The Crown considers assault a serious offence. It is one that carries heavy penalties, which could include a criminal record, or in some cases, a jail sentence. The consequences of an assault charge also spill over to your personal life, affecting you mentally, financially, and emotionally.
If you or someone you know has been charged with assault, it would be helpful to seek legal counsel. Having a criminal defence lawyer like Mr. Melville on your side could help you present a strong defence to your matter to get you acquitted or reduce your sentence.
What Constitutes Assault In BC?
The Criminal Code of Canada mentions the following scenarios that would count as assault in a court of law.
First, one can be charged with assault if he or she applies force on an unconsenting individual. Also, the accused may have used force directly or indirectly to cause bodily harm. There has to be intent, so accidentally harming a person may or may not be considered assault.
In some cases, no bodily harm needs to occur for a charge of assault. The second definition of assault in the Criminal Code of Canada explains that a threat to apply force on an unconsenting individual also constitutes assault.
This is especially true if the gesture or verbal threat causes the other person to think that the accused can act on it.
The Different Types Of Assault
Not all cases of assault are tried similarly by the Crown. The severity and nature of the assault can help the Crown determine the type of assault.
There are cases when someone accuses another person of assault without being severely harmed. These assault cases are cases of “simple assault”. A simple assault does not cause serious physical injury nor does it involve the use of a weapon.
Simple assault is a summary offence. Hence, if accused, you may have to pay a fine, serve no more than six months in jail, or both.
Simple assault is less serious compared to the other, more serious types of assault:
Assault Causing Bodily Harm
This occurs when one person causes another person injury through his exercise of force. The severity of bodily harm is broadly defined in Section 267 of the Criminal Code. For example, a complainant can use a minor bruise as evidence of bodily harm.
This means that you could be charged with assault that inflicts bodily harm even for a minor injury.
Prosecuted summarily, assault causing bodily harm warrants jail time of five months. However, this is also classified by the Criminal Code as an indictable offence. Indictable assault cases in Canada carry serious penalties.
Often, those convicted could face up to 10 years in jail if prosecuted by indictment.
Assault With A Weapon
This type of assault is committed with a weapon.
Section 270(2) of the Criminal Code has a broad definition of what a weapon is. Essentially, it is defined as anything that is used to cause bodily harm or threaten a person. With this definition, practically anything can be considered a weapon.
Like assault causing bodily harm, this is a serious offence. If you are accused and tried in a summary court, you may be sentenced to about 18 months in jail. If proceeding by indictment, you could face up to 10 years in prison.
You could be charged with aggravated assault if you were accused of inflicting serious injury through the following:
- Severe beating
As an indictable offence, aggravated assault is punishable by up to 14 years in jail in Canada.
I went from looking at 3-5 years and got out within 3 months of the day I was incarcerated. He was always respectful to my family and me.
– N.L., Google Review
How Can A Criminal Defence Lawyer Help With Your Case?
Once a criminal defence lawyer takes your case, he or she can challenge certain elements of the charges against you. Proving reasonable doubt and the absence of intent or knowledge, a criminal defence lawyer can help you in the following ways:
You may be innocent. However, proving this on your own will be an uphill battle before the Crown.
A criminal defence lawyer could prove:
- Mistaken identity
- False accusations
Proving Your Lack Of Intent
An important element in an assault is the presence of an intention to commit the act. The subjective nature of intent makes its presence or absence difficult to prove in a court of law in Canada- if you attempt this on your own.
With an experienced criminal defence lawyer, this is possible. With one (or many) of the elements of assault disproven by your lawyer, you may find yourself exonerated and acquitted of the charges.
What if you were left with no alternative but to subdue an assailant? On your own, proving this before the crown can be challenging especially if your complainant has signs of injury.
An experienced criminal defence lawyer like Mr. Dale Melville can help you with this.
Pleading to Lesser Charges
A charge of aggravated assault or assault causing bodily harm is a serious charge that carries heavy penalties. Your criminal defence lawyer could help persuade the crown to see your case as a simple assault. As a result, your sentence may be reduced.
Your lawyer could use proof such as the absence of signs of lasting physical injury.
Negotiating Alternative Measures
The circumstances behind every assault case are different. For example, offenders may be repeat offenders or first-time offenders. First-time offenders likely do not have criminal records. As well, an offender may be a minor or an immigrant.
For cases like these, criminal defence lawyers can negotiate for the use of alternative measures as punishment instead of jail time.
For example, a first-time offender who takes responsibility for simple assault charges may negotiate alternative measures with the Crown. With no prior criminal record, the accused may be eligible for alternative means of punishment instead of a fine or jail.
To achieve this, an offender may have to prove that he or she is not a risk to the community. This is where the counsel and persuasive powers of a criminal defence lawyer can help.
Dale Melville Law- Your Solution For Any Charge Of Assault In Port Coquitlam or Surrey
You may represent yourself before the Crown. However, everyone, from the prosecution to the police, is working against you.
You ought to retain counsel to work towards a favourable outcome. If you or anyone you know has been charged or accused of assault, call Dale Melville Law immediately to speak to an experienced assault lawyer at our office in Port Coquitlam or Surrey.