A violent act, particularly one committed in the heat of the moment, is a simple concept to understand. A person lets emotions override rational thought and acts irresponsibly. Once the situation has settled down and an individual has time to contemplate what occurred, the matter becomes more complicated. The implications of that moment start to become clear.
In Canada, violence is never tolerated. However, the level at which it is punished or condemned varies greatly. A violent act can result in scorn from the public or end with repercussions that must be sorted out by the Canadian legal system. An assault defence lawyer can inform you of how the process works and help you with your case if you are charged with assault.
The Different Types of Assault Charges
Section 265 of the Criminal Code addresses assault, which is considered one of the more severe violations a person can commit. Assault is defined as the intentional application of force upon another person, directly or indirectly, without the other person’s consent. Classified as a criminal act, it can and will be tried in court.
A key point to remember is that the threat of assault is all that is needed for a charge of assault to be filed. Whether or not an injury occurred is irrelevant. The key question is whether the person applied force intentionally or attempted or threatened by an act or gesture to apply force to another person without the other person’s consent.
Let us look at the definition of assault in its proper context. Hockey is a physical sport in which players often sustain injuries. Occasionally, a consensual fight breaks out between players or entire teams. The players generally cannot complain to the police that they were assaulted by other players because consent was given when they joined the team and stepped onto the ice and became involved in a consensual fight. However, even in a hockey game there are limits to the application of force that players are deemed by law to consent to. For example, a hockey player does not consent to another player continuing to punch them while they are lying on the ice unconscious. Further, a hockey player does not consent to a player on the other team intentionally swinging their hockey stick at their head. There have been situations in both amateur and professional hockey where players have been charged with assault. Obviously, a person in a bar who is randomly punched in the face is the victim of assault as defined by the Criminal Code.
Simple assault is assault at its most basic level. For a minor charge of simple assault occasioning no injuries, the crown will usually elect summarily. For example, where a person slaps another person in the face without their consent. A summary conviction assault is tried by a judge alone in the Ontario Court of Justice. The accused does not have the right to a preliminary hearing or a trial in the Superior Court of Justice with a judge alone or judge and jury. The accused is probably not facing a jail term unless they have a prior related record for violence. It would be rare for the crown to elect by indictment for a simple assault charge even if there are injuries. However, if the crown decides to elect by indictment on a simple assault charge, the accused may elect his or her mode of trial. The accused may elect to be tried in the Ontario Court of Justice or they may elect to be tried in the Superior Court of Justice with a judge sitting alone or a judge and jury. For an indictable assault charge the accused can also elect to have a preliminary hearing in the Ontario Court of Justice prior to their trial taking place in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Assault causing bodily harm applies when someone sustains noticeable injuries. For example, where the victim receives a broken nose and black eye. If the case is prosecuted by summary conviction, jail time can be as high as 18 months. If the crown elects by indictment, the accused may elect their mode of trial as described above. The maximum jail term for an indictable assault causing bodily harm is 10 years behind bars.
Assault with a weapon is a threat of violence or an act of violence where a gun, knife or other weapon is used. This form of assault can also be prosecuted as a summary conviction offence or as an indictable offence with the same maximum jail terms as assault causing bodily harm.
Aggravated assault involves injuries that are more severe. It also involves a situation in which the accused wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the victim. Aggravated assault is a straight indictable offence. The accused can also elect his or her mode of trial as described above. The maximum jail term is 14 years in prison.
Some other forms of assault are:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual assault with a weapon or threats or bodily harm
- Aggravated sexual assault and
- Assaulting a police officer
Assault Defence Lawyer in Ontario
If you or a loved one is facing charges of assault, you may feel overwhelmed or that you have nowhere to turn. But that is not true. The experienced lawyers at Kruse Law are just a phone call away. When you work with our firm, we are entirely committed to ensuring that your rights and freedom are protected.