What is assault?
A person commits and assault when:
- Without the consent of another person, applies force intentionally to that person directly or indirectly;
- He or she attempts or threatens, by an act or gesture, to apply force to another person, if her or she has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
- While openly carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs
Assault is one of the most common criminal offences and ranges from a pinch to a punch or kick to the head. To be convicted of assault, there need not be any harm to the complainant. As long as the application of force was intentional and without consent, the offence of assault can be made out by the prosecutor.
In addition to common assault, there are various forms of assault including assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault. The difference between assault, assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault is the degree of harm suffered.
The vast majority of people charged with assault are first time offenders in situations where they are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. As a result, there are many options to resolve your charge that will not result in a criminal record.
The consequences of being found guilty of assault are significant. The greater the harm suffered, the greater the penalty. Sentences for assault range from discharges to significant periods of jail.
Depending on the severity of the allegations, an accused may enter into a Peace Bond in which they are bound by certain conditions such as counselling, abstaining from alcohol and having no-contact with the complaint. Upon signing the Peace Bond, the criminal charges are withdrawn and the accused person is left with no criminal record. A Peace Bond is not a finding of guilt.
Alternative Measures Program
In certain circumstances, an accused person may have their assault charge withdrawn by entering into the Alternative Measures Program. This is a program that diverts offenders from the traditional court system and upon completing certain conditions such as counselling or community service, the assault charge is withdrawn leaving the accused with no criminal record.