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Descriptive Account of the Mens Rea and Actus Reus Elements of Assault

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Please give me the definition of technical/physical assault as a common law and statutory non-fatal offence against the person.

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Solution Summary

The solution is comprised of 995 words, first Actus reus in the 'apprehend' and 'immediate' then Mens rea.

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Definition: A 'technical assault' is committed when the accused intentionally or recklessly causes the victim to apprehend immediate and unlawful personal violence (Fagan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1969] 1 QB 439).

As with all offences, in order to define Assault we need to break the above definition into the two elements of Actus reus and Mens rea.

A. Actus reus

1. 'apprehend':

- No force is needed.
- The central element of this offence is the victim's sensation that she is about to be attacked. In Fagan (1969), the court talked of an act, which causes a person to apprehend immediate unlawful and physical violence. It is not necessary to apprehend a severe attack. Therefore, the apprehension of any unwanted touching is sufficient.
- There is no need to prove fear-the victim might be confident of her ability to fight back successfully.
- Has to be a threat, but that need not be verbal. Any threatening conduct will suffice. Shaking fists, producing knives, pointing guns call be assaults. However, what if the gun is an imitation or the knife is plastic? The defendant's intention to put the threat into effect is not important. The critical issue is whether the victim believes that violence is about to follow (Logdon [1976] CLR 121).
- But what about words without actions? In Wilson [1955], Goddard thought that the mere phrase "Get out the knives" would in itself constitute an assault. Also, an action for civil assault in Ansell ...

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