Assault Defence Lawyer in Ottawa
An assault is a criminal offence in which a person applies or threatens to apply force to another person without that person’s consent. The severity of an assault depends on a number of factors, including the degree of harm and injury caused to the victim, and whether a weapon or imitation weapon was involved.
The amount of force and injury caused will determine the type of assault harmed: from the lesser amounts of force and injury being a simple assault, to events that cause longer-lasting injuries being aggravated assault.
Being found guilty of an assault can have serious consequences. In addition to the stigma associated with a criminal record, your fingerprints will be in police files, your DNA may be on the police databank and there may be potential consequences for your work, family, reputation, and freedom.
Types of Assault
Section 265 onward of the Criminal Code of Canada defines an assault and distinguishes between types of assaults based on the surrounding circumstances, and the injuries caused to the victim.
Section 266 of the Criminal Code deals with general assaults. These are less severe: the consequences to the victim are not long lasting and are not done with a weapon or for sexual gratification. It is essential that the Crown show that the force used against the victim was intentional: an assault cannot be accidental or as a force of reflex. As well, if the victim consented to the use of force, there can be no assault.
Section 268 of the Criminal Code deals with aggravated assault. If the victim is maimed, wounded, or disfigured, the assault will be elevated to an aggravated assault. Maiming means to disable a person so that he or she is less capable of self-defence. Wounding means that skin was broken and the victim bled. Disfiguring means harming someone so that the or she is less physically attractive.
Assault causing bodily harm
Section 267(b) of the Criminal Code deals with assault causing bodily harm. If an injury to a victim is more than transient or trifling in nature, the charge will be an assault causing bodily harm. The terms transient and trifling mean that the injury must cause more than a very minor degree of distress and must last longer than a very brief amount of time.
Assault with a weapon
Section 267(a) of the Criminal Code deals with assault with a weapon. Anyone who commits an assault while carrying, using, or threatening to use a weapon may be charged with assault with a weapon. A weapon may be a knife or firearm, a replica or toy that resembles a knife or firearm, or any object used to commit an assault. For example, a car door, a baseball bat, and a coffee cup may all be considered a weapon if they are used to use force or threatened to cause an injury.
Assaulting a peace officer or assaulting police
Section 270 of the Criminal Code deals with assaulting police officers. Anyone who assaults an individual who is a police officer, knowing that the person is a police officer, is liable for assaulting a police officer. The officer must either be uniformed, or the individual who committed the assault must know they are using force against an officer. Without knowledge that the person was a police officer, the offence cannot be proven.
Assault to resist arrest
Section 270 of the Criminal Code deals with assaulting an individual who is trying to arrest the accused. The offence will not stand if the police are not making a valid arrest.
If an assault is committed in the context of a relationship, the assault will be flagged as a domestic assault. Although they encompass the same types of assaults, they are treated differently by the Ottawa courts because of the trust factor that develops in relationships. In addition, when an individual is charged with a domestic assault, they must abide by conditions that they not contact their partner, their spouse, and sometimes even their children.
Céline understands that people charged with domestic assaults have had their lives turned upside down and helps them reunite with their family through variation hearings on a regular basis.
If an assault is committed with a sexual connotation, such as sex, or touching someone’s genital area or breasts, an individual will be charged with sexual assault.
There are many valid defences that can be used when someone is charged with assault.
Before any conviction can occur, the Crown must prove the charge. The Crown must prove that force was applied without consent, and they must show the consequences of the force. If there was no force or real threat of force, then there can be no assault.
Sometimes, a complainant can consent to being assaulted. For example, if two adults decide to fight outside of a bar, or if someone is hurt playing hockey, they have consented to an assault. If the assault was consensual, then no criminal offence was committed.
If someone is assaulting you, you can always fight back to defend yourself. Self-defence is one of the most common defences used in assault charges. In cases of self-defence, the court’s role is to determine if the amount of force used was reasonable.
Consequences of being convicted
Being charged with assault can be very intimidating and it is common for those charged to wonder if they are facing incarceration.
The Crown often asks judges to consider jail sentences for every type of assault, not only to punish the accused, but to deter others from engaging in similar behaviours. The Criminal Code offers other sentencing principles that must be considered, such as rehabilitation and sentencing proportionate to the nature of the offence.
For a relatively minor offence, and especially if you do not have a criminal record, the court may be more inclined to forgo a jail sentence and offer a discharge.