If you’ve been charged with assault in Canada, the first thing you’re likely wondering is how you can beat an assault charge. Assault charges in Canada can be a difficult and confusing situation to go through. Charges are usually laid by the police, not the alleged victim, and there are many layers of what an assault charge means. If you’re looking to beat an assault charge in Canada, there are a few things you can do to help your case along.
The first thing you should do if you are ever charged with assault in Canada is contact an experienced defence lawyer. Defence lawyers will talk you through your case and make sure you fully understand what it is you’re being charged with – and how to beat that charge. If you’re looking for an experienced defence lawyer in Edmonton who can provide you with information and strategies for your defence, contact Brian McGlashan at McGlashan and Company. Brian has been a defence lawyer for over 25 years, and will help you with your case.
Once you contact a defence lawyer, your lawyer will help you understand your case fully, as well as provide you with a number of strategies for defence.
What is Assault?
Assault, as defined by the Canadian Criminal Code Section 265 (1) : 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 cause 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.
In other words, in Canada, an assault can be anything from uttering threats (threats to physically harm, kill another person, threatening to damage their property, or to injure or kill an animal in their possession). making a threatening gesture (with and without a weapon), physically touching a person without their consent, and causing any kind of injury.
Types of Assault
Within the Criminal Code, there are several kinds of assault that all face different punishments and have different levels of gravity.
Assault – Section 266 of the Criminal Code
A charge of simple ‘assault’ is also known or referred to as ‘common assault’ as it is the most typical assault charge. These are unplanned assaults where the assaults tend to be relatively minor in comparison to other kinds of assault, such as threats and attempted assaults, fights that end with a physical element, or other kinds of behaviour of a similar nature. A simple assault does not often end with jail time for first time offenders; however, you are liable for up to five years imprisonment when charged with assault.
Assault with a Weapon or Causing Bodily Harm – Section 267 of the Criminal Code
Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm is a much more serious charge than simple assault. This charge refers to threatening with, using, or carrying a weapon or imitation of a weapon, causing bodily harm (hard that interferes with their life or comfort for more than a short time), or choking or strangling a person. Being charged with this form of assault can lead to up to 10 years in jail and severe penalties.
Aggravated Assault – Section 268 in the Criminal Code
Aggravated Assault is the most severe kind of assault in Canada. If you wound, maim/disfigure, or endanger the life of another person, you can be charged with aggravated assault, which leaves you liable for severe penalties and up to 14 years imprisonment.
Assaulting a Peace Officer – Section 270 of the Criminal Code
Assaulting a peace officer, commonly referred to as assaulting a police officer, is often more severely punished than the kind of assault it would fall under, regardless of being a first time offender. Assaulting a police offer has the same maximum penalties as simple assault, assault with a weapon, and aggravated assault, but as assaulting an officer is a serious offence, you are often more at risk for the maximum sentence.
Sexual Assault – Section 271 in the Criminal Code
Sexual assault is any assault on a person that violates the sexual integrity of a victim. This could be threats or physical touching of a person in a sexual nature. Sexual assault charges can make a person liable for up to 10 years in prison, unless the victim is under the age of consent (16) in which case the person charged is liable for up to 14 years imprisonment. Sexual assault with a weapon, the minimum charge is four years in prison with a maximum sentence of 14 years, depending on the use of the weapon and how many offences the person has committed. In the case of aggravated sexual assault, the minimum sentence for first time offenders is 5 years, with a maximum of a life sentence, depending on the age of the victim and the number of offences committed.
Although not detailed in the criminal code, domestic assault is the assault of a partner or former partner in a domestic relationship. Domestic assault charges are often charged depending on the gravity of the assault, but due to the nature of expected trust in the relationship, domestic assault often faces more severe consequences. Read more about domestic assault here.
What are Defences Against Assault Charges?
There are several defences against assault charges. Your lawyer will be able to help you find the best defence for your case.
Self-Defence or Defence of Others
Self-defence or the defence of another person is a reasonable case against an assault charge. It boils down to who committed the offence of threats or physical altercations first, as you have the right to defend yourself and others against harm.
Assault is the unlawful use of force against another person without their consent. If you are able to prove that the person consented to your use of force, then you have a reasonable defence against this charge.
Lack of Intent
Lack of intent is when you can prove that the use of force against another person was an accident. Whether it is that you moved in a way that was not intent on harming or touching the other person, or your actions were reflexive, lack of intent shows that the force used against the other person was unintentional.
Raising of Reasonable Doubt
As with all criminal charges, if your lawyer can raise a reasonable doubt against the assault charges, you can be acquitted or have the charges dropped. Criminal charges need to be ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ and as such if your lawyer can place reasonable doubt against the charges, it can lead to acquittal.
How to Beat an Assault Charge in Canada?
Being informed about your case and the variances in assault charges within the Canadian Criminal Code is important, but that does not negate the need for a defence lawyer well versed in Criminal Law and assault charges. Be sure to hire a qualified Alberta defence lawyer if you are charged with assault.
Brian McGlashan of McGlashan and Company has been practicing criminal law since 1995! He is your best bet at beating an assault charge in Edmonton. Contact McGlashan and Company if you’re charged with a criminal offence. We’re here to help.