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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71041
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi I recently wad charged with common assault. Basically what

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Hi I recently wad charged with common assault. Basically what happened is this. I went out with my friends for a meal, after the meal we went to a bar. Upon exiting the bar a man who was clearly off his head approached us and started poking my friends stomach (who I shall call Mike) and made some racist comments. My other friend (who I shall call Peter) told the guy to get lost and pushed him away. I called the guys friend over to come and get him as I could sense he was about to cause trouble. At that point the guy headbutted Peter in the face and a fight between the guys friend and Peter and Mike broke out. I was just about to go into the fight and try and split it up when I felt someone push me from the front (chest height). At this point I was fearing for my safety so I pushed the person down onto the floor and punched them three times in the head. All of a sudden I heard a voice telling me to stop which I obeyed. It was the bar manager of the bar. I then looked over to the front door entrance and saw a female, with very short hair wearing a hoodie. I then realised I made a error of judgment. It turns out she was a part of the security team at the bar and had just walked into to start her shift when she saw the fight and tried to intervene. I genuinely thought she was one of the guys who was trying to attack us. I never touched any alcohol (I have been teetotal for many years) and was just out to have a meal with my friends. I just wanted to protect myself and my friends from what i percieved as a genuine dangerous situation. I was arrested and then charged with ABH then it was increased to GBH when they suspected a fractured jaw. During the police interview it was dropped to common assault as it was revealed that the victim just had a bruised jaw from when I pulled her down to the ground. In the statements the security woman that I had said I stamped on her head, and she lost consciousness. This is not true I only punched 3 times. The bar manager who witnessed it said he saw me hit but couldn't make out if I was punching or kicking. The cttv shows me punching three times and thats it. It also shows me signalling for the guys friends to come over and get him in an effort from trying to prevent the trouble from erupting. After the fight the police officer on duty took a statement from me saying it was a case of mistaken identity as I thought the victim was trying to attack me and my friends. I tried my hardest to apologise to the victim and bar staff, I just hope she got the message. I am now due in court for common assualt of the battery of the female member of bar staff. I want to plead not guilty and use the defence of "The defence of mistake". However I am not sure this is the best option and whether it will stand up in the magistrates court. Can you please advise. My solicitor said he'd plead not guilty if he was me.....but obviously they want money. This is the first time I've ever been in trouble or arrested so I am very nervous.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I would like a recommendation on the best way to proceed i.e. guilty or not guilty. I have the funds to plead not guilty, but I am unsure if my defence will stand up in court. The defence I want to use is - the mistake in relation to public/private defence :

And this is an example the case summary:




Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It is probably worth mentioning that my error of judgment was also caused by the fact that st the same time the victim tried to intervene I heard glass flying through the air. I believed that bottles were being used to attack us. However there is no evidence of this. It was this occurrence, coupled with the fact that I could see my friends being attacked that caused the error of judgement.

So you want to know whether to plead guilty or not?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes. If you could also try and quantify the chances of success, cost of solicitors, expected punishments for guilty or not guilty. I want to know whether its worth fighting my innocence for.

Well, I'm not the best person to advice upon this. I haven't had vision of the evidence against you. However, if you are saying that you struck a person who was already on the floor repeatedly then that is not self defence I'm afraid.

You could always offer a plea on the basis that you were acting in self defence probably up until the push and then there after you lost your temper and delivered punishment to him by punching him repeatedly.

Self defence is a very narrow defence. People misunderstand it widely. Self defence allows you to take reasonable and necessary steps to stop a person committing a further offence. Punching a person already down is not reasonable or necessary. Of course, jurors do sometimes let people off for excessive self defence really because they use their moral compass rather than the law but common assault can only be tried by magistrates.

There isn't a defence of mistake.

If you plead on a basis of excessive self defence then you may escape with a fine although more likely a low level community order.

If you are convicted on full facts after a trial then its probably still a community order but it would be a higher one.

Costs will be £85 if you plead or £300-£500 if you are convicted after trial.

I'm very sorry but thats your position.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So just to clarify, based on the information I have provided you with you recommend I plead guilty on the basis on excessive self defence? ??


In my eyes I used only enough force to ensure that the person would not get back up and attack me


Excuse my ignorance I have very little idea of how the magistrates courts work.

As I have said, I haven't had vision of this case. If there is concern that the witness might not come then you should probably be contesting it.

However, proceeding on the basis that he does come and he gives evidence of three blows whilst on the floor then that is not self defence.

I do realise that you say you only used enough force but its an objective test and its just plain excessive. It was always an option for you to walk away when he was on the floor and you did not so its not necessary or reasonable.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry just to clairfy, do you mean if the witness(es) fail to turn up on the FIRST magistrates court day it may be worth contesting it and that will go to trial?

No, witnesses are never required on the first occasion but if they might refuse to give evidence at all then there is no point in pleading. People do that sometimes. They lose interest. They move away. Sometimes they cannot give evidence for lots of reasons.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

But I wouldn't know if that was a possibility until I pleaded "Not guilty"? What if the witnesses were to turn up at the trial ?

No, if you don't know him then you wouldn't.

Its a risk that you have to weigh up.
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