FAQ

I have been charged with an offence of common assault and intend to plead not guilty. What will happen at court?

If you plead not guilty to a charge of common assault, the case cannot be dealt with at court on the day. There will be an initial brief plea hearing when the not guilty plea will be entered to the charge of common assault. No evidence will be heard. The case will then be fixed for a further hearing date sometime thereafter.

At the second hearing date the court will hear prosecution and defence evidence  together with representations from the defence lawyers and then make a decision if the person is guilty or not guilty of common assault.

If a person is found not guilty of a common assault charge  that that is the end of the case and they are free to go. If a person is found guilty of s common assault charge , if there are no aggravating features and it is not a domestic violence related case, the court will probably finalise the case on the day. If however the common assault charge has aggravating features or is domestic violence related, the court will adjourn for the preparation of a presentence report.

I have been charged with common assault and want to plead guilty. What will happen at court?

How  the charge of common assault will be dealt with at the Magistrates Court depends upon the facts of the case. If it is a minor altercation between adults with no aggravating features or injuries, the court will almost always deal with the case on the day by the imposition of a fine or a conditional discharge.

Alternatively, if the charge of common assault has any of the aggravating features indicated above or it is a common assault domestic violence charge, as the court has a much wider power with regard to sentencing, the case will almost always be adjourned for the preparation of a presentence report. This means having to go back to court on a further occasion. In the meantime the probation service will arrange an appointment for the person charged with common assault to attend their offices in order that an interview can take place. The contents of the interview will form the basis of the presentence report. On the second occasion, the person charged with common assault would ordinarily expect the case to be finalised.

Should you find yourself in this situation, feel free to contact us as expert common assault defence lawyers.

I have been charged with "common assault by beating". I did not beat anybody up.

Where the charge of common assault alleges that any physical contact has been made by the accused with the complainant, the charge must read, "by beating". It is, effectively, old legal terminology to make it clear that the allegation of common assault is based upon physical contact, no matter how slight this may be. It does not necessarily mean that the charge of common assault alleges somebody has been beaten up.

I have been charged with an offence of common assault but I did not actually touch or injure the complainant.

charge of common assault can be brought where the accused is alleged to have caused the victim genuine and immediate fear of personal violence towards them. This can include extreme shouting in the complainants face at very short distance or, for example, deliberately driving a motor vehicle at speed in someones direction to cause them to fear that they would be immediately knocked down. Additional examples are where the allegation of common assault arises from spitting. Once again no contact is made by the accused but this can still amount to a charge of common assault.

What are aggravating features to a charge of common assault?

Aggravating  features are those features present in a charge of common assault which will cause a court to consider either an immediate prison sentence or a suspended prison sentence.

Firstly with regard to the nature of the injury, if the charge of common assault is as a result of injury falling just short of actual bodily harm the court may consider a prison sentence.

Furthermore, if the offence has been planned or involves a group of people attacking a lone individual that is an aggravating feature of common assault. In addition, the use of a weapon, stamping, kicking whilst on the ground or head-butting are aggravating features. If the offence is racially motivated common assault or is a hate crime against an individual due to their sex, race or religious background that is a serious aggravating feature.

Finally, if the common assault is against a vulnerable person such as a child or elderly person or if there are certain aspects of the case which were designed to humiliate the victim of common assault, the court will consider a custodial sentence.

I have been charged with an offence of common assault. If I am found guilty what is the likely sentence.

Common assault covers  a whole range of scenarios and, as a result there is a very wide range of sentencing options available to the court.

In a non-domestic violence common assault type case, if there has been a minor altercation between two adults resulting in no or minor injury, the sentence for common assault would ordinarily be a conditional discharge or a fine.

If the common assault charge is  more serious or is a domestic violence related charge, the court will usually consider the imposition of a community order. This is an order which requires the defendant to complete a number of hours of unpaid work. Very often, again if it is a domestic violence common assault, the court may require the individual to go on certain courses or programs with regard to anger management, communication skills etc. 

If the charge of common assault has one or more aggravating features to it, the court can consider the imposition of an immediate or a suspended prison sentence.

What can I do about my bail conditions?

A In the vast majority of common assault domestic violence charges, if the complaint has been made by a relative or partner of the accused, the police will impose bail conditions to prevent the individual returning to the family home or contacting his family. This, quite naturally, causes a great degree of personal anxiety and upset throughout the family.

If it is the type of common assault case where the complainant has contacted the police and made it clear that she/he no longer supports a prosecution for common assault, we can make an application to the Magistrates Court to have the bail condition removed. The police will usually want to conduct a risk assessment, particularly in relation to domestic violence common assault charges. This will entail visiting the family home to speak with all parties concerned to check that there are no concerns or objections to the person charged with common assault returning to the home address.

As expert common assault defence lawyers we can very regularly successfully apply to the court to rapidly remove bail conditions if required.

Charged with Common Assault

Many allegations of common assault, especially common assault domestic violence are made following an argument in a domestic scenario. The complaint will be made by one party to the relationship, usually when extremely upset or angry. Very often alcohol will have been consumed by the complainant also. This results in complaints of domestic violence being made which are either untrue or exaggerated.

As common assault defence lawyers we regularly see the scenario where sometime thereafter, the complainant wants to drop the charges of common assault. If the common assault charge is a domestic violence  related offence, in our experience which is considerable, the Police and  Crown Prosecution Service will very rarely let the complainant withdraw their statement even if the complainant states clearly that they do not support a prosecution for common assault.

This means that  the person charged with common assault will plead not guilty. It is essential to seek the services of a specialist common assault defence lawyer in order to do everything possible to ensure a not guilty verdict.

What will be the cost?

At Professional Defence Lawyers we understand that the cost of instructing a solicitor is something that can be a major concern. In order to prevent this worry we will tell you at the outset of your case exactly what our fixed fee will be for your case. Any fee agreed will be clearly advised and will include the cost of all aspects of your case including advice, preparation and representation at court. This means complete peace of mind for you when having us deal with your case.

What does ABH mean?

This is an offence under section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act. This provides that a person is guilty of an offence if any assault results in injury causing actual bodily harm.

The definition of assault is quite wide. This usually involves people who have been involved in some form of fighting or altercation. It does not happen to be just kicks or punches at camp for example, but can include any injury caused by a person to another.

Why would a health and safety officer visit me?

A company or individual business may well receive a visit from the health and safety inspector in relation to a number of different situations. Usually the proceedings will begin to buy a visit to the business premises or location in a number of circumstances. There would then be a decision to prosecute provided there is sufficient evidence to support a health and safety prosecution and that it is in the public interest to do so. Read more about our Health and Safety Defence service.

Do you defend professionals from criminal prosecution?

Yes. We at Professional Defence Lawyers are experts at defending professionals for a wide range of criminal accusations and can help protect you and your reputation. Don't risk losing your professional reputation. If you are accused of a crime then without proper representation you could destroy both your career and reputation. Read more about White Collar Crime.

If I instruct Professional Defence Lawyers who will deal with my case?

The preparation and advice will only ever be dealt with by Rob Bimpson or Tim Chapman. Both are solicitors with each having over 20 years experience. If you require representation at court or before a professional or regulatory panel this will either be by Rob or Tim or, if appropriate, by a barrister selected and fully briefed on your behalf. At Professional Defence Lawyers we have established links with some of the most able and committed barristers in the country.

Can I transfer my case from another Solicitor?

As you are paying privately for your representation you are completely free to change solicitors should you feel that you are not happy with your representation.

Will I have to travel to your offices or will you visit me at home?

When representing people all over the country the convenience of our clients is of prime importance to us. We regularly attend upon our clients at there homes or place of work if required at no additional cost. We also set up telephone conferences in the morning before normal working hours or in the evening after work.

What is the Proceeds of Crime Act?

If an individual or company is found guilty of a trading standards offence then the court may consider an application under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The basic principle is that if anybody has benefited financially from any unlawful activity then the court has the power to try to assess the amount of that benefit and make an order that it be repaid.

At professional defence lawyers we have extensive experience of dealing with applications under the Proceeds of Crime Act and are able to deal with any such application by any client facing a trading standards prosecution.

What area do you cover?

As specialist defence lawyers we cover the whole of England and Wales. We do not charge travelling expenses. The fee for dealing with your case will be the same wherever it is in the country.

What classes as an Environmental Law Breach?

The Environmental Protection Act was brought into being to enable local authorities to control air/land/River pollution. The most regular Environmental Law Breach is related to the issue of waste management and any potential breach of waste management licenses. If there is a significant or repeated breach there can be the revocation or suspension of waste management licenses. See our main Environmental Law Breach page for more helpful information.

Can I discuss my case initially without having to instruct you?

The answer is yes. We fully understand that it is essential for you to feel confident in your legal team. Instructing the right lawyer is a vitally important decision. We are very happy to spend time with you discussing your case, listening to your concerns and explaining how we can help. Feel free to call us for an initial no obligation chat free of charge.

I have been accused of GBH, can you help?

Yes of course, as with assault charges there can be a number of defences available in GBH cases. These will nearly always relate to self defence where the injury caused to another person has been caused by the defendant but in the act of defending themselves. As well as whether or not the injuries were actually caused by the defendant, very often the main issue in the case is whether the defendant had used force, which was reasonable. Read more about GBH Defence.

Can you offer advice regarding the Environmental Protection Act?

The Environmental Protection Act was brought into being to enable local authorities to control air/land/River pollution. This provides authorities with a very wide range of powers to investigate and then impose enforcement proceedings in place to ensure that there is no further repeat of any existing or future pollution. For more detailed information and for how we can help please see our main Environmental Protection Act page.

Do I need a solicitor?

If you face a criminal prosecution or regulatory/professional investigation, the consequences of the case could be potentially life changing. Those investigating the case will have been there many times before. You will almost certainly have little or no experience in dealing with this type of situation. 
The manner in which you deal with the case will have a significant bearing upon whether or not the case will proceed further or, if it does, the outcome. At Professional Defence Lawyers we realise that you cannot afford to take chances with your future and assure you that every effort will be made to best protect your interests, career and future.

I am a small Business; can you offer advice regarding Environmental Laws for Businesses?

Any Business small or large may face a prosecution by the Environment Agency for a number of offences. It should be noted that these are prosecuted in the criminal Court and are regarded as criminal offences if a Business is convicted. At Professional Defence Lawyers we have over 20 years experience of helping Businesses facing a wide range of prosecutions for offences of this nature. See our Environmental Laws for Businesses page for more information.

Can you help me with my Health and Safety case?

At Professional Defence Lawyers we have considerable experience in dealing with a wide range of Health and Safety cases/prosecutions. We understand that the potential consequences for an individual or corporate client can be very serious and our assurance is that every effort will be made to either successfully defend or minimise any damage that may be caused to our clients as a result of a health and safety prosecution. See our HSE Defence Solicitors page for more information.

What are the maximum HSE Prosecution Penalties?

THE MAXIMUM PENLTY possible under Health and Safety legislation depends on the specific offence. The maximum penalty, for example, for failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice is a £20,000 fine and/or a six month period of imprisonment. This illustrates how serious any potential or actual Health and Safety prosecution can be to individuals and companies. See our HSE Prosecutions page for more information.

I am being charged with Section 47 Assault, what are the Penalties?

If a person is guilty of assault occasion in actual bodily harm the powers of the court are wide. The courts can impose a period of imprisonment, which in the Crown Court can be up to 5 years. Alternatively the courts will impose a fine, a community order or a suspended prison sentence. For more information see our main Section 47 Assault page.

Are you able to defend me against Section 39 Assault?

Because the offence is serious and the consequences potentially so serious to the defendant, it is vital that high level specialist experienced defence lawyers represent the defendant charged in such circumstances.

At professional defence lawyers you will only be advised by a solicitor with at least 20 years experience regarding Section 39 Assault. At court you will be represented by the by a solicitor or barrister of the appropriate level of experience and knowledge. See our main Section 39 Assault page for more information.

What is Common Assault Defence?

There are certain circumstances where the law permits an individual to cause harm to another person without that amounting to a criminal offence. This will usually include situations where a person has been acting in self-defence. Very often injury can be caused to somebody else by accident. If the court accepts this it may find you not guilty of assault.

We also come across a large number of situations where the assault just did not take place in the first place

In prosecution cases of this nature it is vital that a very proactive approach to defence is taken. See our Common Assault Defence page for more information.

I am being Charged with Common Assault, can you help?

If you have been Charged with Common Assault, Professional Defence Lawyers can help. We are a dedicated Common Assault firm of specialist Lawyers headed by Rob Bimpson and Tim Chapman. Both are Solicitors who have been qualified for over 20 years.

In Common Assault cases it is vital that a very proactive approach to defence is taken and at Professional Defence Lawyers we will act appropriately to make sue your best interests are protected at all times. See the following page for more information if you are being Charged with Common Assault.

I am being prosecuted by the Environment Agency, can you help?

Any individual or company may face a prosecution by the environment agency for a large number of offences. It should be noted that these are prosecuted in the criminal Court and are regarded as criminal offences if a person or business is convicted. At professional defence lawyers we have over 20 years experience of defending people and businesses facing a wide range of prosecutions for offences of this nature. See our Environment Agency Prosecutions page for more information.

Contact Professional Defence Lawyers Today

If you have any questions not answered here, please contact us on 0800 634 7022 and we'll be happy to answer your questions.

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About Professional Defence Lawyers

Rob BimpsonProfessional Defence Lawyers is a dedicated defence firm of specialist Lawyers headed by Rob Bimpson and Tim Chapman. Both are Solicitors who have been qualified for over 20 years.

About Professional Defence Lawyers

 

Case Studies

We represented a manufacturing company who had a large factory with extensive machinery. An employee of the company expressed a breach of safety guidelines which had been put in place…

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"PDL successfully defended us in court and achieved a not guilty verdict when one of our employees was injured. PDL were able to see that the worker didn’t follow the strict H&S procedures we have put in place and their expertise in this area helped us to prove our innocence."

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"Our corporate client faced a Health and Safety Executive prosecution. An in depth investigation was carried out into a large number of allegedly defective heaters which our client had manufactured… "

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"Professional Defence Lawyers were able to massively reduce the extent and level of seriousness of the health and safety prosecution we faced. They were outstanding throughout, and significantly reduced our financial penalty"

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