At its essence, assault is touching someone without their consent. To be found guilty of assault, the Crown Attorney needs to prove that an assault occurred and that one had the intent to assault another. A simple push or shove is an assault. However, a person who accidentally bumped into another or pushed them by accident in everyday life at say a busy shopping mall, amusement park or in a lineup for example, would not be guilty of assault – criminal intent would be lacking. Spitting on another person is an assault, even though it does not involve actually hitting of another.
Assaults occur in all sorts of contexts, which are too numerous to list however, some common examples are domestic incidents between couples, disputes between strangers that escalate out of control and bar fights. Generally a single count of assault can be minor or very serious. A first offender found guilty of a minor assault (i.e., a push of someone else in the heat of the moment) will be treated with leniency assuming that individual took necessary steps to mitigate the situation afterwards (i.e., took an anger management class or a PARS program). A withdrawal of the charge could be negotiated by way of the accused entering into a peace bond (which is a promise to keep the peace for one year and not a criminal record whatsoever). While many assault cases are on the minor end, some are not. Should an accused have multiple assault charges or assault charges in addition to other charges, a peace bond usually will not be granted and the courts will not be lenient.
A prior record may also affect the Crown or Courts’ position on sentence should an accused be found guilty of assault. There are also variations of assault charges that are more severe than a simple assault, they are: assault cause bodily harm, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault and sexual assault to name a few. These offences are far more serious and carry with them far more serious penalties upon conviction. In assault type cases, self defence can be a real defence to the charges, should a physical touching have taken place.
Self defence is another complex area of law – it does not carry with it an unlimited immunity to assault another in defence – there are limits. If you or a loved one find yourselves charged with an assault or other form of assault as discussed above, or think your case is one involving self defence, please contact Mr. Baratz for a free initial consultation.