Assault with a weapon is a broad type of assault. It occurs when a person carries, uses, or threatens to use a weapon or any object that can be used as a weapon in the course of committing an assault. Importantly, the victim does not need to be physically touched by the weapon for an assault with weapon charge to be laid.
Should you encounter charges related to this offence, the guidance of a skilled assault lawyer can be invaluable in shielding you from an unjustifiable conviction.
Assault with a Weapon in the Criminal Code
Under section 267 of the Criminal Code, assault with a weapon occurs when someone, in committing an assault, carries, uses, or threatens to use a weapon or an imitation of a weapon. The Crown must therefore prove beyond a reasonable doubt all the elements of a simple assault and the use, or threat of use, of a weapon while committing the assault.
What is Considered a Weapon?
A weapon does not need to be commonly thought of as items such as a gun or another firearm, a knife, or a bat. A weapon can include anything that can be used to (a) cause death, (c) cause injury, (c) threaten, or (d) intimidate another person. For example, if you got into a fight with another person at a bar and used a beer bottle to injure the other party, the beer bottle can constitute a weapon. As a result, an assault with a weapon charge can be made against you.
What Must the Crown Prove for a Conviction?
The Crown must prove two key elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Elements of a simple assault
- (a) The intentional application of force, directly or indirectly, (b) without the other person’s consent
- The accused committed the assault using a weapon
- A weapon is understood broadly
An experienced lawyer can help raise doubt in the Crown’s arguments. Your charge can also be reduced to simple assault if the weapon’s use in question could be challenged.
What Are the Penalties for an Assault With a Weapon Charge?
The charge of assault with a weapon has serious consequences. As a hybrid offence, the Crown prosecutor can decide whether to proceed as a summary conviction or an indictable offence. A summary conviction is less severe, resulting in a maximum imprisonment of up to 18 months. If the Crown proceeds with an indictable offence, the penalty is more severe with up to 10 years in prison.
If this is your first offence, the judge may be more lenient with your sentencing. However, if this is a second or repeat offence, the judge will likely opt for a more severe sentencing.
What Are the Defences for Assault with a Weapon Charge?
One of the most common defences to assault charges is self-defence. If you were protecting yourself or someone else, this defence will be available to you. A successful self-defence argument will illustrate 3 key elements: (1) reasonable grounds existed that led you to believe that you or another person were at risk of force or the threat of force, (2) you acted for the purpose of defending or protecting yourself or the other person, and (3) your actions were reasonable in the circumstances.
One of the elements the Crown must prove is that the other party did not consent to the assault. It is possible that the other party may have consented to the applied force, and in turn, an assault did not take place. For example, if you and the other party both consented to enter into a fight at a bar, then the defence of consent is available. If, however, you entered into the fight with the intention to cause bodily harm to the other party, then the party could not have consented. Under current law, a person cannot consent if you intended to cause them bodily harm. As such, the defence of consent is more difficult to make in cases involving a weapon.
Defence of Property
Similar to the defence of self-defence, if the action was done in the course of defending one’s property, the defence of property can be used. In order to demonstrate you were defending your property, the defence must prove four elements:
- You had reasonable grounds to believe that you were in the peaceful possession of property or were acting under the authority of another person who has reasonable grounds to believe they were in the peaceful possession of the property;
- You reasonably believe that someone has or was going to enter, take or about to take, or damage or destroy your property without the authority to;
- Your actions were for the purpose of preventing that person from doing any of the actions listed above; and
- The act you committed was reasonable given the circumstances.
The final defence available is factual innocence; in other words, the Crown was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you have committed the crime. If reasonable doubt has been raised based on the facts of the case, you will be acquitted. As your defence lawyer, we will raise all the facts that point to doubt within each of the elements of the offence.
Contact an Experienced Assault Lawyer Today
When delving into the realm of Assault With a Weapon, it is crucial to understand the broader context of different types of assault charges. This article aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of Assault With a Weapon, including its definition, specific charges associated with it, potential penalties, and available defences. By examining these aspects, we can gain a deeper understanding of the legal complexities surrounding this offence and equip ourselves with the knowledge needed to navigate such cases effectively.
At Pyzer Criminal Lawyers, we have won some of the toughest assault cases in Toronto. An experienced assault lawyer can help you achieve the best possible outcome and protect your reputation! Contact us today at (416) 658-1818 to begin building the best defence for your case.