Assault, Assault Causing Bodily Harm or Aggravated Assault

The offence of assault can occur in one of three ways:

  1. Through the intentional application of force to a person and without their consent;
  2. By attempting or threatening to apply force to a person that the person reasonably believes could happen; and
  3. While openly wearing or carrying a weapon or imitation weapon, a person is accosted or impeded.

If you are charged with assault, the Crown Attorney can choose to prosecute in one of two ways: summarily or by indictment. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the Crown Attorney will choose to prosecute you summarily. This means that you will be tried in the Ontario Court of Justice and if convicted, you could face a maximum jail sentence of 6 months.

Similarly, if you are charged with assault causing bodily harm, the Crown Attorney can proceed against you summarily or by indictment. If you are convicted of assault causing bodily harm when the Crown Attorney has elected summarily, the maximum jail sentence is 18 months.

On the other hand, the offence of aggravated assault is indictable. This means that if you receive this charge, you have the option of having a preliminary hearing in the Ontario Court of Justice and then a jury trial in the Superior Court. The maximum penalty if you are convicted is 14 years in prison.

The extent of the injury caused by the assault determines whether you are charged with assault, assault causing bodily harm or aggravated assault. If there is no injury caused or if the injury is transient then you will be charged with assault. On the other end of the spectrum is the offence of aggravated assault. In cases where a person is charged with this offence, the Crown Attorney must prove that the complainant was wounded, maimed, disfigured or had their lives endangered because of this offence.

There are various defences available if you are charged with assault that depends on the specific facts of your case. Two common defences are consent and self-defence.

The defence of consent is available when one person agrees ahead of time to the intentional application of force by another person. One example where consent applies is when two parties agree to fight each other. There are limits to how far consent can apply. For example, a person cannot consent to serious bodily injury or death. That means if a person dies during the course of a consensual fight, you could still find yourself facing serious criminal jeopardy.

Self-defence is another defence that is available to an individual who is charged with assault.  Unlike the defence of consent, the law of self-defence can be applied in situations where serious bodily harm is caused and even death.

If you are charged with any of these crimnal charges, you can contact Morrie Luft at 416-433-2402 or by email at to schedule a free initial consultation.