An accusation of assault is both serious and unpleasant for the accused.  Sometimes it will come down to one person’s word against another, with no independent or corroborative evidence, with the additional issue that the authorities will tend to investigate the assault from the perspective of the person who makes the initial complaint.  It is therefore all too easy for good and innocent people to become unintentionally embroiled in a bar fight or street brawl that is not of their making, and then find themselves in court.

Assault charges range from the less serious offences of common assault / battery, to the most serious section 18 GBH “(grievous bodily harm”). Whatever the nature of the charge, a conviction for any assault could lead to serious consequences.  Aside from the prospect of a criminal record, it can also include the loss of employment, loss of a whole career, loss of immigration opportunities/status and even the loss of a relationship.  The importance of seeking legal advice cannot be overestimated.

Section 18 (Offences Against the Person Act 1861) is just one step away from murder and manslaughter, and for that reason can only be tried in the Crown Court.  In the most serious cases, it can attract discretionary life imprisonment as a sentence and in less serious cases, sentences of many years imprisonment are commonly passed.  Put simply, to commit this offence, a defendant will have to have caused really serious harm, and have intended to do so.

Section 20 (OAPA 1861) is the lesser form of GBH. In this case, the prosecution have to prove is that really serious harm was caused by the accused but not that he/she intended to do so. Injuries that usually warrant a charge like this might commonly include broken bones, or a wound requiring stitches, although even a psychiatric injury could be sufficient.

Section 47 ABH (“actual bodily harm”) is a lesser form of assault than GBH and is often charged where the authorities cannot prove the ‘really serious harm’ for a GBH. Injuries commonly include for example, minor wounds and broken teeth and cases can be heard in the Magistrates or Crown Court.

Section 39 common assault or battery (use of physical force) is the lowest form of violence to the person.  However, it still carries the possibility of a prison sentence. This offence is often charged where there is no serious injury but there are bruises, grazes or lesser injuries. It is commonly seen in domestic incidents – but so called “domestics” are far from trivial.  Bail conditions frequently mean that an accused cannot go home, or may be refused contact with their partner or children. The risks on conviction can also include restraining orders where a partner may not be permitted to see their spouse for many years.

At Reeds we are always willing to go that extra mile in advising you and representing you in any assault matter, because we know that the consequences can be so significant if you are convicted.  This often means tracing witnesses, tracking down CCTV, and/or visiting the scene.  Our network of leading experts can analyse footage – perhaps slow it down or enlarge/enhance a fight scene. We will strive our hardest to get you bail if you have been remanded into custody, and if you are convicted or plead guilty and find yourself facing an application for a Restraining Order, we can help you to fight against it.

We know how much being charged with one of these offences matters to you and you can be assured that we will do all that we can to get the best result for you.

If you have been asked to attend a voluntary interview about an assault allegation, or are currently subject to Police bail, you may wish to speak directly to one of the Police Station representatives.  We believe that our structure at Reeds enables us to provide an unparalleled, and seamless service to our clients by combining the best practices and features of the independent bar with the support structure of an established law firm.  Our advocates are frequently consulted on serious assault matters while our clients are still in the investigation stage, so you can be sure that your case is being expertly directed from the very beginning, should you wish to be redirected to speak to them.  Should that be the case, you can click here to contact Reeds Solicitors.

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