The offence of assault is committed any time one person intentionally applies force to another person without consent. It covers everything from a shove to a vicious stabbing. An assault can occur between friends, family members, spouses, and strangers, and is one of the most frequently laid charges under the Criminal Code.
Definition of Assault
Section 265 of the Criminal Code states that an assault is committed when a person:
- applies force intentionally to another person, directly or indirectly, without the consent of the other person
- attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, and either has the ability to carry out the attempted or threatened act or causes the other person to believe that he or she has the ability; or
- accosts or impedes another person or begs while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or imitation thereof
Assaults are generally prosecuted under Section 266 of the Criminal Code if they do not cause serious injury and do not involve the use of a weapon. Sometimes an assault under Section 266 of the Criminal Code is referred to as a “simple assault” or “assault simpliciter”.
The maximum sentence for assault is 6 months if the offence is prosecuted summarily and 5 years if prosecuted by indictment.
Assault with a Weapon
An assault is prosecuted as “assault with a weapon” contrary to Section 267 of the Criminal Code if an object is used as a weapon in the commission of the assault. A “weapon” is defined in the Criminal Code as any thing used, designed to be used, or intended for use in causing death or injury to any person.” By that definition, practically anything can qualify as a weapon if it is used with the intention of hurting someone. A weapon can therefore include the obvious (guns and knives) and the less obvious (hockey sticks and baseball bats).
The maximum sentence for assault with a weapon is 18 months if the offence is prosecuted summarily and 10 years if prosecuted by indictment.
Assault Causing Bodily
If an assault causes “bodily harm”, it is prosecuted as “assault causing bodily harm” contrary to Section 267 of the Criminal Code. The term “bodily harm” is defined broadly as “any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the health or comfort of the person and that is more than merely transient or trifling in nature.” Courts have held that injuries as minor as heavy bruising can qualify as bodily harm.
The maximum sentence for assault causing bodily harm is 18 months if the offence is prosecuted summarily and 10 years if prosecuted by indictment.
If an assault wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the victim, it is prosecuted as an aggravated assault under Section 268 of the Criminal Code. Typically an aggravated assault occurs where someone is shot, stabbed or severely beaten.
The maximum sentence for aggravated assault is 14 years in jail.
Contact N.J. Preovolos Law Corporation
It is not something to be dismissed or treated lightly. If you have been charged with assault or a related offence such as assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon or aggravated assault, our Vancouver assault lawyers can help you.