What is the Time Limit to Press Assault Charges in Canada?

If you’ve been assaulted or committed an assault, you may be wondering what the time limit in Canada is for pressing assault charges. In Canada, pressing assault charges is actually most often done by the police.  If the police have decided to press assault charges, there can be a time limit in Canada. Pressing assault charges’ time limit in Canada is six months for summary convictions, but there is no time limit for indictable offences.

There are two types of criminal procedures in Canada, and it is often up to the prosecution to decide what kind of criminal procedure is followed for an offence. Summary offences are considered the less serious of the two offences. Assault can be considered a summary offence or an indictable offence, the more serious of the two offences, and the gravity of the assault will determine the charge. Aggravated assault will always be an indictable charge, but other kinds of assault can be either a summary offence or an indictable offence, referred to as a hybrid offence.  Hybrid offences are actually the most common form of Criminal offence and the prosecutor determines whether to proceed by way of Summary Conviciton, or by Indictment.

Pressing Assault Charges for Summary Offences Time Limit

In Canada, the time limit to swear an Information and proceed with an assault charge by way of summary offence is six months. Criminal charges need to be laid by police officers (the prosecution), and if the prosecution decides the assault that occurred is a summary offence, they have six months from receiving the complaint to press charges.

If the police have received the complaint and information about the summary offence for over six months, the prosecution will be unable to proceed by way of summary offence charges without the consent of the accused. If you’ve been accused of an assault that occurred more than six months prior, and have been asked for consent to summary offence charges, consult a defence attorney to determine your options. If you refuse to consent to summary offence charges after the six month period, the prosecution has the option of proceeding by way of indictable offence procedure.

The punishment for a summary offence is up to $5,000 in fines, as well as up to two years (“minus a day”) imprisonment. If you end up convicted of a summary offence, you can also receive a period of probation, in addition to either a fine or jail time.

Pressing Assault Charges for Indictable Offences Time Limit

There is no time limit for pressing charges on an indictable offence, as many kinds of assault charges tend to be. Police who have received a complaint about an assault that they determine to be an indictable offence charge can wait as long as they deem necessary to charge the accused. Indictable offences are much more serious than a summary offence. If you are convicted of an indictable offence, you can face over two years imprisonment sentence.

If you have been accused of assault, be sure to contact a criminal defence lawyer immediately. Contacting an Alberta defence lawyer is your best bet at a positive outcome if you are charged with assault.

Brian McGlashan is a criminal defence lawyer with over 25 years of experience in navigating the Alberta criminal courts. Contact McGlashan and Company if you’re charged with a criminal offence. We’re here to help.