Section 2 Assault Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997
A Section 2 assault is a common charge prosecuted in the District Courts in Letterkenny, Donegal Town and Buncrana. It is an offence under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997 and replaced the previous common law offence of assault. It is distinct from the more serious charge of assault causing harm which is an offence of assault but with an added proof of harm having to be proved by the prosecution.
Section 2 NFOAPA 1997 under the Act
The offence of assault under the Non Fatal Offences Against Person Act 1997 is defined as follows:
2.— (1) A person shall be guilty of the offence of assault who, without lawful excuse, intentionally or recklessly—
( a) directly or indirectly applies force to or causes an impact on the body of another, or
( b) causes another to believe on reasonable grounds that he or she is likely immediately to be subjected to any such force or impact,
without the consent of the other.
(2) In subsection ( 1) ( a), “ force” includes—
( a) application of heat, light, electric current, noise or any other form of energy, and
( b) application of matter in solid liquid or gaseous form.
(3) No such offence is committed if the force or impact, not being intended or likely to cause injury, is in the circumstances such as is generally acceptable in the ordinary conduct of daily life and the defendant does not know or believe that it is in fact unacceptable to the other person.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,500 (€2,500) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
The definition covers most interactions of an illegal nature. There is a specific exception under (3) where the alleged act occurs in the ordinary conduct of daily life, for example, bumping into a stranger walking down a busy street would not constitute an assault if it was simply accidental. However, bee-lining towards someone and should charging them would clearly not be ordinary conduct.
One of the unique features of a section 2 assault is that causing another person to believe they will be assaulted. Clearly acts of pushing or spitting can constitute a section 2 assault. Some other types of section 2 assault include making a noise over the telephone and the touching or slashing the coat of someone. Similarly, the threat of punching someone without actually coming into contact would allow for an allegation of assault due to the apprehension of being hit.
Defences and Self Defence
If charged, there are a variety of defences available including challenging whether there was any contact or the very often used defence of self-defence. Self defence is found under Section 18 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 and allows for the reasonable use of force based on the view of the defendant.
Six Months Time Limit for Section 2 Assault and the District Court
As Section 2 assaults are summary charges only they can only be prosecuted in the District Court. The time limit for the institution of these proceedings are six months from the date of the alleged offence. Often times we are contacted by clients who say they’re aware of an allegation but it’s now over six months and they believe the case is finished. Unfortunately, the six months time limit for district court proceedings relates to the six months from the date of the offence to when the summons is applied for in the court office. There is usually a few months time drag between the date of applying and the serving of the summons.
Having the Right Solicitor for Your Assault Case
If you or a family member have a criminal case involving a charge for assault or assault causing harm, please let us know if we can help. You can contact us at our telephone number of 00353749725105 or you can email your summons or charge sheet to our specifically dedicated criminal defence email at firstname.lastname@example.org.