Assault Causing Bodily Harm

Assault Causing Bodily Harm

The offence of assault causing bodily harm is outlined in section 267(1)(b) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits assault causing bodily harm when they apply force to another person, intentionally or unintentionally, without the person’s consent, and the application of force results in bodily injury. Bodily injury may include cuts, bruises, broken bones or more serious injuries.


Person A and person B get into a verbal argument and person A strikes person B with their purse. Person B is left with a deep cut on their forehead.

Person A and person B are in an intimate relationship. During an argument, person A hits person B in the face causing a broken nose.


R. v. Tranter, [2022] ONCJ 51

In R. v. Tranter, the accused, a police officer, was charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm after assaulting a suspect in his custody. After the complainant was arrested, he became involved in an altercation with the officer, at which time the officer struck the complainant multiple times in the head and upper body. The assault caused a fracture to the complainant’s nose and right occipital bone.

R. v. King-Norris, [2021] ONCJ 682

In R. v. King-Norris, the accused was charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm after becoming involved in a physical fight during a hockey game. The offender punched the complainant once in the face causing the complainant to fall on the ice. The punch to the face broke the complainant’s jaw, requiring surgery to repair.

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 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 with their bag. Person A did not intend to hit Person B with the bag, instead their reflex action when falling caused them to make contact with person B.

No Bodily Harm

To gain a conviction for assault causing bodily harm, the Crown must prove that the complainant suffered bodily harm. Bodily harm can include bruising, cuts, scrapes, swelling pr pain. If the complainant did not suffer any injuries as a result of the assault, the accused cannot be convicted of assault causing bodily harm.

For example, person A pushes person B during an argument. Person B stumbles backwards but does not fall. Person B suffers no pain or other injury as a result of the assault. Person A is guilty of simple assault but not assault causing bodily harm.

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