Can You Be Charged with Assault Without Touching Someone?

December 17, 2021

Ontario courts take the crime of assault very seriously, but many people misunderstand the term. Often, the word assault is taken to mean that one person did something to hurt another person, but this isn’t exactly the case. In this post we’ll define the term assault according to the Criminal Code of Canada and discuss how you could be charged with assault even if you didn’t touch anyone. 

Definition of Assault

According to Section 265 of the Criminal Code, a person commits an assault when

  • (a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, 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.

So by this definition, assault is any kind of intentional violent act towards another person without their consent. A violent act could be something causing bodily harm or simply threatening violence towards another person, you do not have to physically harm them or even touch them. Simple assault is any criminal act that involves violence. It can possibly include someone yelling to intimidate or threatening another person and does not need to involve any injuries. 

Penalties For Assault

There are many different types of assault, and each type of assault carries its own charges and penalties and sentencing ranges depending on the severity. How the violent act takes place and the specific circumstances will determine the charge. For instance, a charge of simple assault or common assault could be applied to minor offences. For first time offenders, it could result in an Absolute Discharge, meaning no conviction or sentence, to as much as five years  imprisonment were the allegations and circumstances surrounding the offence are very serious. 

A charge of assault with a weapon is considered a much more serious crime and includes using a weapon to threaten or intimidate a person.  It can result in up to 10 years of jail time upon a  conviction. Aggravated assault is the most serious form of assault and includes the wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering another person’s life. It has severe penalties and can be punishable by up to 14 years in jail. 

In order to prove that an assault has taken place the Crown must prove that the act was intentional and that the person charged actually did the act. So if a person is charged with aggravated assault, the Crown must prove that the assault took place, that it was intentional and it wounded, disfigured or endangered another person’s life. 

What is Verbal Assault?

There is no crime in Canada called verbal assault, however, you can be charged with uttering threats against another person. To be convicted of uttering threats the Crown must prove that the person intentionally, in any manner – can include written form or online, utter or convey a threat to another person. The person has to intend their words to be taken seriously and does not have to intend to follow through with their threats. 

If you have been charged with any manner of assault, you need an experienced defence lawyer by your side to help navigate the charges. William Jaksa is a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto with over a decade of helping clients with their charges. He can help you understand the charges and get the best possible outcome for your case. Contact William Jaksa today for a consultation. 

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