In Canada, assault is a serious offence. When facing one or more assault charges, you could geta criminal record, face a substantial amount of jail time, or even a sex offender registration, depending on the case.

That’s why when anyone is charged, whether it’s for a form of assault or another criminal offence, the first thing to do is seek legal advice immediately.

Criminal defence lawyers develop their expertise after having experienced hundreds of similar scenarios, including everything from misunderstandings to impulsive behaviour leading to criminal activity. As such, they know the best ways to argue your case in a way that is most beneficial to you, possibly reducing your sentence or eliminating it altogether.

A Sicotte & Sandhu criminal defence lawyer will review your criminal charges and strategize for the best defence while building your case. There are a few things you need to know about what happens when you charge someone with assault.

person in handcuffs

When the Police Arrest You

In British Columbia, it’s the police who arrest individuals, but only Crown Counsel can lay charges. For summary convictions, there is a six-month time limit to press assault charges. There is no time limit for an indictable offence. Crown Counsel will decide which criminal procedure to pursue.

When being arrested, the police must inform you of the reasons for your arrest  and read you your rights. They may take you to the police station, to take your photographs and fingerprints, and potentially hold you for a bail hearing.Sometimes, the police will release someone from the scene after they are arrested, or from the police station if they believe they are not a threat or a flight risk. The offender must then wait for their trial date.

If the police hold the offender in their custody, the offender will have a bail hearing the next day. This is where a judge or a justice of the peace  decides if the offender should be released:

  • If the offender is released, the justice usually sets out some conditions, such as not drinking and taking drugs or avoiding contact with the victim. Breaking the conditions will result in another arrest.
  • If the offender is held in custody, they will be moved to a local detention centre until their trial, which is usually several months away.

Find out more about how Sicotte & Sandhu can help you beat an assault charge in Canada.

What is Assault?

Assault is a forceful and intentional act committed against another person without their consent. This act can be committed indirectly or directly to another person. But as many people don’t know, assault isn’t restricted to physical harm.

Canada’s Criminal Code provides other instances. Assault also consists of threatening acts and gestures meant to force someone into doing something. Whether the victim had a reasonable and credible belief that the offender would inflict harm on them or not is irrelevant – threatening acts still constitute assault. The legitimacy of the threat does not define the act of assault.

Assault can also occur when a person openly wears or carries a weapon. It doesn’t have to be real, as an imitation is much like the threats mentioned above. If the victim thinks it’s real, it falls under the category of assault. If the weapon is used to physically harm or prevent an individual from doing something, this is also considered assault.

Additionally, assault charges come in various forms, so be sure you ask which form you’re being charged. Some of them carry severe penalties when treated as an indictable offence. Charges can also be treated as a summary conviction with milder consequences.

person standing in front of man sitting on floor

Simple Assault

There were no weapons involved, and the victim sustained little to no injury.

  • Summary Conviction: Six months of jail time and/or a $5,000 fine
  • Indictment: Up to five years of jail time

Assault Causing Bodily Harm

The victim sustains mild to severe physical injuries without the use of a weapon.

  • Summary Conviction: Up to 18 months of jail time
  • Indictment: Up to 10 years of jail time

Assault with a Weapon

This type of assault charge is a combination of other forms of assault with the presence of a weapon. The factors surrounding the case determine whether the charge will be treated as a summary conviction or indictable offence.

Weapons can be classified as any item that is used with force.

  • Summary Conviction: Up to 18 months of jail time
  • Indictment: Up to 10 years of jail time

Aggravated Assault

Due to the severity of this charge, it is only ever treated as an indictable offence. To be charged with this type of assault, the victim sustains wounding, maiming, disfigurement, or endangerment.

  • Indictment: Up to 14 years of jail time

Sexual Assault

Acts that involve non-consensual sexual touching or violent acts in a sexual context fall under sexual assault. Sexual assault comes in several forms, including aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon. It can include a wide range of scenarios, even when both parties are wearing their clothes.

  • Summary Conviction: Up to 18 months of imprisonment; Up to 2 years minus a day of imprisonment if the defendant is under 16 years old
  • Indictment: Up to 10 years of imprisonment; Up to 14 years of imprisonment if the defendant is under 16 years old.

Domestic Assault

Violence or the threat of violence between individuals in the same household, whether family members or intimate partners, is domestic assault.

  • Penalties depend on the situation but are usually severe when assault is committed against an intimate partner.

man in suit holding documents under arm

Can an Assault Charge Get Dropped?

Yes, there is the possibility of having the charge dropped with the help of an assault lawyer. The Crown counsel has the power to withdraw the charges, not the (alleged) victim. Read more here: Can Someone Drop Assault Charges?

Get Top Legal Advice from Our Law Firm

When you need protection against being charged for a criminal offence, your first thought should be to all Sicotte & Sandhu. Our team is ready to assist, from building your case to acting as an intermediary when questioned to standing up for you in court.

Avoid a criminal record by calling us today for a free consultation.