Information about going to court for an assault charge.

An assault is an intentional or reckess action that causes another person to fear or apprehend immediate violence. You don’t have to make physical contact to commit an assault, even raising your fist towards another person, or spitting at them can be an assault. There are different types of assault charges depending on whether an assault caused any injuries, and if so, how serious those injuries are. Some common types of assault charges are:

  • common assault
  • assault occasioning actual bodily harm
  • assault occasioning grievous bodily harm
  • wounding.

At court you will need to tell the court if you are pleading guilty or not guilty. You might have other options too, like negotiating with the police, or making a Section 14 application (a mental health application).

If you plead ‘not guilty’, the police will need to provide you with all the evidence they have against you before the hearing date.

If there is video evidence, such as CCTV footage or a video statement, you might be able to view this at the police station before the court date. You will need to speak to police to arrange this.

For more information on going to court for an assault charge, see Going to court.

If you have been charged with assault, you should get legal advice.

If you go to court and plead not guilty to a charge of common assault, police must prove:

  • you acted in a way that caused another person to think you were about to use immediate and unlawful violence against them. Your actions must be intentional or reckless (not just accidental)
  • the other person didn’t consent (agree) to your actions
  • you realised that the other person might fear immediate and unlawful violence and you went ahead and did those actions anyway, and
  • that you have no lawful excuse for your actions.

Unless the police can prove all these things, the court must find you not guilty.

For other types of assault offence, the police may have to prove other things too, for example, an injury.

If you were acting in self-defence, you are not guilty of assault. Self-defence includes defending yourself, another person or your property. 

Your behaviour must be reasonable and proportionate.  

If you have been charged with assault and want to know what the law says about self-defence in your case, you should get legal advice.