Assault in the Canadian criminal context can take on many forms. Any one of these charges could result in a lengthy jail sentence and a criminal record upon conviction.
In this article, we discuss what a possible sentence may be for someone convicted of any of these types of assault in Canada.
What is the penalty for assault in Ontario?
The penalty for assault in Ontario can range from a conditional discharge all the way up to a maximum sentence of fourteen years imprisonment.
The sentence imposed for the offence will depend upon the type/level of assault and the circumstances of the offence.
What are the three levels of assault?
There are three levels of assault in Canada. These are:
Level 1: Common Assault
Level 2: Assault With a Weapon / Causing Bodily Harm
Level 3: Aggravated Assault
We will explore each of these in more detail.
What is Simple Assault?
Simple assault is commonly referred to as “assault” and it is a common charge in Canada. Section 265 of the Criminal Code defines what the essential elements of the charge are.
This offence occurs when someone, without the consent of another person:
- applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
- attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
- while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.
When the Crown is able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that at least one of the above three circumstances has occurred, a person may be convicted of the offence.
How much time can a person get for common assault?
You can get a jail sentence upon conviction of this offence. If the Crown proceeds by way of indictment (more serious) then the maximum jail sentence you can get is 5 years imprisonment. If the Crown proceeds by way of summary (less serious), the maximum penalty you can get is 6 months in jail. It would be exceedingly rare for the Crown to proceed by way of indictment for simple assault, so the likely maximum penalty you would be looking at is 6 months imprisonment.
However, that being said, many assault charges can be resolved for little to no jail sentence at all, depending on the circumstances. To read about the potential sentencing for domestic assault charges, read this blog by Toronto Defence Lawyers.
What is Assault Causing Bodily Harm?
This type of assault occurs when the consequences of the unwanted physical contact result in injuries that interfere with the health and comfort of the victim. These would be more serious injuries like fractures, severe bruising, cuts, etc., even if the injuries heal quickly.
Assault Causing Bodily Harm Potential Jail Sentence
Yes, you can get a jail sentence upon conviction of assault causing bodily harm in Canada. If the Crown proceeds by way of incitement, the maximum jail sentence you can get is 10 years in jail. If the Crown proceeds by way of summary, the maximum jail sentence is 18 months. Depending on the circumstances, the injuries sustained and the vulnerability of the victim, the Crown will determine if it is a case where they need to proceed by indictment or not.
What is Assault with a Weapon?
This charge occurs when you intentionally use an object to exert physical force on another person. Weapons could be items like a knife, baseball bat, hammer, beer bottle – anything that you use intending to harm another person. You can be charged with this offence if you carry, use, or threaten to use a weapon during an assault.
Can I get Jail Time if I am Convicted of Assault with a Weapon?
Yes, you can get a jail sentence upon conviction of this type of assault in Canada. If the Crown proceeds by way of incitement, the maximum jail sentence you can get is 10 years in jail. If the Crown proceeds by way of summary, the maximum jail sentence is 18 months in jail. Depending on the circumstances of the assault, the weapon used, carried or threatened to be used, the injuries sustained and the vulnerability of the victim, the Crown will determine if it is a case where they need to proceed by indictment or not.
What is Aggravated Assault?
This is the most serious form of assault in Canada. This charge is used when the victim is seriously injured – wounded, maimed, disfigured or suffered life-threatening injuries. This charge has been expanded to specifically include anyone who commits an act of female genital mutilation.
Can I get Jail time if I am Convicted of Aggravated Assault?
Yes. This is a serious offence, and if charged, the Crown has no choice but to proceed by way of indictment. This charge carries a maximum jail sentence of fourteen years. It is very likely that someone convicted of this type of assault will spend a period of time in prison.
What is Sexual Assault?
A sexual assault in Canada is an assault that is committed in circumstances of a sexual nature. The definition is vague in order to capture a broad range of behaviour. What is central to the charge is that the sexual integrity of the victim was violated, and is not contingent on a certain body part being touched.
These types of charges can range from slapping someone on the buttocks to forced intercourse. You can be charged even if the person accusing you is your husband or wife. It can occur regardless of the gender of the victim or the accused.
Can I get a Jail Sentence if I am Convicted of Sexual Assault?
Yes. If the Crown proceeds by way of indictment and upon conviction, you can be sentenced to jail for a maximum of 10 years. If the victim is under the age of 16, then the maximum sentence is 14 years in jail and the minimum sentence is 1 year in jail.
If the Crown proceeds by way of summary, you can be sentenced to a maximum jail sentence of 18 months. If the victim is under the age of 16, the maximum jail sentence is 2 years less a day. The minimum sentence is 6 months in jail.
What is Sexual Assault involving a Weapon / Causing Bodily Harm?
In committing an assault that is sexual in nature you do one of the following:
- You have a weapon with you, threaten to use a weapon or use a weapon,
- Cause harm to the body of the victim
- Commit the offence with another person
Any of these circumstances would result in the charge of assault in Canada.
Can I get a Jail Sentence if I am Convicted of Sexual Assault with a Weapon or Causing Bodily Harm?
Yes. This offence is an indictable offence with a maximum jail sentence of 14 years imprisonment. If a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, there is a minimum jail sentence of 4 years. If the victim is under 16 years of age, the minimum jail sentence is 5 years.
What is Aggravated Sexual Assault and is there a jail sentence upon conviction?
An aggravated sexual assault occurs when in the commission of an assault, the victim is wounded, maimed, disfigured or has his or her life endangered.
This is an indictable offence, with a maximum jail sentence of life imprisonment. If a firearm is used in the commission of the offence or the victim is under the age of 16, there is a minimum jail sentence of 5 years.
Additional Aggravating Factors for Sentencing
There are several factors which may make change a standard charge into an aggravated charge:
- An assault that occurs in a domestic relationship will be considered more serious than the same incident between friends.
- Offences committed against peace officers (police officer), although an offence against a police officer has the same maximum sentence of fourteen years.
- Offences committed against a transit operator
What Should I Do If I Am Facing A Criminal Charge?
If you are facing a criminal charge, the best thing you can do is immediately retain defence counsel. A criminal record can have devastating consequences on your life. At Pyzer Criminal Law, we have the experience to defend your rights and obtain the best possible outcome in your case.