In Canada, assault is a broad term that describes more than a physical attack. While assault often involves physical violence, such as intentionally applying non-consensual force upon another person, it can also include threats and accosting another individual with a weapon.
When it comes to an assault involving non-physical force, the victim must have reasonable grounds to believe that the perpetrator will follow through with the threat of applying physical force. Evidence of physical force is not necessary in this case.
While this definition applies to assault in general, different forms of assault have different requirements and some are treated more seriously than others.
Common Charges Associated With Assault
Common charges associated with aggravated assault include:
- Assault causing bodily harm
- Aggravated assault
- Assault with a weapon
- Sexual assault
- Uttering threats
Consequences of Assault
Because there is a range of assault charges, the consequences are dependent on the specific charge but include:
- Imprisonment (5-16 years)
- Summary conviction (imprisonment for up to 18 months)
A summary conviction, or summary offence, is resolved without a jury or indictment. It’s considered a “less serious” offence and is punished according to a different set of rules and lower sentencing guidelines.
Frequently Asked Questions About Assault Charges in Alberta
1. What are the best defences to an assault charge?
Every case is different and your defence will depend on the circumstances of the offence. However, when it comes to defending assault charges your lawyer will explore two defences: self-defence and accident.
In the case of self-defence, you will have to prove that you had reasonable grounds to believe that force was being used against you and that you acted reasonably by defending yourself. If the assault was an accident, you will have to prove that the event was unforeseeable.
2. What should I do if I have been falsely accused of assault?
The first you should do is seek the assistance of a criminal defence lawyer, even if there is no direct evidence against you. Even with a lack of evidence, the police and Crown Prosecutor will treat the allegation very seriously.
If the incident goes to trial, your innocence rests on your word against your accuser’s. If you are innocent, a good criminal defence lawyer can poke holes in the complainant’s allegations and weaken their case.
3. The complainant has decided not to press charges. Will the charges be dropped?
Even if the complainant drops the charges against you, the Crown Prosecutor can decide to prosecute the case anyway. In these cases, the complainant will likely be subpoenaed to court to answer questions about the assault.
If the complainant is no longer available for trial or refuses to show up, the Crown Prosecutor can still pursue a conviction using the victim’s statements to police as well as the testimony of witnesses and medical records.
So even if the complainant decides to not press charges, it is still vital that you retain a criminal defence lawyer.
4. Can I be sued for assault?
While your criminal case is pending, it’s possible that you may face a lawsuit filed by the victim claiming personal injuries. In a civil case, you won’t face a criminal punishment such as jail time but will have to provide compensation for the injuries sustained by the victim.
For example, you may have to pay for physical therapy, therapy for trauma, medical bills, etc.
I’ve Been Charged With Assault. What Should I Do?
You need to speak with a criminal defence lawyer right away. Contact DDSG Criminal Law today for legal representation and to ensure that your rights are protected.