People charged with assault in Canada are often confused about the seriousness of the matter. They often contact our firm after being accused of the crime, and “how bad is an assault charge?” is among the first questions they ask. This unawareness is because there are many types of assault charges in Canada, and each carries different sentences. Therefore, understanding the broad-scale classification of assault charges under Canadian law is important.
Assault under Canada’s criminal code covers almost everything from a threat to actual harm that leads to someone’s hospitalization. In addition, assault charges in Canada are also categorized according to the type of assault done, such as verbal, sexual, aggravated, and more.
In this blog, we will discuss how Canada’s criminal code defines assault and its different types. We’ll also look at the kind of penalties each assault carries.
What Is An Assault?
According to Canada’s Criminal Code Section 265 (1), a person commits an assault when:
- Without the consent of the other person, he applies force on him intentionally and does it either directly or indirectly
- He attempts or threatens to apply force to another person and lets that person believe that he can hurt him
- While openly carrying a weapon, he addresses or threatens the other person
The take-home points from this definition are that the threat of inflicting harm on someone is all that is required to charge someone with an assault, but at the same time, the threat should be more than just words. For example, if the accused makes a related move or gesture to intimidate the victim.
Moreover, a physical injury does not have to occur for an assault charge to take place. Lastly, the person being charged with assault directly intended to harm the person, and the person being harmed did not give his consent.
Most Common Types Of Assault
This is the most basic type of assault charge in Canada. Also referred to as “common assault,” is charged when the physical squabble between two people, such as when fist fights occur. Both attempted and threatened assaults fall into this category.
For first-time offenders, the simple assault is usually treated as a summary conviction, and the prosecutor rarely seeks jail time for those found guilty. However, in more severe cases of simple assault, it may be treated as an indictable offence that requires a more formal court process and a stricter sentence.
This is a more serious type of assault that is always charged with an indictable offence. In this type of assault, the attacker intends to harm the victim by using a weapon, such as a knife, a gun, or a heavy object like a bat. The results of this kind of assault are real danger of death for the victim or severe or life-long crippling injuries.
Aggravated assault cases often result in severe punishments, including a maximum of 14 years jail time. Moreover, when an aggravated assault occurs, it tends to be quite evident as the victim’s injuries might be visible.
Sexual assault can include anything from non-consensual touch to rape. Penalties for this type of assault usually depend on how extensive the physical factor of the assault was. It also depends on other factors, such as the relation between the victim and the attacker.
Like simple assault, sexual assault may also be treated as both summary conviction (less serious offence) or indictable offence, which may include 18 months to 10 years of jail time and mandatory inclusion of the guilty person on the sexual offender database.
These are the most common types of assault experienced by most people in Canada. Some other types of assault may include:
- Domestic assault – Usually treated as aggravated assault depending upon the harm inflicted on a person by his spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, or some other family member(s)
- Assault causing bodily harm – may not be upgraded to aggravated assault but carries severe penalties
- Assault with a weapon
- Assault against a police officer
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