If you are facing charges for assault, uttering threats, or mischief resulting from minor domestic disputes you need an experienced assault lawyer that can present the best defence possible. These cases all come down to the extent of injury to the injured party, whether or not one party was provoked or not, and the credibility of the parties and can often involve an element of criminal law if the defendant was charged with a criminal offence in relation to the attack. If you think you may be charged in connection with an assault, we advise you to contact our office immediately and seek legal counsel.
A criminal assault is the intentional use or threat of force against another person without their consent. There are three elements required to be proven by the Crown prosecutor. First, the assault must be intentional and not accidental. Second, there must be the application of force or a threat or attempt at the use of force against another person. This means attempted and threatened assaults are still captured by the Criminal Code’s definition of assault. Third, the use or threat of force must be without the other person’s consent, meaning that consensual fight is a defence to a charge of assault; however, no one can consent to serious hurt and so causing such is always criminal.
The Criminal Code allows people to use force in defence of themselves and others. However, there are strict restrictions on when it is legally appropriate to use force against another person. First, the person asserting self-defence must have had a reasonable belief that force or the threat of force was being used against themselves or someone else. Second, the subjective purpose for responding with force must be self-defence or defence of another. Third, the responding force must be reasonable in the circumstances, taking into consideration such factors as: the nature of the force or threat; the person’s role in the incident; the size, age, gender, and physical capabilities of the parties; any history between the parties; the proportionality of the response; etc.
Uttering threats involves the knowing utterance, conveyance, or causing of another person to receive a threat of death or bodily harm. This means that a threat passed through a third party or otherwise indirectly made is still captured. Moreover, the Crown does not need to prove that the alleged victim of the threat understood that they were being threatened – all the Crown needs to prove is that the accused person intended a threat. Not all threats will be captured by this offence, but threats of death or harm are explicitly articulated, as well as threatening arson and harm to animals.
For uttering threats to cause death or harm, the maximum penalty is 5 years ‘incarceration. For assault, the maximum and actual penalties differ dramatically depending on the level of injury caused. For a simple assault in which none or only trivial injury is caused, the maximum penalty is five years’ incarceration. For assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm, the maximum penalty is 10 years’ incarceration. For aggravated assault, in which the victim is wounded, maimed, disfigured, or has had their life endangered, the maximum penalty is 14 years’ incarceration. In reality, persons sentenced of assaults and uttering threats are rarely given the maximums. A person with no record who utters a threat to cause bodily harm may receive a term of community service, while a person convicted of an aggravated assault may receive a significant period of federal incarceration.
A charge of assault or utter threats can have serious consequences on a person without a criminal record, including loss of employment, difficulties travelling, and possibly incarceration. For those with criminal records, the legal jeopardy is proportionately increased. Moreover, assault and threats cases are deceptively complicated. As assault and threats cases often depend on witness credibility, skilled cross-examination will be critical. Moreover, assault and threats cases often involve evidence such as text messages and medical reports, whose admissibility into trial is the subject of technical legal principles. We highly recommend seeking out the advice of defence counsel when charged with crimes violence.
If you have any questions, contact our offices now to speak with a homicide lawyer so we can help address you or your loved one’s legal jeopardy. It’s important to not waste any more time – as key witnesses, evidence, and helpful information may only be available for a short time after an arrest is made. We are available 24/7. We are forceful advocates and we ensure that our clients throughout Alberta are provided with the best defence possible.