Assault charges in Ontario can be a serious issue. As such those charged guilty with assault could face a severe penalty.

What is an assault?

The most common form of assault is any kind of force that is applied to another person, either directly or indirectly, without that person’s consent.

The force applied has to be intentional, however. This means that hitting somebody accidentally does not amount to an assault.

Although most people are faced with assault charges in Ontario because of an application of force, like a push or a punch.

There are ways you can be charged with an assault even if you don’t actually touch the other person.

For instance, aggressively approaching someone with a weapon or simply threatening to apply force on another person can be considered an assault charge in Ontario as well.

How can the crown attorney/prosecutor prove assault charges in Ontario?

To be convicted of assault charges in Ontario, the Crown attorney has to prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

1) That you actually did the act that you are alleged to have done; and

2) that you intended to do that act

If the prosecutor can prove those two things, the only way to be found innocent is if you can show the court, that you had a legal justification for your action(s).

It is important to speak to someone who is knowledgeable about the law to determine if you have any possible defences for your case.

What if there are no injuries?

Oftentimes assaults don’t result in any injuries.

As outlined above, in order to be convicted of an assault, the prosecutor only needs to prove the unlawful act (e.g. push) as well as the intention to perform the act.

This means that you can be convicted of an assault even if the other person has no injuries.

However, the existence of injuries can be relevant in proving the offence against you, if you are charged with a more serious kind of assault

For instance, if you are charged with the offence of assault causing bodily harm, the prosecutor would have to not only prove the assault, but also the fact that the assault caused bodily harm to the other person.

In the same way, you can only be convicted of aggravated assault if the prosecutor can prove that you wounded, maimed, disfigured, or endangered the life of the other person.

Can I still be found guilty of an assault if we agreed to fight?

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It depends!

Technically speaking, an application of force that arises out of a consensual fight cannot be an assault because both parties have consented to the physical contact.

Therefore, a mutual fight can be a viable defence in some cases.

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However, the law states that consent cannot be a defence in instances where serious hurt or non-trivial bodily harm is caused as a result of the fight.

In other words, the defence of consent can only work if the assault didn’t cause bodily harm.

Bodily harm is defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada as,

“any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the health or comfort of the person and that is more than merely transient or trifling in nature”

What about self-defence?

The law recognizes that, in some instances, individuals should be allowed to protect themselves by using force.

For instance, if illegal force is being used against you or another person, or if there is a threat of illegal force being used against you or another person, it is lawful to act reasonably to defend yourself.

In determining if self-defence is reasonable, a court will look at the following things:

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The type of force/threat.
How immediate the threat was and whether or not there were other options available for self-preservation besides the use of force.

Any role that a person played in the incident.

The size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the people involved in the incident.

Any relationship that may have existed between the people involved, including any prior use of force as well as any previous communication.

The type of force that was used and how proportionate it was to the threat.

Whether a person was defending him/herself from force that s/he knew to be lawful.

What are the different kinds of assault charges in Ontario?

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Generally speaking, there are four kinds of assault you can be charged with, in Ontario:

Assault with a weapon
Assault causing bodily harm
Aggravated assault
The kind of assault you are charged with depends on the nature and extent of the injuries caused, and/or whether a weapon was used while committing the assault.

What are the maximum penalties for each kind of assault charges in Ontario?

Simple assault

Simple assault is the least severe form of assault charges in Ontario and it can attract a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Aggravated assault

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if convicted of aggravated assault charges in Ontario, you can spend up to fourteen years in prison.

Assault with a weapon/Assault causing bodily harm
Finally, if convicted of an assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm, you can face up to ten years in prison.

What about domestic assault charges in Ontario?


However, the police, the prosecutor, and the entire legal system view domestic assault charges as being more serious than non-domestic assault charges in Ontario.

As such, people who are charged with an assault against a romantic partner – such as a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife – often face harsher penalties than those who commit an assault against a stranger or a friend.

For sexual assault, see this post

Our team of defence lawyers are especially experienced in dealing with assaults against domestic partners.

We are both knowledgeable on the law as well as the different types of ways you can go about defending your domestic assault case.

Let’s help you!

If you or someone you know is facing an assault charge

Lakin Afolabi LPC blog material is screened for authenticity as of the date of posting and accurately reflects the law to the best of our knowledge. Because the nature of the legal landscape is ever-changing we do not guarantee the future accuracy or completeness of this blog material past the date of posting. This material is not a replacement for advice received from our team of legal professionals. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk.