How to Successfully Defend Assault ChargesIf you are facing assault charges, it is essential to have a skilled defense lawyer who can provide effective representation. As assault charges can vary in severity and carry different legal implications, understanding these distinctions is crucial for building a strong defense strategy. That's where our team of criminal defence lawyers, come in. Our proven track record and personalized defence strategies set us apart. We are skilled in handling a variety of assault charges including assault, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and domestic assault. Keep reading to learn more about these charges and the successful defence tactics we employ.
What Is Assault?
Section 265 of the Criminal Code defines assault as the intentional application of force upon another person, directly or indirectly, without the other person’s consent. Classified as a criminal act, it is considered one of the more severe violations a person can commit, and it can have serious consequences.
Depending on the severity of the assault and whether it is prosecuted as an indictable offense or a summary conviction offense the punishment can include imprisonment, payment of restitution, or community service.
It is important to remember that the threat of assault is sufficient for a charge of assault to be filed.
Types of Assault Charges in Canada
Pyzer Criminal Lawyers are experts in defending assault charges. We have successfully defended many such cases by seeking discharges and raising issues such as self-defence to prevent our clients from ending up with criminal records. Some of the many types of assault charges we defend include:
- Simple assault
- Threats of assault
- Aggravated assault
- Assault causing bodily harm
- Assault with a weapon
- Domestic assault
- Sexual assault
If you find yourself on the receiving end of an assault charge, it is essential that you contact an experienced and specialized assault defence lawyer immediately. We are available for a free advice consultation 24 hours a day and ready to represent you as a client. Our expertise can make a substantial difference to the outcome of your charge.
Penalties for Assault
Even though our primary aim is to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced, it is important to understand the seriousness of assault charges in Canada and the penalties that come with each charge. These penalties vary depending on the type of assault and other factors and can include imprisonment, fines, and a criminal record. Here is an overview of the minimum and maximum penalties for different types of assault:
- Assault: The penalties for assault vary depending on the severity of the offense and whether it is prosecuted as a summary conviction or an indictable offense. The penalty for a summary conviction is up to 2 years less a day in prison, while the penalty for an indictable offense is up to 5 years in prison if the Crown elects by indictment.
- Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm: If the Crown proceeds by way of an indictable offense for assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm, the maximum penalty is 10 years in jail.
- Aggravated assault: Aggravated assault is a more serious form of assault that involves wounding, maiming, disfiguring, or endangering the life of the victim. Aggravated assault is always treated as an indictable offense. The maximum penalty for aggravated assault is 14 years in prison.
- Sexual assault: For both indictable and summary convictions, the maximum penalty is 18 months if the complainant is over 16 years old and a maximum of 2 years less a day if the complainant is under 16 years old.
Usually, the severity of an assault penalty correlates with the harm inflicted, ranging from probation and fines for less serious allegations to potentially no criminal record. However, a guilty verdict for assault or aggravated assault can have a far-reaching impact on your employment opportunities, your ability to travel internationally, any citizenship processes, and might even lead to deportation for non-citizens in severe cases.
Get your defence started. Speak to an experienced assault lawyer.
Common Defence Strategies for Assault Charges in CanadaWe cannot possibly list all the defences that specialized assault defence lawyers could potentially help you with. However, we can provide a brief overview of some key ones that we have substantial experience and success in handling. These are summarized below.
There are numerous possible defences relating to self-defence, defence of others and defence of property in the Criminal Code and case law that should be brought forward by experienced assault lawyers. If you were acting in self-defence, you may be able to argue that you were justified in using force to protect yourself or someone else from harm. To use this defence, you must show that you believed you or someone else was in immediate danger and that the force you used was reasonable in the circumstances (section 34 Criminal Code). Section 35 applies many of the same concepts to the defence of property of yourself or others.
Lack of Intent
Intention to assault is required for a conviction. If you did not intend to commit an assault, you may be able to argue that you did not have the necessary mental state to be guilty of the offense. For example, if you accidentally pushed someone during a heated argument, you may be able to argue that you did not intend to cause harm.
Consent For The Use of Force
Although a limited defence, if an alleged victim consented to the assault, you may be able to argue that you did not commit a criminal offense Such defences are covered in the Criminal Code (sections 265(3)and (4), and for Sexual Assault in sections 273.1 and 273.2) and in related case law.
Mistaken Belief in Consent
This defence rests on the accused’s subjective perception and belief that the complainant had given consent to the use of force. For the defence of mistaken belief in consent to apply, the accused must have a genuine subjective belief that the other person consented to the force. This belief must also be objectively reasonable under the circumstances, meaning a reasonable person in the same situation would hold the same belief. Lastly, the accused cannot exhibit willful blindness by deliberately ignoring signs of non-consent. If they were aware of such signs but chose to disregard them, this defence may not be valid.
The defence of reasonable doubt is a fundamental principle in Canadian criminal law that guarantees the right of any person charged with an offense to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt can stem from the evidence or lack thereof, and it is the Crown prosecutor's responsibility to prove all aspects of the offense beyond this doubt, without requiring the accused to present any evidence or prove their innocence.
Get Help From An Experienced Assault Lawyer
The legal realm of criminal law can be complicated. The best thing you can do if you are charged with assault is hire an experienced assault lawyer. Pyzer Criminal Lawyers are dedicated assault lawyers. We are here to obtain the best possible outcome for all of our clients. We understand the seriousness of criminal charges, and how a criminal record will affect all aspects of your life. We will do everything we can to find the best legal defence and make the process less stressful for you. We have decades of experience defending assault charges, and we know all of the ins and outs of the legal system.
Assault Case Study
R v Q.A.
The young offender accused, Q.A., was charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm. The allegations were that during the lunch hour, while at school, Q.A., got into a confrontation with one of his classmates. The alleged victim reported that the accused approached him, punched him in the face and then pushed him down a flight of stairs. The alleged victim had to be taken to the hospital where he received multiple stitches to his head.
Mr. Pyzer represented Q.A. and was successful in having the charge against the accused withdrawn upon his completion of court-sanctioned extra-judicial measures, which included a letter of apology and mediation with the complainant. Q.A. does not have a criminal record in relation to this incident and there was no finding of guilt made by the court.
Assault Charges We Defend Against
Navigating the various assault charges, you will find that they come in a number of forms and degrees. They span from simple assault, frequently classified as a misdemeanor, to more serious charges such as aggravated assault. Your intent, the degree of harm you inflicted, and whether you used a weapon can all alter the nature of the charge and its associated consequences. In the section below, we delve into the specifics of these charges.
Simple or common assault is found in section 265(1) of the Criminal Code and is defined as the intentional application of force, either directly or indirectly, against a person without their consent. Simple assault is considered less serious than aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm, or assault with a weapon.
Threats To Assault
Threatening assault, even if force is not applied, is an offense, whether it is only oral (“uttering”, section 264.1 Criminal Code) or threatening acts or gestures (section 265(1)(b) Criminal Code). Uttering threats involves knowingly uttering, conveying, or causing any person to receive a threat and is known as a “specific intent” offense.
Assault Causing Bodily Harm or Assault with a Weapon
Assault causing bodily harm or assault with a weapon is contained in section 267 of the Criminal Code and occurs when a person commits simple assault with a weapon or causes bodily harm to a victim. Assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon have more severe penalties than simple assault because they are considered more serious. Anything that can injure another person can be considered a weapon if the accused uses it in a way to cause death or injury. Both offenses are hybrid offenses, which means that the Crown can choose to proceed by way of summary conviction or indictment.
Aggravated assault is found in section 268(1) of the Criminal Code and is one of the most serious assault charges. Aggravated assault is an augmented form of assault and occurs when an accused wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of another person.
Domestic assault is not a specific type of assault, as the different types of assault in the Criminal Code apply. In domestic assault cases, the accused will be charged with either simple assault or one of the more serious forms of assault, provided the accused had an intimate or familial relationship with the victim. Alternatively, the Crown may agree to withdraw the assault charges in lieu of the defendant agreeing to enter into a peace bond.
Domestic violence crimes are treated and punished by law more severely due to the fact that physical or emotional abuse or injuries are inflicted upon those who are in an intimate or familial relationship. A criminal assault lawyer who has experience defending domestic violence charges will understand the additional complications that come with a domestic violence charge, including the impact it may have on child custody arrangements, family law, and the division of property.
Sexual assault is a serious crime in Canada found in section 271 of the Criminal Code. It occurs if a person is touched in any way that interferes with their sexual integrity and includes kissing, touching, intercourse, and any other form of sexual contact without the consent of both parties. It is also a hybrid offense, which means that where a defendant is charged with sexual assault, the Crown can proceed either by indictment or summary conviction. Because the law recognizes the severity of the crime, anyone found guilty of it will face imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years if indicted.
Sexual assault charges are often complex. Hiring an experienced sexual assault lawyer in Toronto is the best thing you can do if you are charged with sexual assault. To learn more about sexual assault, read our comprehensive guide on sexual assault charges in Canada.
Your Rights Under the Charter
If you have been arrested, section 10 of the Charter demands that the police informs you as soon as possible of your right to speak to a lawyer. If the police do not inform you of your right to call a lawyer, the court may grant you a remedy. For instance, certain evidence from your case may be excluded, or the Crown may agree to enter a stay of proceedings.
I am very happy that I engaged Jonathan Pyzer to represent me for some legal difficulties I ran into. He always treated me with respect and empathy, took the time to fully understand my situation and explain his strategy with me. With his expertise and guidance, I was able to get through this ordeal quickly and successfully. Throughout the process, I always felt that Jonathan was representing my interests to the best of his ability and the results proved it. Thanks to Jonathan's efforts, I can now focus on getting my life back to where I want it to be without this dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over my head. Hopefully I won't ever find myself in a similar situation, but if I do, I won't hesitate to reach out to Pyzer Criminal Lawyers for help.
If you are reading this and looking for a knowledgeable/ experienced criminal lawyer, then you found the best of all. Jonathan is exceptional and knows the criminal law to the “T”.
Unlike most lawyers who are simply after the payment aspect of the process, Jonathan is more concerned about the outcome of your case and puts in every iota of his skills and knowledge from his enormous wealth of experience. He would give you nothing but the BEST!
I was so worried and almost gave up from the poor handling of a family case from a different lawyer but Jonathan rectified it all in just a short time frame with about 2-3 visits only. Something that was literally taking the previous lawyer close to 6months to deliver any ray of hope on ... took just the touch of Jonathan’s expertise to remedy it all.
Right to RepresentationIf you have been arrested, section 10 of the Charter demands that police tell you of your right to speak to a lawyer. The police must tell you this as soon as possible. If the police do not inform you of your right to call a lawyer, the court may grant you a remedy. For instance, certain evidence from your case may be excluded, or the Crown may agree to enter a stay of proceedings.
Right to be InformedAlso, under section 10 is the right to be informed why you have been arrested. As soon as possible after your arrest, police must tell you why you have been arrested. To learn more about unlawful arrest, read our comprehensive guide on unlawful arrest.
Right to Remain SilentOften, one of the best ways you can help yourself if you have been arrested is to not talk to the police. If you are arrested, you will have to give the police your name, date of birth, and address, but you should not say anything else. We always recommend that you talk to a criminal defence assault lawyer before talking to the police.
Investigation of Assault Charges
Oftentimes, a person will know that the police are investigating them for an assault. In other instances, a person may only have a hunch. Pyzer Criminal Lawyers can help in both circumstances. If you have a hunch the police are investigating you, call us to hear your options. We will be able to determine if the police are investigating you, and advise you on the next steps to take.
If you already know you are being investigated for assault or have a warrant out for your arrest, the best thing to do is call an experienced assault lawyer. As experienced defence lawyers, we recognize right away if there are gaps in the Crown’s case against you. If we are involved from the very beginning, we may be able to convince the Crown there is not enough evidence to proceed in prosecuting you.
If you are arrested for assault, the police may release you at the scene with a form that demands you be in court on a specific date to appear in front of a judge. Or, the police can arrest you and hold you in a jail cell until you can appear in front of a judge for a bail hearing. The point of a bail hearing is for a judge to decide whether you should be released from custody until your case goes to trial, or whether you stay in custody until your trial.
The police have to make sure you appear in front of a judge within 24 hours. Call us immediately if you or someone you know has been arrested and is being held on bail. We will appear in court with the accused and do everything we can to have them released. It is better to get a criminal defence lawyer right away to help you with your bail hearing than trying to do it alone.
As experienced defence lawyers, we recognize right away if there are gaps in the Crown’s case against you. If we are involved from the very beginning, we may be able to convince the Crown there is not enough evidence to proceed with the charges against you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Assault
What is the difference between assault, assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, and aggravated assault?
Assault refers to the act of applying force to someone without their consent. If a weapon is used during this act, it becomes an assault with a weapon. When the assault leads to bodily harm, it's considered a more serious offense known as assault causing bodily harm. The most serious type, aggravated assault, involves actions that result in wounding, maiming, disfiguring, or even endangering the victim's life. The last three forms of assault typically require more serious requirements to be present and have much more serious consequences.
What is the difference between assault and battery?
Battery is a US legal concept relating to the application of force, and is not a legal term in Canadian courts. However, it is sometimes used in describing certain facts, such as the use of force against another that results in offensive or harmful contact.
How much force is required to commit an assault?
A person commits an assault when they intentionally apply force to another person, directly or indirectly, without their consent. However, it is important to note that no physical contact is required for someone to be charged and convicted of assault. Assault can also occur when someone, for example, threatens physical force against someone or brandishes a weapon.
Is harm an element of an assault charge?
No, harm is not an essential element of assault. You can be charged with assault if you intentionally apply force to another person, directly or indirectly, without their consent, regardless of whether or not harm was caused. Assault can also occur when you threaten physical force against someone or brandish a weapon. It is important for you to note that there is no requirement of physical contact for you to be charged and convicted of assault.
Is it assault if I accidentally hit someone?
While hitting somebody accidentally does not typically amount to an assault, since the intentional application of force without consent is required, there are situations where an accidental act can still be considered assault. Some examples are if the accidental hit was a result of negligence or reckless behavior, provocation, or if the accidental hit caused significant harm or injury. For example, if a person accidentally hit someone else while throwing a punch in a fight, it could be considered assault.