Different Types of Assaults in Canada – Excluding Sexual Related Offences

February 7, 2019

The 3 Types of Non-Sexual Assault

In Canada, Assault Causing Bodily Harm is one of the three primary types of physical assault (excluding sexual assault). Each has its own definition and sentencing option. We list them here by severity (lowest to highest):

1. Simple or Common Assault

Common assault is the least severe form of assault. There is no lasting damage or major injury involved in simple assault. Examples include pushing, slapping, and verbal threats. This type of common assault is typically a summary offence.

2. Assault With A Weapon or Causing Bodily Harm

Any kind of assault where non-trivial bodily harm occurs is assault causing bodily harm. Assault with a weapon is any assault committed while carrying, using, or threatening to use a weapon. A weapon is anything that is designed, intend, or used to cause injury or death to a person. As well, anything used or intended to intimidate or threatening a person may be considered a weapon. This includes imitation weapons.

Both assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm can be tried as either summary or indictable offences. A summary offence for these charges carries a maximum penalty of 18 months or $5000. An indictable offence for these offence has a maximum sentence of 10 years.

3. Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is a severe form of assault that involves or risks major injury. This includes injuries that wound, maim, disfigure or jeopardize the life of a person. Next to homicide, aggravated assault is the most serious violent crime.

Aggravated assault is always an indictable offence with a maximum sentence of 14 years.


For information on sexual assault charges read: The Sexual Assault Lawyers Guide to Charges & Defences

What Constitutes “Assault Causing Bodily Harm”

There are two main categories of actions that result in assault causing bodily harm. The first is the intentional application of force against another. The second is actions that could foreseeably cause bodily harm to another.

Assault through the intentional application of force occurs when one applies physical force to someone without their consent. Consent in the context of criminal law is not always straightforward. For example, consent does not legally apply to any serious bodily harm. If a serious injury occurs, there is no consent.

In this type of assault, the action taken had the explicit intention of causing bodily harm or putting the other person at risk of bodily harm. However, the same charge can apply if the resultant harm was unintentional. This is a scenario where the accused has objective foresight to the risks.

Objective foresight includes acting despite knowledge, or having willful blindness to the fact, that the actions could cause bodily harm. This reckless action can count as assault, even if the injury was not intentional.

What Constitutes Bodily Harm

Bodily harm is an under-defined term. The general guidelines are the bodily harm is “trivial and non-transitory.” This definition leaves room for inconsistencies between different cases. Some things, such as a broken arm or an injury that requires an immediate hospital visit, are clear examples of bodily harm.

More minor injuries can be less consistent. For example, bruises are usually transitory because they are temporary. However, bruises on the face may be considered non-trivial, in which case they count as bodily harm.

As well, assault causing bodily harm is not always physical. Psychological harm can count as well. Psychological trauma, such as anxiety, PTSD, or chronic depression falls under the category of bodily harm.

Hire A Toronto Assault Lawyer

If you or a loved one are facing assault charges in Toronto, you need to hire an assault lawyer. Hiring an experienced criminal lawyer makes all the difference in the outcome of your case.

The best Toronto criminal lawyers know the most effective assault defences and ensure you get fair representation. Contact the Toronto criminal law firm of William Jaksa today.

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