Common assault was an offence under the common law of England, and has been held now to be a statutory offence in England and Wales. It is committed by a person who causes another person to apprehend the immediate use of unlawful violence by the defendant. It was thought to include battery but it does not. In England and Wales, the penalty and mode of trial for this offence is now provided section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, and it has been held that the offence should be alleged as contrary to the statute because of this. It was also held that common assault and battery are two distinct offences, so that a charge that the accused "assaulted and battered" another person would be bad for duplicity (the rule against charging more than one offence in a single count).
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