What Is the Difference Between Assault Offences?

There are three distinct types of assault offences as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada which includes:

  1. Assault
  2. Sexual Assault
  3. Domestic Assault

Each one has specific definitions as related to the offence and the type of charges which one could face. It is important to understand the differences between the three, as well as realize there are several different sub-types of assault offences categorized under each one.

Criminal Assault

This is the generalized type of assault used in cases where a person committed the offence for non-sexual and non-domestic assaults. The key factor used to determine whether an assault was committed was whether there was either a direct or indirect force used against the victim without their consent.

For instance, grabbing someone’s arm and applying pressure could be considered a direct force used against the individual. On the other hand, hitting or poking someone with an object, like a hockey stick, could be viewed as an indirect force.

The sub-types of assault offences are used in specific cases when certain actions or outcomes occur as result of the assault. These could include uttering threats, aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm, and assault with a weapon.

In some cases, an individual could be charged with multiple assault type offences. To illustrate someone threatens another individual they are going to cause them harm in some manner either using direct or indirect force.

If they do not follow through, they could be charged with uttering threats. However, if they carry out the threat, they could be charged with both uttering threats and an assault offence, based on if they used a weapon and the types of injuries the victim sustained.

Sexual Assault

With sexual assault offences, there is the added element of a sexual nature regarding the type of force used against the victim. It is worth noting that the law does not have an actual criminal offence for rape, and rapes are considered sexual assaults.

In addition, one does not have to engage in the actual act of sex to be charged with this offence. Simply touching someone in a sexual manner without their consent could be sufficient grounds to be charged with this crime.

Domestic Assault

The key element of this type of assault is when it is committed by an individual against another with a familiar relationship. The victim could be a spouse, partner, child, parent, or other relatives, as well as close friends.

Police agencies and the Crown consider all complaints of assault as serious crimes. The police are required to investigate any claims made by a victim. If there is indeed evidence to support an assault, then it is entirely up to the Crown what types of charges one could face.

If you have been formally charged with an assault offence it is in your best interests to get your own legal advice and counsel. Please feel free to contact me, Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg at 416-428-7360 now to schedule a consultation.