Common Assault (Battery)

A common assault under section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 is in fact two separate matters: an assault or a battery.

Any act which intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend immediate unlawful personal violence constitutes an assault. An act by which a person intentionally or recklessly applies force to a complainant constitutes battery.

An assault does not have to involve an actual application of force: threatening words may be sufficient.

Typically, the sorts of defence to a charge of assault include:

  • Disputed identification (“it wasn’t me”);
  • Disputed facts (“the complainant is making it up”);
  • Acting lawfully (“I was defending myself / another”);
  • Lack of intent / not acting recklessly.