What Is Assault?

Assault is the deliberate attack of another person.

In other words, assault cannot be committed unless the accused intended to attack the victim. Because the emphasis is on intention, it is still assault when a defendant hurts the wrong person by mistake or tries and fails to injure someone. An assault can even be committed when someone uses threatening gestures that cause alarm: e.g., the brandishing of an imitation firearm at a victim.

Been Charged With Assault? We Can Help

If successful, a complete defence is one that settles the case entirely in favour of the defendant. There are a number of complete defences available to people accused of assault: most commonly, if the assault was the result of self-defence or of the accused acting in defence of others, but also as a result of an accident or of insanity at the time of attack (evidence from Psychiatrists will be required to establish that the accused was insane at the time of the offence).

How the Law Defines Self Defence

The law is very clear about the conditions that apply: the danger of attack must be immediate or imminent; the response to the attack has to be proportionate; there needs to be no means of escape or other ways of avoiding or ending the attack; and once the perpetrator has been disarmed the attack must stop. Reasonable force can be used to ward off what one reasonably perceives as an imminent attack upon themselves or indeed another. The balance of proportion is not to be weighed on too fine a scale as allowance has to be made by the courts for the heat or the excitement of the moment.

Additionally, there are a number of weaker defences that could lead to a substantially reduced sentence: namely diminished responsibility and provocation.

Sentences can range from a warning to life imprisonment, depending on how serious the assault is and the defendant’s criminal record. If you have been accused of assault, our expert criminal lawyers are available 24/7 to discuss your case via phone or email.

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