What is Assault?

If you’ve been charged with assault, a conviction can lead to both jail time and a criminal record.

An assault conviction on your record can impact your employment prospects, your ability to travel and more.

Simple Assault

Simple assault, also referred to as “common assault,” can arise from physical contact such as pushing or shoving and it is not necessary that a person was hurt. Even the threat or attempt of violence without physical contact can be considered as assault in some circumstances.

For first-time offenders, simple assault will often be treated as a summary conviction and the crown may not request jail time. However, if the assault is more serious, simple assault can be considered an indictable offence that requires a more involved court process with more serious sentences of up to 5 years in prison.

Assault causing bodily harm

If the assault ended in injury such as a black eye or bloody nose, it can result in the more serious charge of assault causing bodily harm. A verbal or visual threat does not qualify until either direct or indirect contact has been made.

Being charged with this form of assault can lead to up to 10 years in jail and severe penalties. Even in cases where the prosecutor is not asking for a jail sentence, a conviction can result in a criminal record, probation, non-communication order, as well a DNA order.

Aggravated assault

If an assault results in serious injuries, such as a broken arm or leg, or endangers the complainant’s life, the charge can be upgraded to the much more serious charge of aggravated assault. Section 268 of the Criminal Code says an aggravated assault happens when one person “wounds, mains, disfigures or endangers the life” of someone else through an assault. 

Depending on the circumstances, a conviction can result in fourteen (14) years in prison. Aggravated sexual assault could be a life term.

Assault with a weapon

This offence is set out in section 267(a) of the Criminal Code and can result from an assault involving any type of weapon, such as a knife or gun, but can also arise from using common objects such as a bottle. The law describes someone who has committed assault with a weapon as, “Everyone who, in committing an assault, carries, uses or threatens to use a weapon or an imitation thereof, or causes bodily harm to the complainant.” 

Assault with a weapon cases can arise in cases where there is no injury whatsoever to the victim.

Domestic assault

This is a charge involving a conflict between spouses or two other parties in some sort of domestic relationship. 

There is no special offence in the Criminal Code for domestic assaults and they are all prosecuted as one of the types of assault listed above. However, the fact that there was a relationship between the parties at the time of the assault will be used as an aggravating factor at sentencing.

Assaulting a Peace Officer

Assaulting a peace officer, commonly referred to as assaulting a police officer, can result in convictions with more serious sentences. Assaulting a police officer has the same maximum penalties as simple assault, assault with a weapon, and aggravated assault, but as assaulting an officer is considered a serious offence, you are often more at risk for the maximum sentence. 

The legal definition is the same as for assault, but the victim of the assault must have been a peace officer engaged in the execution of their duty.

Sexual assault

The Supreme Court of Canada defines sexual assault as an assault committed by a male or female in circumstances of a sexual nature, such that the sexual integrity of the victim is violated. Read our blog regarding sexual assault charges here.

Penalties for Convictions Related to Assault

In general, the consequences of causing someone bodily harm will inevitably be dependent on the extent of physical & emotional injury done to the victim. The resulting sentence can include a combination of fines, restitution, community service, and jail time. A record for an assault related charge may cause immigration problems with the United States of America as you may be refused entry.

Assault Defence Lawyer

If you have been charged with a form of assault, it is important to come up with a strategic defence to protect your rights and freedoms. It is important to understand that provocation is not a defence to the charge of assault. Provocation can be a mitigating factor on sentence but not justification for an assault.

Rishma Gupta has successfully defended against assault charges by raising issues such as self-defence and by obtaining discharges so that our clients do not end up with criminal records. She has represented individuals charged with various criminal offences in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and throughout Ontario. Contact Rishma today to discuss your case in confidence.