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Non Fatal Offences Against The Person Notes

GDL Law Notes > GDL Criminal Law Notes

This is an extract of our Non Fatal Offences Against The Person document, which we sell as part of our GDL Criminal Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students.

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Criminal: Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Assault

definition: 'any act which intentionally, or recklessly, causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful personal violence' - Fagan v MPC [1969] per [James J]. R v Ireland/Burstow [1998]: confirmed by HoL. DEBATE: assault + battery: common law or statutory offence?
common law: definitions. statute: procedure + punishment - s39 Criminal Justice Act 1988. DPP v Little: assault statutory offence under s39 CJA 1988. AKA: "common assault", "technical assault", "assault properly so called".

Actus Reus: 'any act which causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful personal violence'.

- Any act: words + silence sufficient. old position: words not assault - R v Mead & Belt [1823]. words: R v Wilson [1955]: [Ld Goddard] obiter: words 'get the knives out' sufficient. words/silence: R v Ireland/Burstow: silent phone calls - [Ld Steyn]: 'a thing said is a thing done'. words can negate assault: Tuberville v Savage [1669]: violence threatened 'if it were not assize-time'.

- Apprehension of personal violence. apprehension: OED - 'understand, perceive'; no actual contact needed.

victim must actually apprehend violence: R v Lamb [1976]: no assault when d. + v. believed brandished gun would not fire (also no MR). if apprehension, irrelevant that d. in fact unable to carry out threat: Logdon v DPP [1976]: threat of holding v. hostage with gun assault, even though gun replica. thin skull rule: irrelevant if victim unusually sensitive in perceiving threats (but may negate MR).

- Immediate, unlawful personal violence. personal violence: physical violence only - R v Ireland/Burstow. not psychological violence: may be covered by other statutes - e.g. Protection from Harassment Act 1997. immediate: v. must apprehend violence in immediate future - but now liberal interpretation: sufficient for v. immediately to apprehend violence?
Tuberville v Savage: 'if it were not assize-time' ? no assault: threat not immediate. Smith v Chief Supt Woking Police Station [1983]: d. immediately adjacent but on other side of window ? still assault: terrified victims unable to consider rationally. R v Constanza [1997]: reading threatening letter from stalker (living nearby) ? sufficient for assault to be apprehended 'at some point not excluding the immediate future'. R v Ireland/Burstow: [Ld Steyn]: v. may fear 'possibility of immediate personal violence'. unlawful: no defence applies - self-defence, necessity, consent.

Mens Rea: 'intentionally or recklessly'. R v Venna [1976]: intention or recklessness as to causing v. to apprehend immediate unlawful violence. facts: d. lashed out while being held down by police, injured officer ? ? assault occasioning ABH: sufficient that reckless. R v Savage/Parmenter [1992]: HoL: Cunningham recklessness needed: subjective - accused has foreseen particular kind of harm might be done + has gone on to take the risk.

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