Assault & Threats
What You Need to Know
Assaults are at the heart of the criminal justice system and represent the most basic of crimes: the infliction of force by one person on another. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, assault covers a wide range of incidents, from something as minor as a bar fight or road rage, to more serious outcomes of severe injuries and the intent to cause harm. At either end of the spectrum, the legal principles are largely the same and the strategies our criminal assault lawyers employ in your defence are similar.
Recently, federal legislation has increased the severity of assault charges by eliminating the possibility of house arrest (often called ‘conditional sentences’) for all assault crimes that result in ‘serious bodily injury’. As a result, assault charges that were previously resolved by way of house arrest are now much more likely to go to trial.
A criminal conviction for assault and/or threats can have significant consequences. In addition to the high probability of jail, you may have restrictions put on your travel or restraining and no-contact orders imposed, preventing you from seeing family or loved ones. You may be prohibited from possessing firearms, or you may be required to provide a sample of your DNA for a national data bank.
A conviction for assaulting a police officer or for resisting arrest can have a huge impact as your record will broadcast on police information systems and can, for the rest of your life, change the way in which the police deal with you.
How We Can Help
Our criminal defence lawyers are qualified to handle assault cases in several ways:
- Alternative Measures Program: If you are charged with a simple assault and there are no injuries on the complainant, a Crown Prosecutor might refer you to the Alternative Measures Program. This is a program that allows you to complete community service in exchange for the charges being dropped. Our lawyers can help negotiate this outcome and guide you through the program.
- Peace Bond: A peace bond is an agreement, typically lasting one year, that you enter into with the Court and promise to ‘keep the peace and be of good behaviour’. There may be additional conditions such as counselling, restraining orders, or no-contact provisions. If you are approved for a peace bond, the criminal charge will be dropped once you enter into the agreement and you will not receive a criminal record.
- Trial: Taking your matter to trial means having the Crown Prosecutor attempt to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Assault and threat cases are almost never cut-and-dry. More often than not there will be evidentiary and legal issues at trial that will give rise to a defence.
If your case goes to trial, the charges against you can be defended in a number of ways:
- Challenging the facts: Assault cases are largely a credibility contest of ‘He said vs. She said’. Coming out with a not guilty verdict in such a case rests heavily with your lawyer’s ability to effectively cross-examine the complainant and any independent witnesses who might seek to implicate you. Our criminal lawyers have years of courtroom experience to be effective advocates for your credibility.
- Interpreting the law in your favour: We can argue the assault laws and precedent cases in a way that will be most favourable to your specific case and fact scenario. This is achieved through careful and diligent legal research and application, which comes with our years of legal experience and understanding of assault in the eyes of the Criminal Code and the courts.
- Violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Talking to the police, giving statements, or providing any kind of self-incriminatory evidence can be detrimental to the outcome of your case. After the fact, our assault lawyers can apply to have this initial evidence excluded by way of an application made under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We understand common violations to a person’s Charter Rights, such as police searching your car without permission, or not giving you the option to call a lawyer. These violations are arguable in the courts, in your defence.
- Sentence: In some cases, the best course of legal action may be to reduce the damage that may be done to you. Not all assault cases are defensible or result in acquittals. In these circumstances our lawyers can help keep your sentence as lenient as possible. This could include any number of possibilities:
- Avoiding a Criminal Record: In less serious assault cases it may be possible to argue for an absolute or conditional discharge if you are convicted. This means that it may be possible to avoid the imposition of a conviction on your criminal record despite the fact that you were found guilty.
- Avoiding jail time: Where jail is a possibility, our lawyers will paint the best picture possible of your personal circumstances in an effort to avoid the possibility of incarceration. Often this will mean you will receive a fine or a period of probation.
- Reducing jail time: In those circumstances where jail is unavoidable the goal will be to keep any potential jail sentence as low as possible to ensure that your freedoms is affected as minimally as possible.
Call us. We can help.
If you’re facing an assault, threat, or extortion charge, give us a call. Our criminal law team in Calgary has the knowledge and dedication to represent you for the best possible outcome.