You meet charges of assault? The lawyers of Riendeau Attorneys are there to help you and find the best defense for your case.

Assault - Criminal Code Offense

I am accused of assault, what does it mean?

Assault is one of the most common offence charged in criminal law and it includes more than one might think. It is often thought that only people’s with fiery temper can find themselves in situation where charges of assault are made against them, but our experience as criminal lawyers has shown us that anyone can be in the wrong place at the wrong time and to be subject to such accusations

Section 265 (1) of the Criminal Code defines the offense of assault as the act of engaging in an attack or assault in the following situations:

  1. intentionally, uses force, directly or indirectly, against another person without his consent;
  2. attempts or threatens, by an act or gesture, to use force against another person, if he is in a position to do so, or if he causes that person to believe, on reasonable grounds, that he is also present measure of accomplishing his purpose;
  3. ostensibly wearing a weapon or imitation, approaching or importing another person or begging.

In order to understand what constitutes a charge of assault and its consequences, it is important to define that offence, its scope and be aware of the different types of assault charges. In fact, there are different types of assault (see below). In order to qualify the offence properly, it is necessary to look at the consequences of the act on the complainant, to ask whether a weapon was used during the attack, or if the assault was made against a police officer.

Simple Assault

The type of assault with the lowest objective seriousness and the least severe sentence is that of common assault (section 265 of the Criminal Code). It applies when a person uses force against another individual without his consent. It can range from pushing someone, restricting them, to punching or kicking. In addition, simple assault does not necessarily involve physical contact – a threatening act or an attempt to use force can result in a conviction of assault.

Assault with a Weapon

The second type of assault is assault with a weapon provided for in Article 267 of the Criminal Code. The concept of « weapons » includes not only weapons in the traditional sense of the term, but also any object that is used for the purpose of threatening or injuring anyone, whether an animal, a knife or a glass of wine.

Assault causing bodily harm

The offense of assault causing bodily harm is also provided for in section 267 of the Criminal Code. « Bodily harm » means an injury that affects the health or well-being of a person and is not of a transient or unimportant nature. This includes psychological injuries.

Aggravated Assault

Section 268 (1) of the Criminal Code provides that a person commits aggravated assault if it injures, mutilates, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant. There is a thin line between assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault. The difference between both is related to the extent of the injury sustained by the complainant. The Crown Attorney will not have to demonstrate the intent to commit a serious assault, but rather the objective foreseeability that the actions could lead to such consequences.

Assault on a peace officer

Section 270 (1) of the Criminal Code provides for a separate offense in the following cases:

  1. against a public officer or peace officer acting in the performance of their duties, or a person who assists them;
  2. against a person with the intention of resisting or prevent the lawful arrest or detention of himself or another person;
  3. against a person
    • who is engaged in the lawful execution of a process against lands or goods or in making a lawful distress or seizure, or
    • with intent to rescue anything taken under lawful process, distress or seizure.

Can I consent to an assault?

The Crown must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt, not only the assault, but also that the victim did not consent to the assault. Indeed, it is possible to consent to a fight. However, the courts have held that a person can not consent to be subjected to bodily harm or serious injury in a fight, unless it is done in a sporting environment.

The sentences for each type of assault

The consequences of a conviction of assault depend on the type of assault, with the Criminal Code determining the penalties applicable to each. The sentence may also vary according to the circumstances of the event, the extent of the injuries inflicted, the history of the accused, etc.

Simple Assault (Clause 265 (1)

Section 266 of the Criminal Code specifies the sentence for simple assault. The law provides that the prosecution may decide to proceed by way of indictment or summary conviction for this type of offense, but that the maximum penalty for a common assault is 5 years imprisonment.

Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (article 267 of the Criminal Code):

Section 267 of the Criminal Code provides that a person prosecuted by indictable offense for that offense is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years. In the case of summary prosecution, the accused will be liable to imprisonment for up to eighteen months.

Aggravated Assault (Article 268

This crime is one of the most important one in the criminal code and generally involves a term of imprisonment, even for an accused without a criminal record. For this type of assault, the accused is liable to imprisonment for up to fourteen years.

Assault on a peace officer (s. 270 Cr. C.)

For this type of offence, a person prosecuted by indictment will be liable to a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and may be prosecuted by summary conviction in the least serious cases. 


It is important to know that a person accused of assault has several defences that may lead to an acquittal, including self-defence (section 34 of the Criminal Code). To invoke self-defence, the accused must credibly establish three elements.

  1. believes, on reasonable grounds, that force is being used against him or her or another person or that it is being threatened against him or her or another person;
  2. commits the act constituting the offence for the purpose of self-defence or protection
  3. acts reasonably in the circumstances.

Once established, the burden is on the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this defence does not apply.

Riendeau Attorneys-at-law

In summary, there are several types of assaults that can have serious consequences. Are you charged with assault?

We recommend that you contact one of the lawyers at Riendeau Attorneys-at-law as soon as possible in order to benefit from our experience and to obtain the best possible settlement, or even an acquittal.