Assault – Section 266 of the Criminal Code

An assault is any intentional application of force to a person without the consent of that person. Attempting to apply force can also be considered an assault as well as aggressively approaching or impeding someone or begging while openly carrying a weapon or imitation weapon.


The maximum penalty for this crime is five years in prison.

Is a fight an assault?

Some fights are not regarded as assaults if both parties to the fight agreed to fight. However consent is not a defence to this charge if it causes serious hurt or bodily harm to the parties involved.

What about self-defence?

Because of the influence of American television and Hollywood, people often have mistaken beliefs about what self-defence is in Canada. Before a court, it is only what the law says that applies in determining whether or not a person’s actions are self-defence.
In 2012, the laws regarding self-defence were changed to make them easier to understand. The law now states that 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.

How does a court decide whether or not self-defence is reasonable?

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

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 is domestic assault?

There is no criminal charge of domestic assault. In a legal context a domestic assault is one that takes place in the context of a romantic relationship. The courts consider this to be more serious than a non-domestic assault.

Take the Next Step

Lakin Afolabi is a criminal lawyer in London, Ontario who has defended countless people charged with all sorts of crimes. If you or someone you know is facing assault charges call him anytime at 519-645-6969.