The 13 Types of Assault In Canada (+ 1 Violent Offence Against Clergy)

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When somebody does or says something violent the police and courts take notice and there are consequences. But, to the average person, it’s not always clear what they might be. It’s not always clear what acts will or will not get the police’s attention. To add to the confusion, there are numerous ways in which a person who has done or said something violent can be charged. We’re going to explore the different types of assault and assault charges in Canada in this article, as well as the maximum sentence for each type of assault charge.

Because violence and threats of violence are looked down on society they are punished by the Criminal Law in proportion to the severity of the incident. That means that a more severe assault will result in more serious charges, a harsher punishment, and greater impact on the person’s life. Some assaults are so serious that both the person assaulted and the perpetrator will have their lives changed forever – be it by the assault, or by a lengthy prison sentence. What’s more, assault is assault regardless of age, and can apply in situations some people might be surprised in – like schoolyard fights. A 14-year-old student was recently charged with assault after a fight at Wallaceburg District Secondary School . People get charged with assault in many different situations. Two men were recently charged in Peterborough after a fight broke out between a store employee and a customer attempting to return an item, both were charged .

If an object is used in the assault, you may get charged with aggravated assault. ‘Aggravated’ roughly means ‘more serious’. This happened recently n in Saskatoon when a man assaulted 4 people with a shovel in a Home Depot store . Or, you could be charged with ‘assault with a weapon’. That happened to a 20-year-old in Hamilton recently after he pulled a knife when an altercation escalated . Similarly, a 24-year-old London man received 6 charges, 3 of aggravated assault and 3 of assault with a weapon, after 3 people were stabbed outside a bar . The use of a firearm in an offence can also be an offence charge in and as of itself, by virtue of s.85 of the Criminal Code. The maximum penalty for using a firearm in the commission offence is 14 years.

If the assault is of a sexual nature, then a ‘sexual assault’ charge might be placed, as happened to Port Moody Mayor Robert Vagramov . Mayor Vagramov’s charge was initially pursued as an indictment, but then reduced to a summary conviction. When a case proceeds by summary conviction the punishments are significantly reduced – we’ll show you just how much in our list of assault offences in Canada below. Notably, Vagramov also told Global News that his lawyers were exploring a potential resolution with the Crown that would not involve a trial at all . The value of lawyers in Vagramov’s case is self-evident.

You can also be charged with uttering threats. A man in Burnaby was charged with both assault uttering threats after he made sexist and racist comments on a bus . You can find a video of the incident here: https://bc.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1774181. You’ll notice that even though the man made racist remarks, he wasn’t charged with a hate crime. If you want to know why that might be, we’ve actually already written an article about whether or not it’s illegal to be racist in Canada, and the race-based offences a person can be charged with, which you can find here: .

That brings us to our list of assaults in Canada, and the maximum sentence for each. As you will see, they all have potentially serious consequences. By having an experienced, knowledgable lawyer, with expertise in the specific charge you’re facing, you can navigate the legal system more fairly, and you have the opportunity to reach a negotiated agreement. A lawyer can make a huge difference, and can help achieve a resolution on your behalf to help you get back to living your life. In the list below we list the name of the offence, the section of the Criminal Code it comes from, and the punishment which someone charged with these offences may face. Remember, you’re innocent until proven guilty, and it’s up to the Crown to prove you committed the offence. Having a lawyer by your side helps protect you, and ensures that the Crown is held to the highest standards in proving the offence.

  1. Obstructing or Violence to or Arrest of Officiating Clergyman (s.176) [n.b., this is not part of the assaults section of the Criminal Code, but we’ve included it because of the offence’s similarity, and the necessary element of volence]
    a. Indictable: 2 years.
  2. Uttering Threats (s.264.1):
    a. Indictable: 5 years
    b. Summary Conviction: 18 months
  3. Assault often referred to as ‘simple assault’
    a. Indictable: 5 years
    b. Summary conviction
  4. Assault With a Weapon or Causing Bodily harm (s.267)
    a. Indictable: 10 years
    b. Summary Conviction: 18 months
  5. Aggravated Assault (s.268)
    a. Indictable: 14 years
  6. Unlawfully Causing Bodily Harm (s.269)
    a. Indictable: 10 years
    b. Summary Conviction: 18 months
  7. Torture (s.269.1)
    a. Indictable: 14 years
  8. Assaulting a Peace Officer (s.270)
    a. Indictable: 5 years
    b. Summary Conviction
  9. Assaulting Peace Officer With Weapon or Causing Bodily Harm (s.270.01)
    a. Indictable: 10 years
    b. Summary Conviction: 18 months
  10. Aggravated Assault of Peace Officer (s.270.02)
    a. Indictable: 14 years
  11. Disarming a Peace Officer (s.270.1)
    a. Indictable: 5 years
    b. Summary Conviction: 18 months
  12. Sexual Assault (s. 271)
    a. Indictable, complainant >16 years old: 10 years
    b. Indictable, complainant <16 years old: 14 years (minimum 1 year) c. Summary Conviction, complainant >16 years old: 18 months
    d. Summary Conviction, complainant <16 years old: 2 years less a day (minimum 6 months)
  13. Sexual Assault With a Weapon, Threats To Third Part, Or Causing Bodily Harm (s.272)
    a. Indictable: Up to life in prison, depending on circumstances
    b. N.B.: This section also contains various minimums, where a firearm is used, or where a complainant us under 16 years old
  14. Aggravated Sexual Assault (s.273)
    a. Indictable: Up to life in prison, depending on circumstances
    b. N.B.: This section also contains various minimums, where a firearm is used, or where a complainant us under 16 years old

As we have seen, there is a broad range of assaults and offences involving violence in the Criminal Code. They are treated seriously by the Court, and severe assaults of certain types can even lead to life imprisonment. Assaults are complicated, and a complicated legal topic too. It’s crucial to have the right advice to successfully defend against any kind of assault charge, and to ensure that your presumption of innocence is first and foremost in everyone’s mind. Regardless, we hope you have enjoyed this look into the different types of assaults and sentences for assaults in Canada.

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