Ottawa Assault Lawyer
Assault is the intentional, unauthorized touching of another person. It is an often misunderstood charge, originating in emotional encounters, where a momentary flare of temper might create a criminal record that trails you for the rest of your life. The circumstances of the encounter, the relationship, if any, between the assailant and the complainant, whether a weapon was used, the degree of injury, if any, are all relevant to a charge and to the defence of the charge of assault. Experienced and effective defence lawyers know how to analyze the complete evidentiary record to chart a defence strategy. Call Auger Hollingsworth, Ottawa assault defence lawyers to arrange for a free consultation now.
What is an Assault?
Section 265 of the Criminal Code of Canada defines the crime of assault. An assault occurs when a person:
- Without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly.
- He attempts or threatens, by an act of a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that another person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose.
- While openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.
Types of Assaults
There are different degrees of assault. Penalties depend on the type of assault charged.
- Common Assault: No lasting harm is caused and no weapon is brandished.
- Assault with a Weapon: The threat or actual assault is committed with weapons. The definition of weapon is not limited to firearms and knives, since many objects—canes, bottles, bricks, books, mallets, pots, even a shoe—can be used as a threatening and dangerous weapon.
- Assault Causing Bodily Harm: The harm caused might be temporary or longer lasting.
- Aggravated Assault: Disfigurement, maiming, or wounding resulting from the assault, or the victim’s life is threatened.
- Assaulting a Peace Officer: Knowingly assaulting a law enforcement officer.
- Assault While Resisting Arrest: An assault might be charged, but only valid if committed during a lawful arrest.
Criminal vs. Civil Cases
Criminal prosecutions are brought by the Crown with punishment—imprisonment, probation, restitution, or fines—imposed by the criminal court. A civil claim of assault is pursued by the injured victim who is seeking damages for the injuries sustained as a form of restitution. Those damages might include the cost of medical care, past and future, loss of wages, loss of consortium, and compensation for any permanent physical or mental harm. A civil suit does not bring with it the serious consequences of a criminal indictment or criminal sentence.
Is Injury Required in an Assault Case?
The simple answer is no. The mere threat of force, or any unauthorized touching that does not harm, can be enough to charge the crime of assault. Actual physical harm is not required, although if it occurs, it will elevate the degree of assault and therefore, the penalties, upon conviction.
What are the Main Defences for an assault charge?
There are two main categories of defences to a charge of assault:
Consent: An essential element of the crime of assault is that the touching must be unauthorized. Therefore, proof of consent is a viable defence. The circumstances surrounding the incident are fact-rich and need to be examined to determine the degree of the offence. For example, there might be explicit consent to the touching, such as a romantic encounter. Or the consent might be tacit, such as entering a crowded nightclub where it is expected that customers might be jostled on the dance floor or around the bar.
Self-Defence: A person is allowed to use reasonable, proportionate force in response to provocation, or to protect oneself or a close member of the family, or property. Key to the validity of the defence is that the force must be proportionate to the threat of force. Self-defence is a tricky defence that is fact-dependent and often relies on the credibility of witness testimony. Skilled defence lawyers know how to raise it and use it effectively.
Penalties for an Assault Charge
Assault is punished according to the circumstances of the event, with higher penalties when the harm caused is serious and lasting, when a weapon was used, and depending on who was assaulted. Lesser assaults carry a maximum of less than 2 years whereas assault causing bodily harm can result in jail terms of up to 10 years. Aggravated assault can bring a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
Contact our Assault Lawyers Today
Choosing an Ottawa assault lawyer can help preserve your rights and defences to criminal charges. At Auger Hollingsworth, we offer a free consultation session during which you can assess our lawyers and we can assess the strength of the prosecution’s claims. During this free consultation we will:
- Review the criminal charges or the request for appearance or subpoena for documents, and any police reports and other documents.
- We will listen to your story and map out the areas for investigation, begin to compile a list of witnesses, and compose the various strategies the facts and law offer.
- We will provide you with an estimate of the cost of legal services.
- If we are unable to provide you with a defence, we will refer you to other counsel.
Call today at (613) 699-8192 to schedule a free consultation with the skilled Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.