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Assault Charges & Punishments In Canada
Posted on December 19, 2020
Charged with assault but not sure what it means for you? Sexual assault, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon are common types of assault charges. While you may be familiar with hearing about the different charges or have been charged with one yourself, do you know what exactly they are?
In Canada, assault charges can mean different things based on the kind of charge and severity of the crime. The following outlines what you need to know about assault charges and the potential severity if convicted.
What Is Assault?
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, assault is defined under three acts.
Section 265 (1) states that a person commits an assault when:
- (a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
- (b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
- (c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.
Types Of Offences
Before we list the types of assault, let us go over the types of offences in Canada. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, there are three types: summary conviction offences, indictable offences, and hybrid offences.
A summary conviction is the least serious of the three levels. Charges are less severe with smaller fines and shorter or no jail sentences. On the other hand, an indictable offence is a more severe offence and can include a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Hybrid offences are a mix of summary and indictable offences. The Crown may choose to proceed by either. When laying the charges, the Crown considers many factors. These include the seriousness of the assault, the accused’s prior criminal record, and the complexity of the case.
Simple assault occurs when there is no weapon use during the crime, and injuries are minor. This kind is the most common and least serious of the assault offences. In Canada, it can be prosecuted as either a summary conviction or indictable offence.
Assault With A Weapon
As defined above, assault with a weapon occurs when an individual carries, uses or threatens to use a weapon. This charge can also be laid when intimidation is used to cause bodily harm. Most people imagine a gun or knife, but a weapon can also include everyday items. For example, a glass bottle or vehicle are considered weapons when used to threaten or cause injury to another person.
Possession of a restricted or prohibited firearm with ammunition also falls under this type of assault charge. Assault with a weapon is always a serious crime with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Assault Causing Bodily Harm
If you are charged with assault causing bodily harm, it means the police and Crown agree that you have intentionally hurt or injured someone in a way that impacts their health and comfort. Because this is a hybrid offence, the punishable time is dependent on the injuries and other factors of the crime. A summary conviction could mean up to 18 months in jail or up to 10 years imprisonment under an indictable offence.
Aggravated assault is a severe and indictable offence with a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. When a person commits an aggravated assault, it means they wounded, maimed, disfigured, or endangered the complainant’s life.
Sexual Assault & Aggravated Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a serious charge that will impact you for life. If convicted of sexual assault, you will have to go on the registered sex offenders list. A sexual assault charge will affect your work and relationships for the rest of your life.
The Criminal Code defines the three levels of sexual assault:
- Sexual assault level 1 (s. 271):
- Sexual assault level 2 (s. 272):
- Aggravated sexual assault (level 3):
An assault that an individual commits in circumstances of a sexual nature such that it violates the sexual integrity of the victim. Level 1 involves minor physical injuries or no injuries to the victim.
Sexual assault with a weapon, threats, or causing bodily harm.
Sexual assault that results in wounding, maiming, disfiguring, or endangering the life of the victim.
Case Study Of A Sex Assault Claim
Take, for example, a case where two people engaged in sexual activity. Later, the complainant says it was not consensual, though the accused states they believe it was.
Sexual assault cases often become the complainant’s version of events against the accused person’s version of events. This quickly becomes a multi-step legal analysis where evidence is crucial. While hiring a defence lawyer is essential for any criminal charge, it is especially so when facing sexual assault allegations.
Assaulting A Police Officer Or Peace Officer
Assault on a public servant is a crime. Assaulting a police officer, peace officer, or accusations of aggravated assault of a police officer can be classified as three types of assault. There are also three ways in which the assault can happen.
Like simple assault, the first way is through the intentional application of force on an officer. The second way is by resisting arrest. The last involves lands or goods when a peace officer is in the lawful execution of duty and an alleged assault occurs. This also includes if the individual assaults a person intending to retrieve the lands or goods being taken away. In these cases, assault charges can either be a summary conviction or an indictable offence.
With so many types of assault charges and their complexity, you need the right legal team on your side. At Ross Lutz Barristers, we’ll help you fight assault charges by preparing the best possible defence for your case.