The offence of assault is outlined in section 265(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits assault when they intentionally apply force, or threaten to apply force, either directly or indirectly, to another person without that person’s consent.


Person A and person B get into a verbal argument and person A pushes person B.

Person A and person B are in an intimate relationship. During an argument, person B attempts to walk away. Person A grabs person B’s arm to stop them from doing so.


R. v. Edowen, [2021] ONSC 2157

In R. v. Edowen, the accused was charged with one count of simple assault after an argument with his former common law spouse became physical. The former spouse alleged that the accused had kicked her in the ankles in an attempt to sweep her off her feet and knock her to the ground. The accused was convicted at trial after the couple’s son gave evidence that his father kicked his mother during a heated argument.

R. v. Flores, [2021] ONCJ 51

In R. v. Flores, the accused was charged with four counts of simple assault after his family reported alleged abuse to law enforcement. The accused’s estranged wife called police after the accused attended her home uninvited and assaulted her during an argument. The wife reported that the accused had also assaulted her their two sons, leading to four assault charges being laid.

Offence Specific Defences

Self Defence or Defence of Another

An individual has the right to use force to protect themselves if necessary. If person B assaults or attempts to assault person A, person A is legally entitled to use force (i.e., commit an assault) against person B in self defence. Person B cannot use any more force than is necessary to stop person A’s assault. An individual may also use the force necessary to defend an attack on another person. This legal defence is outlined in section 34(1) of the Criminal Code.

Defence of Property

An individual has the right to use force to protect their property or to remove someone from their property. The force used must be reasonable and only what is necessary to expel the person from the property. If a person does not have a legal right to the property, they may not use force to remove another person. This legal defence is outlined in section 35(1) of the Criminal Code.

Reflex Action

Person A loses balance while walking down a flight of stairs and in an attempt to regain balance, reaches out and hits person B. Person A did not intend to hit Person B, instead their reflex action when falling caused them to make contact with person B.


An assault occurs when the recipient of physical force does not consent to the physical force. If the person being touched does consent to the touch, an assault has not occurred in certain circumstances. It is important to note that an individual cannot consent to bodily harm.

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