Assault is a serious criminal offence as defined by Section 265 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Assault is considered the application of force, either directly or indirectly, against another person, who has not consented to the force. The force does not have to cause injury to be considered assault. In addition, the uttering of threats to inflect bodily harm, injury, or death is an assault charge. Those facing assault charges, depending on the actual circumstance of the case, could receive as part of their penalty imprisonment.
The Crown has to review the circumstances surrounding assault criminal offences to determine exactly what charges to bring against the accused. There are two unique types of assaults: domestic assaults and sexual assaults which the Crown defines under the guidelines for assault, but are handled differently because they carry additional penalties if you are found guilty.
Assault Criminal Offences
When someone is charged with non-domestic and non-sexual assault, there are several different types of offences one might be facing, such as:
- Assault with a Weapon: Using a firearm, weapon, replica, or other object used in conjunction with the assault. The weapon could even be a piece of clothing, like if a hoodie was placed tied the victim’s arms to restrain them.
- Assault Causing Bodily Harm: Inflicting injury to another during the assault. The injury does not have to be serious and could be as minor as a small bruise or a scratch.
- Aggravated Assault: Inflicting injury to another with the intention to maim, harm, disfigure or kill the victim and is used by the Crown in place of assault causing bodily harm for more serious injuries and in cases where the defendant intended on causing injury to the victim.
- Uttering Threats: Verbally threatening another, their property, or their pets and causing fear in the victim. The Crown can charge someone with both uttering threats and assault, should the defendant follow through on their threats.
Domestic Assault Criminal Offences
Domestic assault criminal offences are identical to those covered under non-domestic and non-sexual assaults. The key difference is the assault is carried out by the defendant against someone they have or had a relationship with at some point. This includes spouses, partners, girlfriends, boyfriends, parents, siblings, children, and other people with a close relationship to the defendant.
It is not unheard where a couple gets into an argument and one person pushes, slaps, or shoves the other and the “victim” files domestic assault charges because of emotional reasons, only to later want to withdraw their complaint. However, once charges have been filed and the Crown formally decides to prosecute the defendant, the complainant is unable to request the charges be dismissed.
Sexual Assault Criminal Offences
Sexual assault criminal offenses also follow the same definitions as non-domestic and non-sexual assaults with one primary difference: The indirect or direct force applied was sexual in nature. Sexual assault does not have to involve the actual act of sex. Touching someone’s body in private areas, or using a part of their body in a sexual manner without their consent is considered sexual assault.
Why Is Consent Vital to Assault Offences?
Consent is the agreement between two people where it is understood the force to be applied, either directly or indirectly by one to the other is mutually acceptable. Consent is not ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time by either person. If there was consent between both people, then there is not necessarily assault. However, if there is no consent, even in cases where one person assumes there is implied consent, they could be charged with criminal assault offence.