Unit 3 - non-fatals revision

  • COMMON ASSAULT: Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes this a summary offence.
  • Actus Reus
  • Any act which caused the victim to apprehend the immediate infliction of violence  (i.e.Logdon – The defendant, as a joke, pointed a gun at the victim who was terrified until she was told that it was in fact a replica. The court held that the victim had apprehended immediate physical violence, and the defendant had been at least reckless as to whether this would occur/Lamb: no assault and therefore no liability for unlawful act manslaughter).The act must cause a belief that there will be immediate harm but this has been interpreted liberally.  See:
  • Smith V Superintendant of Woking Police Station: (where the defendant was outside);
  • Constanza: (a case of stalking); and
  • Ireland: (where the defendant made silent phone calls to three women).
  • An assault can now be committed by words.  This was made clear in Ireland.
  • However, actions can be cancelled by words: Tuberville V Savage.
  • Mens Rea
  • Intentionally or recklessly caused the victim to apprehend the immediate infliction of harm (stated in Venna)


  • Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes this a summary offence.
  • Actus Reus
  • The actus reus of battery is unlawfully applying physical force to another person.  For example: Collins v Wilcock, where a policewoman grabbed a prostitute’s arm in order to stop her walking away, but without having arrested her.
  • Battery can be committed directly or indirectly as in: Haystead, where the defendant punched a woman who dropped her child.
  • Some forms of physical contact are not actionable, for example, touching someone to get their attention, jostling in a busy shop and back-slapping provided it is reasonable.  There are also the defences of making a lawful arrest and acting in self-defence.
  • Mens Rea
  • The mens rea is fulfilled if the defendant intentionally or recklessly applied force to the victim.  This was stated in Venna.


  • The offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm is contained in s47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, under which a defendant can be imprisoned for up to five years.
  • Actus Reus
  • Assault means a common law assault or a common law battery.
  • Occasioning means causing.  Harm can be caused directly or indirectly.  For example:
  • Roberts – The escape case where the defendant caused the victim to jump out of the car.
  • Constanza – Where the defendant stalked the victim.
  • Ireland – By silent phone calls.
  • DPP v K – Placing sulphuric acid in a hot air drier in school toilets.
  • Harm can also be caused by omission, as in DPP v Santa-Bermudez, where a policewoman searched the defendant after having told him to empty his pockets and having asked if he had any needles or sharps.  The defendant said no but the policewoman pricked her finger on a hypodermic needle.
  • Actual bodily harm means not only physical harm


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