Common Assault (Common Law)

common assault (common law)


Common Assault (Common Law) is used when a person makes unlawful contact with another person, or threatens to do so.

Examples of Common Assault (Common Law)
  • You push your neighbour when he complains about a branch overhanging the fence.
  • You angrily tell another motorist you will punch them for failing to give way to you.
  • You threateningly grab the collar of someone's shirt when they are rude to you in bar.
What are some of the possible defences to a Common Assault (Common Law) charge?
  • Someone was acting in self-defence.
  • Someone else did the assault.

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • Were there circumstances in which you need to defend yourself?
  • Was someone else involved who did the offending?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.

Common Assault (Common Law) can be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

"Why are they charging with common law assault?"
What is the legal definition of Common Assault (Common Law)?

The legal definition of Common Assault (Common Law) is making unlawful contact with another person, or threatening to do so.


This is a common law offence which means there is no specific legislation for the offence.

sentencing county court

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

This is an unusual charge for the Police to proceed with. You would expect it in a more serious case and therefore gaol might be an outcome. However if it was in minor circumstances then it could be a fine as a penalty.

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