What is Assault by Beating?

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Created on July 11, 2022

What is Assault by Beating?

Assault by beating is a variation of the offence of common assault, set out in section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

A person commits an assault if they perform an act and either intentionally or recklessly cause another person to suffer, or fear they are about to suffer, immediate violence. This act is committed without the other person’s consent.

Assault by beating refers to a common assault which involves physical force being applied (as opposed to the apprehension of physical force). It is sometimes referred to as battery.

How much force needs to be applied?

The charge of assault by beating or battery can be applicable even when the force used against the another is very slight. For example, a push or a spit may constitute an assault by beating. The victim does not have to suffer any injuries.

However, physical contact in everyday life does not fall under the category of assault by beating. Everyday contact such as brushing up against someone while passing them in the street or bumping into another at a busy nightclub would not be considered assault by beating. These instances are examples of implied consent. Implied consent suggests that an individual’s consent is assumed based on their actions. This means that, although the person has not given verbal or written consent, circumstances exist that would cause a reasonable person to believe the other had consented.

What does the prosecution have to prove?

To establish the offence of assault by beating the prosecution must prove all three of the following elements:

  1. An individual has committed an act which caused another person to suffer immediate unlawful violence. Or the individual has struck, touched, or applied force to another person.
  2. The victim did not consent to the conduct.
  3. The individual’s conduct was intentional or reckless.

What sentence will I receive?

An assault by beating conviction attracts a maximum sentence of 26-weeks custody (imprisonment) to a minimum sentence of a fine (equivalent to 150% of weekly income). The court takes into consideration the level of harm caused to the victim as well as the culpability of the accused.

What factors increase culpability?

Culpability refers to the blameworthiness of the accused. Culpability is assessed with reference to the offender’s role, level of intention or premeditation. The court balance these factors to determine a fair sentence. A list of characteristics that indicate culpability includes injuries sustained by the victim, whether the victim is considered vulnerable, whether the assault was motivated by discrimination, or if the accused threatened the use of a weapon.

How does the court measure harm?

Harm refers to injury, loss, or damage. The level of harm is determined by the presence of physical injuries or the psychological impact on the victim. The court determines where on the sentencing guidelines the accused falls, depending on the factors of the case, and the level of harm caused to the victim.

What are the sentencing guidelines for assault by beating?

The sentencing guidelines are categorised into three levels:

  1. Category 1 ranges from a maximum sentence of 26-weeks custody to a community order and is usually reserved for the most serious cases. These cases usually involve substantial force used to cause significant physical or psychological harm to a victim.
  2. Category 2, which holds a sentence ranging anywhere from a 16-weeks custodial sentence to a community order, incorporates instances of minor injuries and lesser culpability.
  3. Category 3 ranges from a high-level community order to a Band C fine. This category includes cases where little to no physical harm or distress is suffered by the victim and the offender played a less significant role in committing the offence.

Do I have a defence to assault by beating?

General defences can apply to individuals accused of assault by beating, for example:


You are legally entitled to use reasonable and proportionate force to defend yourself and your property. If you are attacked, you may use a necessary amount of force to defend yourself. For example, retaliating to an attack in order to protect yourself or someone else is a defence.

Use of Force in the Prevention of Crime

Using reasonable force is permitted to prevent a crime from occurring. Additionally, this use of reasonable force extends to assisting in a lawful arrest. For example, stopping an intruder from running off by tackling them to the ground.

How can we help?

The law surrounding assault by beating or battery is complicated and can involve a multitude of different legal issues. If you have been charged or are under investigation for a criminal offence, it is essential that you take immediate legal advice. Old Bailey Solicitors can advise you at every stage of your case, contact us for discreet, sensitive and expert advice.



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