Criminal Law (LLB) - Assault

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Is the definition of assault set out in statute or case law? What statute relates to assault in what way?
The definition is set out in case law. S.39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 does not give the definition but states the offence is a statutory offence and sets the maximum sentence.
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What is the actus reus of assault?
The AR of assault is any act causing the victim to apprehend immediate unlawful personal violence.
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How can an assault be committed? Can it be through words alone?
Yes. In R v Ireland and R v Constanza the court held that words alone can amount to an assault contrary to what was held in R v Mead and Belt where the court held that a physical act or gesture was required.
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Can silence amount to assault? Give case example.
Yes it can. In R v Ireland the defendant called the victim every time she got home but didn't speak. The courts held that this amounted to an assault.
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Can words cancel out actions? Give case example.
Yes. In Turberville v Savage despite the fact that the defendant had his hand on his sword, because he said he would not harm him, in this case his words cancelled out his actions. No assault took place.
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Is there any need for physical contact? Give a case example.
No. The victim must only apprehend violence. The emphasis is on what the victim thought was going to happen. For example in R v Logdon the defendant held a replica gun up to the victim. The victim did not know it was a replica and thought her life
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Question continued...
was in danger. The courts held that it was assault. Conversely in R v Lamb, the victim and the defendant were playing around with a gun that they thought was on the safety lock. It wasn't and the defendant shot the victim. Held: No assault occurred
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because the victim didn't apprehend any unlawful violence believing the safety lock to be on.
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There is a requirement that the victim apprehends immediate battery (unlawful personal violence). What approach have the courts taken to this? Give case examples.
The courts have taken a flexible approach. R v Lewis - in this case the defendant uttered threats from another room. R v Ireland;Burstow (silence phone calls) & R v Constanza (letters amounted to clear threats of immediate violence).
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As long as the victim apprehends violence at some point in the future and cannot rule out the possibility of the violence occurring in the near future, then this will amount to immediate violence for the purposes of assault.
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What is the mens rea of assault? Give case example.
The mens rea of assault is intention or recklessness. R v Venna.
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What two cases confirmed the type of recklessness that is required and what it is?
R v Savage;Parmenter. Subjective cunningham recklessness is required.
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What is recklessness?
In this case it would be where the defendant realises the risk that his conduct might cause somebody to apprehend immediate unlawful personal violence but continues with the conduct anyway.
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What case evidences oblique intention? What did it confirm?
R v Woolin. It confirmed that where a defendant doesn't directly intend the outcome, if the defendant's conduct means that it is 'virtually certain' someone will apprehend immediate unlawful personal violence then this will amount to intention.
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Card 2

Front

What is the actus reus of assault?

Back

The AR of assault is any act causing the victim to apprehend immediate unlawful personal violence.

Card 3

Front

How can an assault be committed? Can it be through words alone?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Can silence amount to assault? Give case example.

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Can words cancel out actions? Give case example.

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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