What is an assault?
Assault is the intentional application of force to another person without their consent. Assault can also include any attempt to apply force without consent, or through actions or gestures threatening to apply force. A simple charge of assault does not require that the alleged victim actually sustain any physical injuries.
Are there different kinds of assault?
Yes. In addition to assault there is also assault with a weapon/assault causing bodily harm, and aggravated assault. There are also offences for assault relating that are sexually based. There is sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, and aggravated sexual assault. Follow the links for more information on each offence. There is also a separate offence for assaulting a peace officer.
Can I get a peace bond?
Yes. In circumstances where you are charge with minor assault the Crown Attorney may offer a peace bond or a lawyer may be able to negotiate a peace bond on your behalf. While you may have been charged with a minor assault, there are other factors that can impact whether a peace bond will be offered in your case. If you have a recent prior conviction for assault or if you have a lengthy criminal record then it is unlikely that the Crown Attorney will agree to a peace bond. Read more about peace bonds.
Can I get an absolute discharge or a conditional discharge?
Conditional and absolute discharges are available for some charges of assault, but not all. If you are charged with aggravated assault, sexual assault with a weapon or aggravated sexual assault then you are not eligible for either a conditional or absolute discharge. Depending on the facts of the case, it may be difficult to get a discharge for assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm. Similar to a peace bond, there are several factors that can determine whether you receive a discharge, including; whether you have received a discharge in the past, whether you have a prior criminal record, the extent of the injuries, the circumstances surrounding the assault, and whether it would be contrary to the public interest to grant you a discharge. Follow the link for more on absolute and conditional discharges.
Can a get a conditional sentence?
A conditional sentence is available if you receive a conviction for assault (summary or indictable), and assault with a weapon / assault causing bodily harm where the Crown Attorney proceeded summarily. Where the Crown Attorney proceeds by indictment or you are convicted of aggravated assault, you are not eligible for a conditional sentence.
What are some defences to assault?
A common defence to assault is self-defence. Whether this defence is available will depend upon whether a person reasonable fears for his or her safety and whether the application of force was proportional in the circumstances. Depending upon the circumstances of the alleged offence, defence of property may be a defence available. A honest mistaken belief that consent had be given can also be a defence to an assault charge.
In some circumstances identity may be an issue, and the Crown Attorney might not be able to prove you were the person who assaulted the victim.
It was a consensual fight, why am I charged with assault?
Even where you engage in a consensual fight, a person is not capable of consenting to the application of force causing non-trivial bodily harm. There are exceptions to this rule, such as school yard scuffles between children. There is also an exception for sporting activities where the intentional application of force is permitted within the rules of the game.
What is the penalty for assault?
For simple assault, the maximum penalty you can receive is 6 months in jail and/or $5,000 fine for a summary conviction, and 5 years in jail if the Crown Attorney proceeds by indictment.
For assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm, the maximum penalty is 18 months in jail for a summary conviction and 10 years in jail if the Crown Attorney proceeds by indictment.
For aggravated assault, the maximum penalty is 14 years in jail.
Follow the link for information on penalties for sexual assault offences.
I have been charged with assault, what should I do?
Whether you are charged with simple assault or you have been charged with something as serious as aggravated assault, you should retain a lawyer immediately. A conviction for assault can impact your ability to travel and gain future employment.
If there is a basis for a charge of assault and the Crown Attorney can prove the case against you, you may want to consider registering for an anger management program. You should consider speaking with a lawyer and have a lawyer review the disclosure before you register for an anger management course.