Can Assault Charges Be Dropped by the Victim in Canada

You may be wondering if assault charges can be dropped by the victim in Canada. In Canada, the Police charge the defendant and the Crown decides whether to prosecute. As such, alleged victims (Complainants) are not able to directly drop assault charges in Canada. 

In Canada, having assault charges dropped may be the best way to have a case dismissed with a positive result. You may be wondering if assault charges can be dropped by the victim in Canada, as is often shown in TV shows and movies. However, the Canadian legal system works differently than the American one, and charges are not generally laid by the Complainant in Canada.  Instead, the Police charge the defendant and the Crown decides whether to prosecute. As such, alleged victims (Complainants) are not able to directly drop the charges in Canada

How is someone charged with a crime in Canada?

In Canada, a person is charged by the Police for a criminal offence. The process for getting charged with a crime in Canada varies from province to province, but the general steps remain the same. First, the authorities would be made aware of the crime, typically by filing a police report. From there, the police decide whether or not they want to lay a charge. If the police do lay charges, then in the court process the Crown will determine whether or not to proceed with those charges.

Another way someone can be charged with a criminal offence is by laying a private information. This means that instead of filing a police report, or after charges have been denied by the police or Crown, a private citizen can go to a Justice of the Peace to request that the potential defendant be brought to court. After this, it is still up to the Crown to determine if there is a reasonable case to prosecute the defendant.  Private Informations are extremely rare.

How are assault charges dropped in Canada?

Having Assault Charges Dropped Through a Bargain

Sometimes, a defendant’s lawyer can strike a bargain with the Crown in order to reduce or eliminate the number of criminal charges. If a defendant has been charged with multiple assault charges, a defence lawyer may suggest pleading guilty to some in order to get the others dropped. Other times, it may be possible to have your charges changed to a milder charge, such as changing from an indictable offence to a summary one. A good defence lawyer will be able to tell you if there is room for bargaining to have charges dropped. Of course, you would only bargain if you wanted to plead guilty at all.  You always have the option of proceeding to trial.

Having Assault Charges Dropped Due to Support of the Victim

Support of the victim can help get charges dropped, but because the Crown alone decides whether to proceed with a prosecution, it is far from guaranteed. If the Complainant has no interest in the prosecution, the Crown might take that into account, but it is one of many factors the Crown will consider.  The Complainant has no direct say in whether assault charges proceed.  The Complainant is considered a witness and cannot drop charges. 

What to do if you’re charged with assault in Canada?

If you are charged with assault in Canada, contact a defence lawyer immediately. Brian McGlashan is a defence lawyer in Edmonton, Alberta, and he is your best bet at getting charges dropped in the case of assault. If you need the help of a skillful, experienced defence lawyer, contact Brian McGlashan

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Brian McGlashan
Brian McGlashan, co-founder of McGlashan & Company was called to the Alberta Bar in 1995. Brian has appeared in all levels of Alberta Courts. Brian practices criminal law with a primary focus on Impaired Driving charges (DUI). Brian is a member of the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association.

McGlashan & Company is an Edmonton Criminal Law Firm located just south of Edmonton’s historic Whyte Avenue.

Brian McGlashan has been defending DUI/Impaired Driving charges in Edmonton for over 20+ years.