What Are The Different Types Of Assault Charges In Canada?

Assault is a serious offence which, if convicted, can result in a criminal record for the defendant.

Canada’s Criminal Code criminalizes various types of assault: assault (s. 266), assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm (s. 267), aggravated assault (s. 268), assaulting a peace officer (s. 270), assaulting a peace officer with a weapon or causing bodily harm (s. 270.01) and aggravated assault of a peace officer (s. 270.02).  Assault charges of any capacity should never be taken lightly. If you or a loved one have been charged with assault, consider working closely with an affordable criminal defense lawyer in Toronto to guarantee the best possible outcome for your case.

Interested in learning more about the various types of assault charges in Canada? Keep reading below to discover what each charge entails.

What is the Definition of ‘Assault’?

Section 265(1) of the Criminal Code states that a person commits an assault when:

(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, either directly or indirectly,

(b) he 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

(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.

This means that an actual injury does not have to occur.  in fact, even just a threat of an assault can result in an assault charge.

What is Consent?

Section 265(3) of the Criminal Code states that for the purposes of defining what is an assault, no consent is obtained where the complainant submits or does not resist by reason of

(a) the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;

(b) threats or fear of the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;

(c) fraud; or

(d) the exercise of authority.

The Different Types of Assault

Assault (s. 266)

Simple or common assault is one of the most common and least serious form of assault charge in Canada. This type refers to assaults where no weapon is used and no harm bodily harm is caused to the victim.

Assault With A Weapon Or Assault Causing Bodily Harm (s. 267)

Assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm are the next most serious forms of assault.

Assault with a weapon refers to an assault where someone carries, uses or threatens to use a weapon or an imitation of a weapon.  Section 2 of the Criminal Code stats that a weapon can be anything used, designed to be used or intended to be used in causing death or injury to anyone as well as any thing used or intended for use in “binding or tying up a person against their will.”  In other words, a weapon does not have to be a firearm or a knife.  A weapon can also be a shovel, hammer, stone, screw driver, glass, plate, beer bottle, rope, handcuffs or any other thing “used, designed or intended for use” to cause injury to someone else or to tie someone up against their will.  In fact, a dog may be a weapon and so can a cat (if, say, it is thrown claws-first at another person).

Assault causing bodily harm is any assault which causes bodily harm to another person.  Section 2 of the Criminal Code states that “bodily harm” is “any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the health or comfort of the person that is more than merely transient or trifling in nature”.  To constitute “bodily harm”, the hurt or injury can be either more than “merely transient” or “merely trifling”.  In other words, to be ruled out as bodily harm, the hurt or injury must be both transient and trifling.  Bruises have been held to not be “bodily harm” but facial bruises and cuts have been.

Aggravated Assault (s. 268)

Aggravated assault is the most serious form of assault.  In fact, it is the most serious form short of a death being caused.

Section 268 of the Criminal Code states that everyone commits an aggravated assault who “wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life” of another person.  Aggravated assault is defined by reference to a consequence, not the manner in which it is carried out.  In other words, no matter how the assault is carried out, it becomes an aggravated assault if the victim is wounded, maimed, disfigured, or his/her life is endangered.  A “wound” involves a breaking of the skin.  “Maim” means to injure a person to the extend that they are less able to fight back. “Disfigures” involves “more than a temporary marring” of the victim’s figure or appearance. “Endangerment to life” must involve an actual risk but not necessarily actual bodily harm.  Lasting facial wounds caused by broken beer bottle in a bar fight was ruled to be an aggravated assault.  A punch which knocked out the victim and caused him to slip into a comma was ruled to be an aggravated assault.

Assault Against a Public Transit Operator (s. 269.01)

It becomes an aggravating circumstance in terms of sentencing if any form of assault is committed against a public transit operator, meaning anyone who operates a vehicle used to transport passengers, including school bus drivers.

Assaulting a Peace Officer (s. 270-270.02)

Sections 270, 270.01 and 270.02 of the Criminal Code criminalize each form of assault when committed against a “peace officer”, especially when it is committed with intent to resist or prevent a lawful arrest.  A peace officer does not just include police.  Section 2 of the Criminal Code defines “peace officer” to include a mayor, warden, jail guards, even a pilot of an aircraft.

Need legal advice or representation? Contact John Erickson, an affordable criminal defense lawyer in Toronto, today to start building your defense.