Assault Lawyer Toronto

How To Defend Assault Charges

It is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer to defend assault charges.

Daniel Brown is certified as a specialist in criminal law and consistently achieves top results for his clients facing assault charges in Toronto (and elsewhere in Ontario) by employing a number of strategies which often result in his client’s charges being withdrawn by the prosecutor or dismissed in court by the judge.

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Daniel Brown Law is recognized by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as one of Canada’s top 10 criminal defence firms

For those facing domestic assault charges, specific considerations apply. Please read my article on defending domestic assault charges to learn more about defending these types of cases. To learn more about assault, assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault charges please continue reading the frequently asked questions below.

Frequently asked questions about assault:

This article contains legal information about assault, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon charges in Toronto, Ontario. Those looking for advice on criminal assault charges should consult a criminal lawyer.

What is an assault?

The definition of assault is found in the Criminal Code at section 265. Generally, an assault occurs when a person intentionally applies direct or indirect force to another person without the other person’s consent.

An assault can also occur where a person attempts or threatens to intentionally apply direct or indirect force to another.

Is harm an element of an assault charge?

A person need not harm someone for an assault to occur. An person may commit an assault although he exerts no degree of strength or power when touching the victim. The force however must be offensive or an affront to an individual’s dignity. A push or pinch in some cases may be sufficient to establish an criminal assault.

What if I accidentally hit someone?

The application of force must be intentional. Accidentally hitting someone during the course of an epileptic seizure, for example, would not constitute an assault. However accidentally hitting one person in an attempt to hit another is not a defence to assault. It does not matter who the intended victim is, as long the offender intended to apply force to any individual, it is still an assault.

What is the difference between an assault, an assault with a weapon, an assault causing bodily harm and an aggravated assault?

The difference between an assault and an assault with a weapon is the vehicle used to deliver the force. Generally an assault or “simple assault” is caused by the application of force from a person’s extremities such as hands, legs or feet. An assault with a weapon generally involves the application of force with an inanimate object such as a stick, bat, knife or object thrown and can even be delivered by something other than an inanimate object including a dog ordered to attack a person.

The difference between assault, assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault is the harm suffered as a result of the application of force.

An assault that causes any hurt or injury that is not transient or trifling in nature and interferes with the complainant’s health or comfort will meet the definition of bodily harm.

In order for an assault to meet the definition of an aggravated assault, the injury must be much more substantial. Any sort of injury that wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of another meets the definition of an aggravated assault.

The degree of harm caused by an assault will likely dictate the type of sentence imposed by the judge if the accused is found guilty. While some “simple assault” charges may not result in any jail time, an aggravated assault charge may result in a sentence amounting to several years in jail depending on the severity of the injuries inflicted on the complainant.

What are some defences to assault?

An experienced criminal lawyer can identify a number of valid defences to an assault allegation. The following is a non-exhaustive list of potential defences to an assault charge.


For an assault to have occurred, the Crown must prove that the application of force by the accused person was done without the consent of the party to whom the force was applied.

Consent may be expressly given or implied. In many instances, consent is implied and this may be determined from the circumstances surrounding the offence.

Generally there is an implied consent to pat a co-worker on the back or shake hands with a relative stranger. However, fraudulently-obtained or forcefully-extracted consent is really no consent at all. In addition, no one may consent to being killed or seriously injured. Consenting to fight does not normally imply permission to inflict significant bodily harm. Thus where the offender intends, or actually causes, significant harm or death, consent is not a valid defence to assault.

Mistaken Belief in Consent:

Even if the Crown proves that consent did not actually exist, it is still available to the accused to argue that they honestly believed the aggrieved party had consented to the application of force. An honest but mistaken belief in consent will also afford a defence to an assault charge.


The law recognizes that a person is justified in using force or threatening force in certain circumstances to protect either themselves, close family members or their property. The basic rule permits the use of force if the force is reasonable in the circumstances. Whether the use of force is reasonable is entirely fact specific and can depend on a number of different factors. Follow this link for more information on self-defence and the recent changes to self-defence laws in Canada.

What are the penalties for an assault?

The consequences of being found guilty of an assault charge are significant. Upon a finding of guilt, one may receive a criminal record and be sentenced to a period of incarceration in jail. Usually, the greater the harm suffered, the harsher the penalty. Alternatively, the court may impose a lesser sentence including probation with counselling or a fine without jail for lesser offences.

It is important to remember that every allegation of assault is a fact specific inquiry. Consulting a criminal assault lawyer will assist you with identifying potential defences to this type of allegation. Call Daniel Brown at 416-297-7200 for a consultation about your case.