Under Ontario law, any intentional, unwanted touching of another person may be classified as assault. Contrary to what one might think, assault does not have to involve violent force, nor does the victim have to actually be harmed. For example, swinging a fist without actually hitting anyone, holding a gun to the head without firing, or throwing an object at a person in such a manner as to be threatening can all be considered assault under the criminal code. In some cases, even the threat to apply force may be enough to charge someone with assault. When non-consensual, intentional physical contact does in fact cause actual harm, the charges may be upgraded to “assault causing bodily harm,” “aggravated assault,” or even “attempted murder.”
Crown Prosecutors take assault ̶ and domestic assault in particular ̶ very seriously. Accordingly, a conviction on assault charges can bring with it some serious penalties. Assault is what is known as a hybrid offence, meaning that the Crown Prosecutor may elect to proceed summarily or by indictment. If they proceed summarily, then the maximum sentence is usually six months in jail. If the crime is treated as an indictable offence, then the penalties may be more severe, on the order of up to five years in jail. More serious offences, such as assault with a weapon or assault with bodily harm, may involve a prison sentence of anywhere from 18 months to 10 years. Aggravated assault is an indictable offence that is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.
Jail time isn’t the only potential consequence of an assault conviction. It can curtail a person’s ability to travel and to obtain future employment or education; it can also negatively impact family law rights, firearms rights, immigration status, reputation, and many other important facets of a defendant’s life. Additionally, victims may sue their assailant for significant monetary damages to compensate them for their injuries.
While there are a number of valid defences to assault and other violent offences in Ontario, the legal considerations and court procedures involved in assault cases can be complex. It is crucial that a person charged with assault retain an experienced criminal defence lawyer who can craft the most effective defence. Toronto criminal defence lawyer Mitch Engel has extensive experience defending clients against assault charges and works tirelessly on their behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.
Since 1996, the law firm of Mitch Engel, Barrister & Solicitor has been providing clients throughout the Oshawa, Brampton, and Mississauga areas with top-level criminal defence representation. Mitch focuses exclusively on criminal law and his extensive experience has given him excellent insight and strategic instincts about how to prepare and present the best possible defence in each unique case. His commitment to integrity, his passion and professionalism, and his excellent track record have earned him the respect of clients, colleagues, and courts throughout the Toronto area. A strong and zealous advocate, Mitch Engel stays available to his clients 24/7 and works on a block fee basis, meaning that his clients pay an initial retainer, which is then applied toward a fee for his services. He understands that his clients are making an investment in him, and works tirelessly to earn their trust and provide the advice and guidance they need. Call Mitch at (866) 761-7077 to get the legal advice you need to reclaim your life.