What Happens If You Are Charged with Assault in Ontario?


Being charged with a crime, guilty or not, can affect your standing in society. Being accused of assault can seriously damage your reputation.

In Canada, a DUI or impaired driving is a serious offence. It has been recognized as a criminal act in Canada since 1921. According to Statistics Canada, “Impaired driving is a major public safety issue in Canada.”

In addition to lives lost, impaired driving also places a significant financial load on Canadian taxpayers because of policing costs. There has been a decrease in impaired driving cases over the last ten years, but it is still the most common criminal offence brought to adult criminal court.

What is Assault?

According to Section 265 of the Canadian Criminal Code, an individual commits assault when:

  1. They directly or indirectly apply force intentionally to another person, without that person’s consent;
  2. They attempt or threaten, by a gesture or an act, to apply force to another individual, if they have, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that they have, present ability to effect their purpose; or
  3. While they openly wore or carried a weapon or an imitation of a weapon, they accost or impede another person, or if the person with the weapon begs.

It is important to note that even if the force or threat is perceived or minimal, it will still be considered an assault.

What are the types of Assault?

1.   Simple Assault

Simple assault is the most basic form of assault charge and one of the most common offences laid in Canada. This type of assault occurs when the assailant uses no weapon and the injuries sustained by the plaintiff are minor.

A simple assault can be prosecuted in two ways:

  1. A person charged with simple assault as a summary conviction can be processed directly by a judge. There is no need for the presence of a jury or a jail sentence.
  2. In more severe cases of simple assault, however, it can be treated as an indictable offence. This requires a more formal court process where the accused could be liable to up to five years in prison.

2.   Assault with a Weapon

Assault with a weapon is when a person carries, uses, or threatens to use a weapon or an imitation of a weapon and causes bodily harm to another person. The weapon can be a gun or a knife. However, anything can be a weapon, depending on how it is used. For example, a frying pan or a pen can be weapons if they are used to threaten or cause bodily harm to another person. This is a serious criminal offence under Section 267 of the Criminal Code of Canada. It can be prosecuted as a summary conviction or as an indictable offence. The maximum penalty in a summary conviction is 18 months imprisonment. If the case proceeds to an indictment, the maximum penalty is 10 years.

3.   Assault Causing Bodily Harm

This type of assault applies when the offender uses physical force, and as a result, someone gets hurt. Bodily harm ranges from scratches to fractures. Like assault with a weapon, this can be prosecuted as a summary conviction with a maximum penalty of 18 months. It can also be prosecuted as an indictable offence with a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

4.   Aggravated Assault

This is a more serious type of assault. Under Section 268 of the Criminal Code of Canada, a person commits aggravated assault if they wound, maim, disfigure or endanger the life of the complainant. Wounding in this case, only requires that the plaintiff’s skin is broken. Aggravated assault is the most serious of violent crimes next to homicide and typically results in potentially lifelong injuries or even death of the complainant. This type of assault is an indictable offence with a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

5.   Sexual Assault

When a person makes sexual contact with another person without their consent, this is sexual assault. This is a hybrid offence. It can be prosecuted summarily with a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison. It can also be prosecuted by indictment with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. If the complainant is under the age of 16, however, the penalty is between one and 14 years in prison.

6.   Sexual Assault with a Weapon

Sexual assault becomes more serious if it involves the use of a weapon. If the accused carried, used, or threatened to use a weapon to cause bodily harm to a person when the sexual assault occurred, that is sexual assault with a weapon.

Even if the threat or bodily harm is made against someone other than the victim of the sexual assault, this is still an offence. If the person holding the weapon is not the one committing the sexual assault, the assailant is also guilty of this offence.

This type of assault is an indictable-only offence with penalties ranging from five years to a maximum of life in prison if the complainant is below the age of 16.

7.   Aggravated Sexual Assault

Aggravated sexual assault occurs when the victim of sexual assault is wounded, maimed, disfigured, or put at risk of death.

If the defendant used a prohibited or restricted weapon for committing the offence or if the offence was committed at the direction of or for the benefit of a criminal organization, the minimum penalty is five years for the first offence and seven years for a second or subsequent offence. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

If the plaintiff is under the age of 16, the minimum penalty is five years in prison and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

8.   Assaulting a Peace Officer

Violence against a public servant or public official is a serious criminal offence in Canada. An assault on a peace officer is committed in three ways:

  1. The first can occur when the peace officer is engaged in the execution of their duty, and there is an intentional application of force similar to simple assault.
  2. The second occurs when the accused assaults the officer while resisting lawful arrest of himself or another person.
  3. The third occurs when the accused assaults the officer involved in a lawful process, seizure, or distress against lands or goods. This type of assault typically occurs when the defendant assaults the officer with the intention to rescue anything taken under lawful process, seizure, or distress.

Depending on the circumstances of the violent act, assault against a peace officer can be prosecuted as a summary conviction or as an indictable offence. The penalty for a summary conviction is a maximum of $5,000 fine and/or six months in prison. For an indictable offence, the maximum penalty is five years in prison.

“An assault conviction can impact your standing in the community and can affect your eligibility for future employment. If you have been falsely accused, I can help build an effective defence strategy that can clear your name.”

Robert W.H. Kivlichan
Criminal Defence Lawyer, Founding Partner


“Robert doesn’t let you down. Personable, easy-going, but doesn’t back down and fights hard for you. If in the future I need representation again, he’s the only guy I intend to retain. He helped me get my family back together, and that’s a debt to him I can’t repay. Robert won’t put you in the poor house while keeping you out of the “BIG” house, either. Recommended 100%.”

R.B. – Ontario

If you have been charged with assault, do not attempt to face the charges on your own. We highly recommend you contact a lawyer. Robert Kivlichan has successfully defended clients who have been charged with different types of assault charges. He has years of experience and can build an effective defence strategy tailored to your situation.


What should I do if I have been charged with assault?

If you have been charged with assault – whether it is simple assault or aggravated assault, you must consult a lawyer immediately. Being convicted of assault can affect your eligibility for future employment and your ability to travel.

What if the accuser does not have any injuries?

Often, assault does not result in any injuries. In order to be convicted of an assault, the crown prosecutor only needs to prove the unlawful act (e.g., pushing), as well as the intention to perform that act.


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