Tyson Dahlem Criminal Defence Lawyer

Assault, Assault Causing Bodily Harm, Assault with a Weapon, and Aggravated Assault 

Assault charges range from the most minor shoves to very serious aggravated assaults.  A criminal conviction on an assault charge will have serious consequences for you. When most people, especially employers, police officers, judges and customs officials see that a person has a conviction for assault, their first thought is "violent criminal". Many assault charges result from minor incidents. Don't let that minor incident have a major consequence for you. Make sure you consult with a criminal lawyer before you make any decisions on what to do once you have been charged.

What is an Assault?

The Criminal Code defines assault as:  

265(1) Assault 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.

This definition applies to all forms of assault in the Criminal Code. The main point is "touching without consent" and "applies force intentionally". A push, a slap, a punch, a thrown snowball... almost anything can be considered an assault. Any threat to use force is also considered an assault if the person being threatened reasonably believes that the threat will be carried out.

Common assault is the most minor of the assault charges. The charge is laid where an assault took place but there was no injury.

Assault Causing Bodily Harm

Sometimes the law is very simple; assault causing bodily harm is exactly what it sounds like. Where a person was injured in some fashion in an assault, this is the charge that gets laid. The injury may be as trivial as a bleeding nose, or the injury could  be much more serious.

Aggravated Assault

This is the most serious form of assault. It occurs where the assault "wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant". Convictions for aggravated assault usually result in a lengthy period of incarceration.

Assault with a Weapon

Assault with a weapon is also exactly what it sounds like. However, the definition of weapon in the Criminal Code is extremely broad. It is: 

 "weapon" means any thing used, designed to be used or intended for use
(a) in causing death or injury to any person, or
(b) for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person
and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, includes a firearm;

A weapon can be anything that is used as a weapon. It obviously includes knives, guns, clubs and the like. A very large percentage of assault with a weapon charges don't involve objects that are thought of as weapons. Hitting someone with a bag of vegetables is "assault with a weapon". Throwing your phone at someone is also "assault with a weapon".

I hit somebody... what defence could I have?

There are many defences to assault charges. If you are in a fight, the other party "consented" to the physical contact. You also have a right to defend yourself if you are attacked. You cannot use more force that is necessary to defend yourself. (For example, in Canada you can't shoot people on your property unless your life or that of a person under your protection is in danger.) You are also entitled to use reasonable force to defend your property. However many of these defences are highly technical and require the assistance of lawyer for there to be any prospect of success.

What are the penalties?

All assault convictions can involve incarceration. The maximum for assault is 5 years. The maximum for assault causing bodily harm is ten years. The maximum for aggravated assault is 14 years. In addition to jail, the court may also levy fines, place people under probation orders, put into place weapons prohibitions, and require the convicted person to submit a DNA sample to the government.

The criminal record for an offence of violence will also usually result in travel restrictions.  

Domestic and Spousal Assault

If the police are called to a domestic situation, it is an unfortunate truth that someone is leaving in the back of the police cruiser. The RCMP and many other police forces have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to spousal assault. No matter how minor the allegation, be it a slap, a push, or whatever, upon the allegation of violence in a domestic situation, there will be charges laid.

I've been charged with assaulting my spouse.  What do I do?

Invariably a person charged with assaulting their spouse is under "no-go" and "no-contact" conditions. You cannot contact your spouse or go to wherever she happens to be. DO NOT BREACH THESE RELEASE CONDITIONS. The courts do not care that it was a misunderstanding. The courts do not care that you love her or him and want to reconcile. The courts do no care that you can't go home; If you breach your release conditions you will be charged with the additional criminal offence of failing to comply with the release conditions. The bigger concern is that your bail might be revoked and the Crown prosecutor will seek to have you detained pending trial.

The release conditions can be modified. Usually it is best and fastest to have a lawyer do this for you. This involves getting the consent of the Crown to modify the release conditions, or alternatively, conducting a bail review at the Court of Queen's Bench

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