How do Canadian Courts define assault? If you or a loved one faces an assault charge, what is the best way to respond? When might the use of physical force be justified?

The Milton criminal courthouse is located at 491 Steeles Ave E., Milton ON L9T 1Y7. To contact someone regarding Criminal Youth cases at the Ontario Court of Justice call905-878-4165.To contact someone regarding criminal cases heard by the Superior Court of Justice, call 905-878-4165. To contact someone regarding Criminal cases at the Ontario Court of Justice, call 905-878-4165.

Milton Courthouse office hours are generally Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Looking for information about your upcoming court appearance in Milton? Access daily court lists here.

The Halton Police publishes statistics for Halton Hills and Milton. In 2015, there were 438 recorded incidences of assault. In 2016, there were 498 recorded incidences of assault. This indicates there was a 13.7% increase in the number of recorded assaults in Halton Hills and Milton from 2015 to 2016.

The firm has successfully handled a number of assault cases. To learn more about these cases, please click here.

Milton crown prosecutors have a lot of discretion in how it chooses to handle assault charges, from the procedure they use to the specific charges they lay to the punishment they seek. As such, it is important to have an experienced Criminal Lawyer who knows the process and your options well on your side.

If you needed to use physical force in self-defence and assault or similar charges have been lain against you, retaining an Ontario Criminal Lawyer will be particularly important. Arguing that you acted to protect yourself will require you to disclose some information to the prosecution, which is extremely without the full procedural and technical knowledge of a criminal lawyer underlying your decision.

Assault in Defence of Person or Property

In order for the government to convict anyone of assault, they need to prove one of three things:

  • A person intentionally applies force to another person, either directly or indirectly, without their consent;
  • An act or gesture will constitute an assault if (1) a person’s uses such an act or gesture to attempt or threaten to apply force to another person and (2) if this causes the other person to believe on reasonable grounds that the alleged attacker has the present ability to effect his purpose; or
  • When a person accosts or impedes another person or begs, while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof.

The question of the other person’s consent is particularly important; there are many limits on an individual to consent in Canadian law (such as intoxication or the limit on consenting to non-trivial bodily harm).

There are several categories of defences in Canadian criminal law; Self-Defence is a defence of “justification”. Rather than a defence claiming that you did not commit a claim, or that you did not intend to commit a crime, justifications argue that while you did commit the acts that constitute the crime, it was not wrongful under the circumstances. A simple example is forcefully disarming an armed attacker who is running at you with a knife; while you may have assaulted your assailant, society passes a very different judgment than if you had initiated the fight.

The question of who has to prove self-defence is complicated, but if you want to put the defence forward, you have to show the court that it is plausible you had acted in self-defence under the circumstances. Once you have demonstrated this “air of reality”, the crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not act in self-defence.

If the Crown cannot disprove self-defence following the demonstration of an “air of reality”, any action that would otherwise constitute a crime is yielded non-criminal—it is an “absolute defence”. It has three criteria:

  1. The accused believes on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person;
  2. The act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force; and
  3. The act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.

The last criteria, that the action be reasonable in the circumstances, takes into consideration the circumstances of the person, the parties, and the act. Section 34(2) sets out these factors, but acknowledges that they may not be the only relevant considerations:

  1. The nature of the force or threat;
  2. The extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force;
  3. The person’s role in the incident;
  4. Whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon;
  5. The size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the parties to the incident;
  6. The nature, duration and history of any relationship between the parties to the incident, including any prior use or threat of force and the nature of that force or threat;
  7. Any history of interaction or communication between the parties to the incident;
  8. The nature and proportionality of the person’s response to the use or threat of force; and,
  9. Whether the act committed was in response to a use or threat of force that the person knew was lawful.

Similar defences apply when the accused is acting to defend property, and the analysis above may be tweaked depending on the allegations against the accused (particularly, the degree of harm the accused caused).

Certain other conduct, such as assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, domestic assault, and sexual assault all fall under the umbrella of assault, and a conviction for any of these offences requires an assault to have occurred, along with an additional component.

A charge of assault can result in the imposition of a term of imprisonment of up to five years, but this is fairly unusual. Because of the range of conduct that “assault” can cover, sentences can vary widely. Lengthy sentences for assault-based offences tend to be grounded in more serious charges, such as assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (both carrying a maximum sentence of ten years) or aggravated assault (with penalties ranging up to fourteen years’ imprisonment).

Our firm’s experience with assault charges is wide-ranging. Our criminal law team ensured the withdrawal of all charges against the president of a Martial Arts Team during the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games in R. v. J.F. [2015] after he had been accused of Assault, as well as resolve the case of R v N.S. [2016], a client charged with assault causing bodily harm for kicking a 10-year-old in the groin at a Jay’s game, without a criminal record.

If you live in Milton and have been charged with assault or any other criminal offence in Canada, contact our firm at 416-DEFENCE, or at [email protected], for a consultation and to speak with one of our Milton Criminal lawyers.

416-DEFENCE | 416-333-3623