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Criminal Defence and Extradition

Assault Allegations

Our expert criminal defence lawyers are well equipped to achieve successful outcomes when defending allegations of assault ranging from grievous bodily harm (GBH) to common assault.

We use our skills and years of experience to help our clients navigate the criminal justice system and provide first class representation at police stations and in court. 

Our highly skilled criminal defence solicitors ranked as band 1 in Chambers and Partners, provide a bespoke service tailored to our client’s needs. We understand that an allegation of assault can have a devastating impact on an individual, their family, and their career, and provide calm, expert, and professional advice and representation from the police station through to trial and appeal.

Allegations of assault can vary from a threat of violence, domestic abuse, assaults on emergency workers to serious violence such as GBH and murder. For an offence to be committed the violence must be unlawful – if an individual is acting in self-defence, or accidentally, the offence is not committed.

Our team of criminal defence solicitors will:

  • Provide advice and assistance at the police station
  • Prepare and conduct bail applications or instruct expert counsel to do so
  • Examine all prosecution material and seek further disclosure from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and third parties where appropriate, thus ensuring that all relevant material that may undermine the prosecution case or support the defence is disclosed
  • Advise on, and prepare, legal arguments regarding admissibility of evidence
  • Instruct expert experienced counsel for representation in court and at trial
  • Instruct suitable and experienced experts to assist with evidential matters
  • Proactively defend, locating material and witnesses to support the defence case and undermine the prosecution
  • Challenge the prosecution’s narrative and assumptions and expose any weaknesses and irregularities in the prosecution case
  • Prepare a robust defence case

Every case is unique and every individual will have different needs. Our expert criminal lawyers will listen to your requirements and will personally examine the prosecution case to ensure that the best defence is put forward and the most effective strategy is adopted. In some cases, this may include submitting a basis of plea to minimise sentence, applying to the court to dismiss the case before trial, or making written representations to the CPS to discontinue the prosecution on evidential grounds or in the public interest.

Frequently asked questions
If an assault allegation is made against me will I be arrested?

Not necessarily. Our experienced criminal defence lawyers can negotiate with the police that you should be allowed to attend the police station as a volunteer. This means you will be interviewed under caution but will not have to go into custody and will not have fingerprints, DNA, or photographs taken. You are free to leave the police station and will not be subject to pre-charge bail conditions.

What types of assault are there?

Common assault or assault by beating

Common assault is the least serious of assaults. The offence carries a maximum six-month penalty and can only be tried in the magistrates’ court. Common assault is committed by making a threat of immediate unlawful violence – no physical contact is required to amount to an offence. If unlawful contact is made this would be classed as assault by beating.

Assault by beating requires an intention or reckless use of physical force, however slight. Spitting can amount to an assault. An individual may use such force as is reasonable to:

  • Defend themselves
  • Defend another
  • Defend property
  • Prevent crime or
  • Effect a lawful arrest

Actual bodily harm (ABH)

This offence is committed when an individual intentionally or recklessly assaults another causing actual bodily harm. The harm does not have to be permanent but must be more than transient and trifling. The same above defences apply.

Psychological harm that involves more than mere emotions such as fear, distress or panic can amount to ABH but if the harm does not amount to a recognised psychiatric illness it is unlikely the offence of ABH has been committed. Harm does not require a physical injury. The maximum sentence is five years imprisonment.

Grievous bodily harm (GBH)

Grievous bodily harm is defined as ‘really serious’ harm. The differences between unlawful wounding/ inflicting GBH (s20 OAPA) and wounding/causing GBH with intent s18 (OAPA) are defined by what was alleged to be in the mind of the person committing the offence.

S20 requires that the individual either intended or actually foresaw, the act causing some harm or wounding. They do not need to foresee harm to the gravity of s20 (really serious harm or wounding that broke the skin), just some harm. The maximum sentence is five years imprisonment.

S18 requires the individual to intend to cause really serious harm. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment. The above defences apply.

Cases involving the deliberate transmission of sexually transmitted diseases can amount to an s18 offence. Such prosecutions are complex. Expert evidence and representation are required.

S47 and s20 can be charged as racially or religiously aggravated and the sentencing powers are greater (seven years) maximum.

Do special offences apply to police and emergency workers?

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences Act) 2018 supercedes previous legislation relating to allegations of assault on police and security officers. Such assaults should now be prosecuted as offences contrary to section 1 of the 2018 Act and 39(2) Criminal Justice Act 1988.

Emergency workers are defined in s3(1) of the Act and include police and prison officers, rescue workers, and NHS staff. The worker needs to be acting in the exercise of their function at the time of the allegation. This is a new law and aggravating factors may apply if sentenced so expert advice should be sought.

Will I be granted bail if the case goes to court?

If it is a first-time offence, the injuries are not really serious, you have no previous convictions, have community ties and an address, you should have good prospects of bail. However, this may be subject to conditions such as not to contact the complainant or prosecution witnesses, a geographical restriction, a condition of residence and possibly a surety.

If you are sent straight to court from the police station we are able to liaise with family members in order to prepare a comprehensive bail package and make submissions in court to have you released on bail.


It is essential to access expert advice and have a clear strategy from the outset. Decisions made at the police station can determine the outcome of the case. To get in touch with our solicitors please use the contact details below.


+44 (0)20 7305 5638

Meet the team

Tayab Ali
Deputy Managing Partner

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory | Head of International Law

Kate Goold

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Katie Wheatley

Head of Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Catherine Jackson

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Jude Lanchin

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Ella Jefferson

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Hester Cavaciuti

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Ruaa Kamaran

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Irene Karidas
Trainee Solicitor

Criminal Law

Shivani Soni
Trainee Solicitor

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

How can we help you?

We are here to help. If you have any questions for us, please get in touch below.