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Spit Assault Charge - Withdrawn

I recently represented a man facing criminal charges of assault in northern Alberta. My client attended the local branch of a bank because he needed assistance with his account. He was told he did not have the necessary materials that the local branch needed so they could not help him. He was upset with this response and explained that he had been assisted at a different branch with the same materials he was presenting at this branch. He felt the tellers were being rude and engaging in racism. Eventually, he left the branch.

Unbeknownst to him, the branch manager reported to the RCMP that he assaulted her by spitting on her, and this report was taken by a police officer. A warrant was issued for my client’s arrest. This warrant was later executed when my client was traveling through an airport. Because the RCMP officer never spoke with my client, never arrested him or made any notes about his identity, identity in the case was at issue. My client met with me and explained what happened. I reviewed the disclosure and found many issues with the prosecutor’s ability to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, including the evidence relating to the determination of the honesty of my client’s belief. Another issue included the fact that this bank still had the Covid-19 plastic barriers set up throughout the entire customer-facing side of the bank, making it impossible for my client to spit at anyone.

The matter was set for trial. My client and I travelled 14 hours in total to go to and from court. While there, the Crown Prosecutor finally realized the difficulties with the very high burden of proof and withdrew the charge on the day of trial. Considering a guilty plea was not pursued due to the strong belief in my client's innocence and the significant issues with the prosecution's evidence, a conviction would have had serious implications for my client’s criminal record, potentially affecting his future employment and travel opportunities.

Assault Charges In Canadian Criminal Code

Section 265 sets out the offence assault. Here the prosecution was claiming the non-consensual application of force by spittle. Aggravated assault, as a more severe form of assault within the spectrum of assault charges under the Canadian Criminal Code, involves actions that lead to or could lead to bodily harm, underlining the gravity of such charges.

While it is unfortunate that my client was charged in the first place, this case demonstrates the very necessary work that is needed. Assault by spitting is a very serious charge, especially when it involves the application of force that could be construed as causing bodily harm. However, the deficiencies in this case were significant. It is essential for the judge to instruct the jury to consider the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for this belief, provided there is sufficient evidence to constitute a defenсe. This case could have taken a different course, perhaps a peace bond. A peace bond is a court order which in some cases is a great outcome. However, it would have been fundamentally unfair in this situation.

Thankfully through strategic legal work, my client has walked away from this offence and the criminal justice system. Understanding the legal consequences of assault charges, including sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault, is crucial, and seeking advice from a criminal defence lawyer can provide the necessary guidance.

If you are facing an assault allegation, contact the lawyers at Alberta Legal today.

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