Assault Offences

There are a number of offences that fall under the category of assault. In simple terms an assault is defined as an unwanted touching.

Most assaults are categorized as hybrid offences which can proceed either summarily or by indictment at the discretion of crown counsel. Typically crown will elect to have matters heard summarily when they are more minor in nature however this rule of thumb does not always hold true. the level of punishment for a summary proceeding is typically much less than if the matter proceeded by indictment.

Simple Assault

These are charges of assault where there is no significant lasting injury. Incidents that involve slaps, shoves, pushing, and light punches typically fall under this heading of assault. The use of a weapon or significant injury take an assault up from a simple assault to more serious charges as discussed below. I have seen charges of assault for incidents as minor as pushing and missing with a punch.

Assault With a Weapon

As the name of the charge implies this involves an allegation of an assault while using a weapon. the definition of a weapon is very loose. I have represented individuals charged with this offence where the offending weapon was a sandwich. Like simple assault a charge can be laid even if the complainant is not even struck. For example throwing a pop can at someone but missing could lead to a charge of assault with a weapon.

Assault Causing Bodily Harm

This charge relates to an assault which leads to the bodily harm of an individual. In order to be found guilty of this type of assault there does not have to be an intention to cause the specific type of injury that was caused but merely an intention to cause non-trivial or non-trifling injury. The charge can also be proven if a reasonable person in the circumstances should have foreseen the risk of non-trivial or non-trifling harm that would be caused by their actions. A charge of this type may negate the defence of consent as the law states that a person cannot consent to bodily harm.

Aggravated Assault

Is an assault which results in the wounding. maiming, or disfiguring of a person or the endangering of a person's life. This type of assault requires a specific factual finding to be made by the court in order for a conviction to be found. Similar to assault causing bodily harm there does not need to be an intention to cause the specific injury to an individual for this charge to be made out. Consent is not a defence to aggravated assault.

Sexual Assault

There are a number of charges that fall under the heading of sexual assault and related offences. Theses charges are described under Sexual Offences. For a charge to be included under a sexual assault there must be a sexual component to the incident. This does not necessarily mean that the purpose of the act was sexual in nature but rather there is a sexual connection to the action.

Assault Peace Officer

This type of assault is specifically related to a person in authority whose role is to protect the peace. The most obvious example is that of a police officer although there are many individuals who can qualify as a "peace officer".


The maximum sentence for assault offences is 14 years in prison

Case Examples

R. v. P - Sexual Assault, Sexual Interference

Client was charged with Sexual Assault and Sexual Interference. Through the course of cross examining the complainant, the client's ex-wife, it become clear that the allegations were only made after the client had been forced to go to family court in order to find where his children had been taken by the ex-wife. The ex-wife had absconded with the children to Saskatchewan from Ontario. In cross examination it was revealed that the complainant was clearly lying on at least two important details. As a result of the cross examination crown counsel stayed the charges against the client.

R. v. J. - Assault Police Officer

Client was charged with Assaulting a Police Officer. The allegations made by the police officer were that after stopping my client and requesting that he exit his vehicle he became aggressive and attempted to strike the officer and possibly tried to gain control of the officer's firearm. As a result the client was tazered at least twice. At trial the two officers provided conflicting testimony on cross examination and I was able to submit that the Officer who tazered my client may have misperceived the situation due the charged atmosphere during the traffic stop. the client was acquitted on all charges.

R. v. Youth - Assault With a Weapon, Assault, Mischief, Uttering Threats

Client pled guilty to one charge of Assault Weapon other charges were withdrawn following negotiation. At the sentencing of the youth crown counsel sought a short sharp custody sentence and because the offence is listed as a primary compulsory offence the crown submitted that a DNA sample of my client should be taken pursuant to the mandatory provisions of the Criminal Code. During my submissions to the court I argued that the client had no previous record and was unlikely to commit future offences and as such the appropriate sentence was a conditional discharge (not considered a criminal record). I further argued that notwithstanding that the Criminal Code made a DNA sample mandatory, that the compulsory provisions of the criminal code in fact violated the principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act which is the primary Act when dealing with young offenders. On sentence the judge agreed with my submissions and ordered a Conditional Discharge and refused to order the DNA sample be taken. Crown counsel later withdrew their appeal of the DNA decision prior to it being heard at the upper level court.

R v. H - Sexual Interference

 Client was charged with Sexual Interference. Through cross-examination at trial I was able to show the court that the crown witnesses had very differing stories on key points of evidence as well as a motive for the witnesses to make up the allegation due to a previous dispute with my client. My client was acquitted on all charges and one of the crown witnesses was reprimanded for attempting to interfere with the evidence of another witness.

R. v. C. - Domestic Assault and Uttering Death Threats

Client had been charged with assaulting his wife by pushing her against the bed, throwing her against a mirror, and grabbing her by the throat, as well as telling her that he was going to kill himself but take her with him. During cross-examination at trial the complainant wife admitted that she had been continuing a extra-marital relationship with a couple and that the client had expressed his disagreement with the relationship. Complainant admitted that she and the client were always telling each other that they would kill another and that the client never actually struck out at her but rather testified that the alleged actions were similar to trying to contain an argument or self-defence. During submissions I argued that that there were no realistic threats given the history of the couples relationship and that any reasonable person that was aware of the full nature of the couples relationship would not have taken the words as a threat. The court accepted my argument in full and the client was found not guilty on all charges and was able to continue his career as a cross border truck driver.







  DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is not intended as legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer.


Copyright 2009 Brendan Neil

Providing Criminal representation in south central Ontario including; Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Brampton, Mississauga, Hamilton, Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, and surrounding areas for all Criminal Code and Controlled Drugs and Substances Act Offences

Brendan Neil, Criminal Trial Lawyer, Assault

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