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Defend Assault Charges

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Our Experience

Assault offences are common across Ontario, including in Ajax, Pickering, and Cobourg. An individual can be charged and convicted of assault for engaging in a wide range of behaviours. An assault can include anything from an unwanted touch or hug, to an individual violently striking another individual. In addition to common assault, known assault simpliciter, the Criminal Code contains other assault offences including assault with a weapon, assault – choking, assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault.

An individual may be charged with assault with a weapon where they use or brandish a weapon during the commission of an assault. An individual can be convicted of assault with a weapon even where the weapon is not actually used on the complainant. Holding a weapon while committing an assault or threatening someone with a weapon will satisfy the offence. Further, the item used does not have to be what is typically thought of as a weapon. Virtually any item can be considered a weapon, depending on how the item is used. For example, an individual may be charged with assault with a weapon for throwing an item at another person.

In 2021, the Firm represented a client charged with assault and assault with a weapon in R. v. J.D. [2021]. The client was arrested after his domestic partner alleged that he had assaulted her and brandished a weapon during an argument. The Firm engaged in lengthy Crown negotiations in the case, exploiting weaknesses uncovered during a review of the disclosure material. The Firm ultimately secured a withdrawal of both charges.

In 2023, as of May, there were 217 cases of assault in Ajax and Pickering. There were 253 total cases of assault in 2019 in Cobourg: 23 cases of assault with a weapon/bodily harm, 218 cases of assault level one and 12 cases of assaulting a peace officer. The number declined to 205 cases of assault the following year: 1 aggravated assault, 21 assault with a weapon/assault causing bodily harm, 171 assault level one and 12 assaults against a peace officer.

Similarly, in 2020, the Firm represented an individual charged with assault after being accused of brandishing a knife during an argument with his intimate partner in R. v. P.C. [2020]. The client was a permanent resident and registered accountant, further complicating matters. Being convicted of a serious offence as a permanent resident can have negative implications on the immigration process. Further, regulated professionals convicted of a criminal offence may face additional penalties from their regulating body which could include restrictions on their ability to practice in their profession. The Firm was able to protect the accused’s accounting license and avoid any negative impact on his immigration status by securing the withdrawal of the assault charge.

In 2023, Donich Law successfully represented an individual accused of hitting and choking his partner in R. v. J.S. [2023]. The accused was arrested and charged with assault and choking after he allegedly attacked his partner during a heated argument in a parking lot. A passerby witnessed the incident and contacted local police. While the complainant declined to make a statement when police arrived, the accused was nonetheless charged due to the domestic nature of the relationship. Donich Law engaged in over 18 months of Crown negotiations before securing a withdrawal of all charges.

Jail Sentences for Assault Charges in Canada

Donich Law - Assault Punishments

In 2017, the Firm represented a client charged with assault with a weapon in R. v. W.V. [2017]. The client was arrested after getting into a heated altercation with her partner which ended in her throwing a burnt pizza at him, causing a laceration on his head. Assault with a weapon charges are seen as more serious than simple assault charges for obvious reasons. As a result, the sentences handed down are typically more severe. In this case, the Firm secured a withdrawal of the charge.

Donich Law has experience defending individuals charged with a wide array of assaults including both minor and major assaults including those that occur in a domestic relationship. While there is no separate offence in the criminal code for domestic assault, there is a difference in the way domestic assaults are prosecuted.

In 2022, the Firm represented an individual charged with assault with a weapon in the context of a domestic relationship in R. v. S.Y. [2022]. The accused was charged after getting into an argument with her significant other at his place of employment. During the argument, the accused hit and pushed her domestic partner while holding her cell phone in her hand. She was charged with assault with a weapon because she was holding a phone at the time of the assault. After completing significant upfront work, the Firm secured a withdrawal of the charge.

How to Defend Assault Charges

Crown attorneys across the province prosecute domestic assault charges more vigorously than assaults occurring in the context of other relationships. The fact that an assault occurred in the context of a domestic relationship is seen as an aggravating factor due to the nature of the relationship. As a result, those convicted of domestic assault may be sentenced more severely than an individual sentenced for an assault that was not domestic in nature.

In 2019, the Firm represented an individual charged with domestic assault as a second time offender in R. v. A.V. [2019]. Given that an assault occurring in the context of a domestic relationship is already an aggravating factor, being charged with domestic assault for a second time can and often does result in a period of incarceration upon conviction. In this case, the Firm resolved the matter without a criminal record for the accused.

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Frequently Asked Questions

As a Victim of Domestic Assault, What If I Don’t feel Like the Crown Is Doing Enough?

Canada has the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, this means that in addition to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, victims have an additional set of rights promised to them in a criminal proceeding. However, these rights are limited. These rights include but are not limited to: right to information about the case, right to security and protection, and right to information about the offender. This information can be obtained through an application to the Crown. The Crown will also run the sentencing suggestion by the victim before submitting it to the judge. The victim cannot veto the sentencing but may have input. A peace bond or a low resolution may, after victim disagreement, be taken off the table by the Crown.

There are two types of input from the victim. A general input, and a victim impact statement. A victim impact statement details the way the offence has impacted the victim’s life and may be an aggravating factor in sentencing. It is important for a victim to know their rights in any criminal procedure.

As a Victim, Can I Attend Court? Can I Participate in Court Appearances? What Happens If I Do Not Show Up to Court?

Yes, victims can attend court. Courts are all public forums in Canada except in very rare circumstances. The majority of the court appearances leading up to trial are case management appearances, so victims have no real role until the trial. Then the victim becomes the Crown’s main witness.

During sentencing, a victim may be able to provide a victim impact statement. Aside from the victim impact statement, victims have little to no input on the actual sentencing procedure. Witnesses must testify unless they are physically unable to do so. If a witness does not show up to the hearing, there will be a subpoena sent for them. The witness may face consequences. They may also send for a material witness warrant, where if it was deemed a witness was critical to the case, a judge will issue a warrant for a person to be picked up and physically brought to court to testify.

What Happens When Police Arrive After a Domestic Violence Call?

Once the police arrive, the protocol is to take the parties and separate them. The police will then make observations, interviewing the parties as well as take statements. Finally, they will decide on whether to lay charges. The decision of whether to lay charges or not is up to police discretion on the scene. They must lay charges if there is reasonable suspicion that an assault happened. Anything that raises reasonable suspicion such as bodily harm or the presence of a weapon may result in a charge being laid.

If the police are unsure of whether to lay charges, they will lay charges and let the court decide. Domestic violence situations are often unique in each case and complicated. Couples may want to get back together; spouses may not cooperate with the police on behalf of the accused. Regardless of the complainant’s input, if there is reasonable suspicion that an assault happened, the police will lay a charge.

What if the “Weapon” Was Just a Regular Item?

The weapon can be any item, even regular and unconventional items. An ordinary object, like a book or even a phone, can be classified as a weapon in the eyes of the court. An assault with a weapon charge can result from an assault with an unconventional weapon. However, if a conventional weapon was used, like a gun or knife, that may be seen as an aggravating factor, and the case may be dealt with more harshly.

If the assault caused bodily harm or threatened the life of the complainant, this will be deemed an aggravating factor as well. Even in situations of self-defence, the use of a weapon cannot exceed the amount of force that is necessary and sufficient enough to repel the attack. This means that if you shoot an intruder in self-defence or defence of property, you may be charged with assault with a weapon or another offence. Any self-defence assertion must be proved in trial and court. Assault is a serious and violent crime that often involves victims, the presence of weapon exacerbates the situation and can escalate the matter further.

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Recent Cases

R. v. Khesro-Mohamed-Rasheed, 2023 ONCJ 88

In the Ontario Court of Justice case of R. v. Khesro-Mohamed-Rasheed, the accused and his friend, Sulyman, was in Sulyman’s apartment with a woman. The hours were early, and they had a joint and a few shots of tequila. The two men got in an altercation concerning the woman’s presence on Sulyman’s bed. Rasheed struck Sulyman multiple times, and Sulyman suffered a swollen eye, fractured nose, a chipped tooth, along with multiple cuts on his face. Sulyman’s quality of life was severely impacted by his injuries, and so Rasheed was charged with assault causing bodily harm.

When considering the testimonies of the parties, the Court considered their credibility and reliability. Credibility and reliability are two standards by which Courts judge a witness’ testimony. The account by Sulyman was found to be credible, while Rasheed’s story had too many inconsistencies. Rasheed also raised the defence of self-defence, as his assault was in retaliation to a slap by Sulyman. However, Sulyman’s account of the slap was that the slap was disciplinary in their culture, and the Court found that the continuation of the beating in response to a slap to be unproportional and unreasonable. The accused was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm.

R. v. J.P., 2018 ONSC 7481

In the Ontario Superior Court case of R. v. J.P., the accused pled guilty to three counts of assault and two counts of sexual assault against his ex-intimate partner. The accused was Indigenous, and in the decision, the Court considered the Gladue report in contextualizing the crime. The court also considered several aggravating and mitigating factors of the case. The complainant had also filed a Victim Impact Statement that described her suffering physically and emotionally.

Some of the mitigating circumstances include: the accused’s young age and lack of prior criminal record, the guilty plea, and sincere remorse, family support, and employment. However, a major aggravating factor was the abuse of a spouse or intimate partner. The offender was sentenced to a total incarceration period of 20 months, along with the order for DNA forensic analysis and a weapons prohibition. The accused also must pay the complainant $6240 as restitution.

R. v. Nelson, 2022 ONCJ 634

In the Ontario Court of Justice case of R. v. Nelson, the defendant was charged with assault causing bodily harm. The accused had struck the complainant in the face twice, and she fell back onto the ground, unconscious. After assisting complainant, the accused quickly left the scene. The injuries the complainant suffered were a fractured jaw, a broken tooth, and associated bumps and bruises. The injuries were sufficient to be considered as “bodily harm”, as the complainant suffered emotionally, physically, and financially as a result of the attack.

In considering the appropriate sentence for the offender, the Court kept in mind that the defendant was a refugee claimant from Jamaica. This was the defendant’s first offence, and the Court had no goals of deporting Mr. Nelson. However, the ultimate sentence of 12 months imprisonment will result in the defendant’s deportation from Canada. This was, in the judge’s opinion, the most adequate sentence to address both aggravating and mitigating factors in the case. The nature of the assault and the injuries were extreme.

About the Author

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Jordan Donich

Jordan Donich has been a Lawyer for over 10 years and is a trusted legal analyst by Canadian Media. He is as a leader in Canada’s tech sector for lawyers and developer of Law Newbie. Jordan is a Black Belt with the Japan Karate Association and trained in Krav Maga. He won a Gold Medal at 2004 Canadian National Championships and was published in the National Newspaper Awards.

Jordan has been featured in Forbes and is a member of DMZ Angels in Toronto.