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If you have been charged with any of the offences listed above (or a similar offence), contact us immediately for a free consultation.


Assault

An Assault is the application of force or the threat of force against another individual without their consent and without legal justification or excuse.  It is one of the most common offences charged under the Criminal Code.

Assault charges can be laid in a variety of situations, including domestic disputes, disagreements with neighbours, bar fights, athletic events and other violent situations. Assault chargers are often laid alongside other charges such as Uttering Threats, Forcible Confinement and/or Criminal Harassment.  More serious allegations of Assault include Assault with a Weapon or Aggravated Assault.

In order to be convicted of an Assault, the Crown must convince the court, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the accused applied force directly or indirectly to the complainant;
  • the accused intended to apply force; and
  • the complainant did not consent to the application of force by the accused.

There are a number of possible defences to an Assault charge.  These include (but are not limited to) self-defence, defence of a person or property, consent or defences based on a violation of your rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Domestic Assault

Although there is no separate offence of “Domestic Assault” or “Spousal Assault” in the Criminal Code, Assault charges laid in domestic dispute situations are generally laid under the common Assault section or Assault with a Weapon of the Criminal Code. Often, Assault charges are laid in conjunction with other charges, such as Uttering Threats, Forcible Confinement and/or Criminal Harassment.

Often, during a domestic dispute, one of the parties involved or a family member calls the police, hoping to calm the situation down.  The police arrive, someone is arrested and charges are laid. Invariably, if the individual charged is granted bail, it will likely have strict conditions not to have any communication with the complainant spouse and not to attend the family home.

These types of situations can have an immediate and severe impact on a person’s life long before the trial stage is reached. Families at the earliest stage of the proceedings are often torn apart, and the individual charged faces the possibility of a criminal record, even perhaps jail time.

However, with the assistance of counsel, variations to bail conditions are sometimes possible from an early stage to allow for a level of reconciliation where appropriate.

Given the sensitive nature of Assaults committed within the context of domestic disputes, many courthouses in the Greater Toronto Area have created specialized courtrooms, staffed by specialized prosecutors that deal exclusively with cases of Assault where the accused and complainant are spouses or partners.

To be classified as a domestic Assault for the purposes of these courts, the accused and complainant need not be married. The relationship can be any personal relationship between two people whether they are dating, living together, common law, married between a man and a woman or same sex couples.

If you or someone you know is facing domestic assault allegations, don’t waste any more time. Contact us today.

Consequences of a Conviction

Under the Criminal Code, a conviction for Assault carries a maximum possible penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

Possible Maximum Sentence:
0 years

Assault with a Weapon

The crime of Assault with a Weapon is the application or threatened application of force against another person where a weapon is used as a tool in respect of the force. Strictly speaking, any object can be a weapon. Objects like firearms, knives or clubs are easily recognized as weapons; however, individuals have been convicted of this offence for threatening and striking other persons with objects like snowballs, loafs of bread or even water.

An individual may be charged with committing the offence of Assault with a Weapon simply by knowingly waving a knife or object in the direction of a person, pointing a firearm at a person or striking another individual with an object. In fact, simply having a weapon openly on your person while taking part in an Assault is sometimes all it takes to have more severe charges levied against you.

Consequences of a Conviction

Under the Criminal Code, a conviction for Assault with a Weapon carries a maximum possible penalty of ten years imprisonment should the Crown choose to proceed by indictment, and 18 months imprisonment should the Crown proceed by way of summary conviction.

Possible Maximum Sentence:
0 years

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated Assault is the most serious form of Assault. An Aggravated Assault charge requires conduct that results in serious and potentially life-endangering harm to another person. For this reason, Aggravated Assault charges are rarer than common Assault charges and should be taken extremely seriously.

The offence of Aggravated Assault is commonly seen in both domestic and non-domestic situations and is often laid alongside other charges such as Uttering Threats, Assault with a Weapon and/or Forcible Confinement.

Consequences of a Conviction

Under the Criminal Code, a conviction for Aggravated Assault carries a maximum possible penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

Possible Maximum Sentence:
0 years

Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault is any Assault of a sexual nature. Sexual Assault charges are some of the most serious charges one can face. In addition to a criminal record and possibly significant jail time, a Sexual Assault conviction carries a certain stigma and will result in the individual’s name being included on various sex offender registries.

Being charged with Sexual Assault is a nightmare for the accused. The process is often lengthy and uncertain and can put a heavy strain on the accused and his or her family.

Sexual Assault cases are often quite complicated because they involve special rules of evidence that prohibit certain claims or defences to be raised. Procedures and limitations such as these lend to confusion and frustration for an unrepresented accused. Sometimes, Sexual Assault cases also involve complex scientific evidence, including DNA testing.

There is no room for error in handling a Sexual Assault case. The consequences of a conviction are profound and lasting, if not permanent. When faced with a Sexual Assault charge, it is imperative that the accused retain counsel that possesses a full understanding of the options and tools available to fight these charges. Counsel for the accused can often retain private investigators, hire defence scientific experts and analyze the evidence of the prosecutor to discover the weaknesses in the Crown’s case. Experience and a depth of knowledge of this area of the law is required in order to make many difficult tactical decisions about how to best defend against a claim of Sexual Assault.

Unlike in the United States, there is no statute of limitations for crimes in Canada. Often, complaints and charges are laid in what are deemed “historical offences” that may have occurred decades ago.

A person facing Sexual Assault charges may find that they are barred from asserting defences that they believe should be available to them. The past sexual history of a complainant can only be brought up in court after a complex hearing before a judge. Any form of record relating to the complainant (such as counselling, medical records, or even police records) can often only be accessed by the defence after receiving special permission from a judge. Often, the accused believes that the complainant had consented to the encounter; however, the definition of “consent”, and the parameters of the so called “mistake of fact” defence, are often quite confusing and may seem counterintuitive.

If you or someone you know is being accused of Sexual Assault, don’t waste any more time. Contact us today.

Consequences of a Conviction

Under the Criminal Code, a conviction for Sexual Assault caries a maximum possible penalty of 10 years imprisonment and, if the complainant is under the age of 16 years, to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year, should the Crown choose to proceed by indictment, and 18 months imprisonment and, if the complainant is under the age of 16 years, to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of 90 days, should the Crown proceed by way of summary conviction.

Possible Maximum Sentence:
0 years

Uttering Threats

The crime of Uttering Threats to Cause Death or Bodily Harm is a charge under the Criminal Code, where a Threat has been interpreted to include “any menace or denunciation that ill will befall the recipient” and Bodily Harm includes psychological hurt in addition to physical injury. When considering the relevant facts, the words themselves must be looked at in the context in which they were spoken or written, in light of the person to whom they were addressed and the circumstances in which they were uttered. It doesn’t matter whether the accused was capable of carrying out the threat. The accused may have a legitimate defence where there is a reasonably credible alternative meaning of the words.

The charge is commonly laid alongside Assault charges and can involve domestic violence, public disputes between strangers, and electronic messages over text or facebook.

Consequences of a Conviction

Under the Criminal Code, a conviction for Uttering Threats carries a maximum possible penalty of 5 years imprisonment should the Crown choose to proceed by indictment, and 18 months imprisonment should the Crown proceed by way of summary conviction.

Possible Maximum Sentence:
0 years

Forcible Confinement

Under the Criminal Code, a conviction for Forcible Confinement carries a maximum possible penalty of 10 years imprisonment should the Crown choose to proceed by indictment, and 18 months imprisonment should the Crown proceed by way of summary conviction.

Consequences of a Conviction

Under the Criminal Code, a conviction for Forcible Confinement caries a maximum possible penalty of 10 years imprisonment should the Crown choose to proceed by indictment, and 18 months imprisonment should the Crown proceed by way of summary conviction.

Possible Maximum Sentence:
0 years

Criminal Harassment

Criminal Harassment, sometimes known as stalking, generally consists of repeated conduct that is carried out over a period of time and which causes a person to reasonably fear for their safety or the safety of someone they know. Criminal Harassment does not have to result in physical injury in order to make it a crime.

Criminal Harassment is commonly laid in relation to domestic violence offences but is also seen frequently in cases involving text messages or social networks such as facebook or twitter, or disputes between family members, neighbours, or former friends or co-workers.

Conduct that could result in Criminal Harassment includes repeatedly following a person, repeatedly communicating with a person, stalking a home, workplace or residence where a person happens to be or engaging in threatening conduct directed at a person.

In order to secure a Criminal Harassment conviction, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • the accused engaged in the activity in question and knew or was reckless about how their conduct would be perceived by the complainant; and
  • the complainant reasonably feared for their safety or the safety of someone connected to them under the circumstances.

A Criminal Harassment charge, whether in the form of stalking or cyber-bullying, or any repeated pattern of conduct, is treated quite seriously.

Consequences of a Conviction

Under the Criminal Code, a conviction for Criminal Harassment caries a maximum possible penalty of 10 years imprisonment should the Crown choose to proceed by indictment, and 18 months imprisonment should the Crown proceed by way of summary conviction.

Possible Maximum Sentence:
0 years
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