Different Types of Assault Charges

Different Types of Assault Charges

In Canada, an assault is a criminal offence that can lead to serious consequences. There are different forms of assaults which carry different consequences.

What is an Assault?

The Criminal Code, states that a person commits an assault when:

  • without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
  • 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
  • while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.

It’s important to understand that even a minimal application of force or the threat to apply force to another person can lead to an assault charge. As you can also see from the above definition, there are many ways that a person can be charged with an assault. There are many types of assaults in Canada that can lead to different consequences.

Simple Assault

This is the most basic form of assault and is a hybrid offence. This means that the charges can be prosecuted by indictment or summarily. Simple assaults that are prosecuted by indictment are treated more severely, require a more complex and formal court process, and carry a maximum of 5 years in prison. Whereas, simple assaults prosecuted summarily are less severe with simpler, less complex court process and carries a maximum punishment of six months in jail and/or $5000 fine.

Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm

As the name suggests, this type of assault charge happens when one commits an assault while using a weapon or commits an assault that causes bodily harm. This type of assault is also a hybrid offence but the maximum penalties are harsher. If prosecuted by indictment the maximum is 10 years incarceration sentence. If prosecuted summarily, the maximum is 18 months incarceration.

Aggravated assault

A person commits an aggravated assault who wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the victim. Unlike the simple assault or assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm, this offence is straight indictable that carries a maximum prison term of 14 years.

Sexual assault

A sexual assault occurs when a person forces another to take part in any touching of a sexual nature without consent. Determining whether the touching is sexual in nature is based on an objective standard. In other words, courts look at the surrounding circumstances surrounding the contact, including: body part being touched, nature of the contact, situation in which it occurred, words and gestures, etc.

Sexual assault is a hybrid offence. If prosecuted summarily, the maximum penalty is 18 months incarceration. If prosecuted by indictment, the maximum is 10 years. The punishment is harsher if the victim is under 16 years: on a summary conviction, the maximum becomes 2 years less a day and a minimum of six months incarceration. On indictment, the maximum becomes 14 years and a minimum of one year incarceration.    

Sexual assault with a weapon, threats to third party or causing bodily harm

This form of assault involves a sexual assault where:

  • a weapon is used; or
  • the person committing the offence threatens to cause bodily harm to a person other than the victim; or
  • the person causes bodily harm to the victim; or
  • the person is a party to the offence with any other person

This form of sexual assault is indictable. It carries a maximum of 14 years to life in prison. If a restricted firearm is used, then the minimum sentence is 5 years (for a first offence), 7 years (for a subsequent offence).

Aggravated sexual assault

This form of assault occurs when the victim is seriously wounded, maimed, disfigured or is in danger of dying as a result of a sexual assault.  This form of sexual assault is also indictable and carries a minimum prison sentence of 4, 5 or 7 years depending on the circumstances. It also carries a maximum of life in prison.

Assaulting a peace officer

This type of assault can encompass the above forms of assaults. The only difference is that the assault occurs on a peace officer or a public officer engaged in the execution of their duties. This is a hybrid offence that can be prosecuted summarily or by indictment. The punishment ranges from maximum of 6 or 18 months on summary conviction to a maximum of 5, 10, or 14 years on indictable matters.

As you can see, the law on assaults is vast, complex and carry significant consequences. If you’ve been charged with an assault, we can help. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation.

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