Charged with Assault

We understand that facing these types of charges can be distressing and overwhelming. Our principal objective is to provide clear and proactive advice as well as sympathetic support throughout all stages of the criminal proceedings whilst ensuring the best possible outcome for our clients. We maintain strong relationships with several specialist criminal defence barristers who are leaders in their field and will make sure you have the best possible advocate should your case be heard in court.


Under English law, there are three main types of assault: common assault, actual bodily harm (ABH) and grievous bodily harm (GBH). The legal definition of a common assault is any situation in which you’ve put someone in fear of immediate violence. Where injuries such as lesions or bruises have been caused, the more likely charge will be assault resulting in ABH. If serious injuries such as broken bones or disfigurement have occurred, the charge will likely be assault resulting in GBH. Cases of common assault cases are heard by the Magistrates’ Court if they are not considered to be racially aggravated, whilst ABH and GBH can be heard in the Crown Court.

Professional Impact of an Assault Conviction

The consequences of an assault conviction can be wide ranging, as well as a possible custodial sentence it is important to consider the potential professional ramifications involved. Our lawyers possess the requisite experience in defending these cases strategically, mitigating criminal penalties as well as limiting subsequent professional and reputational harm. A criminal record may prevent an individual from entering certain professions as employers are legally permitted to discriminate against an applicant if they have a conviction against their name.

Additionally, professional regulatory bodies may require you to report the offence and this can lead to disciplinary sanctions. The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) invariably makes clear that solicitors must abstain from criminal behavior and a failure to do so can lead to a fine or a rebuke. The SRA for example must simply prove the conviction and the underlying facts by obtaining a copy of the certificate of conviction and a transcript of the sentencing remarks.

Approved persons under the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) must also disclose offences if they are listed offences; assault can be considered a listed offence depending on the circumstances. Whilst not all criminal convictions will lead to disciplinary sanction by a regulator, it is key that solicitors comply with their self-reporting obligations and instruct legal representation at the outset in order to effectively navigate the subsequent disciplinary proceedings.

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Defending an Assault Charge

The main defences to assault are:

  • Self-defence: You are justified in using reasonable force i.e., as much as is ‘reasonably necessary’ in the circumstances, provided you did not intend to cause death or grievous bodily harm;
  • Defence of another: Intervening in order to halt or prevent an assault on someone else;

  • Prevention of crime; and

  • Accident: If the assault was an accident, you should not be found guilty of a criminal offence as you would lack the mental intent which the law requires for guilt. However, in order to raise the defence of accident after you have been charged with assault, you will need to prove that the accident or event was unforeseeable.

The Next Step

In carrying out the best possible defence strategy our lawyers will provide expert advice for police interviews, submit robust written representations and engage with the CPS in respect of charging decisions. If charges are unavoidable, we will seek to lessen charges if possible. We instruct criminal barristers who are leaders in their field should your case proceed to court and instruct appropriate expert witnesses if necessary. For urgent specialist advice, immediate representation or to speak to us confidentially about an assault charge or any other criminal matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch for a free initial consultation on your legal position and the available options on 0203 666 5155.

If you would like to learn more about how Sperrin Law can assist you please get in touch using either the contact details below or the form provided.