Assault is one of the more serious violations a Canadian can commit, and is classified as a criminal act, which means it will be tried in court. If a conviction is secured, it may result in a criminal record, complete with fingerprint records and other legal processing.
The basic definition of assault in Canada is the intention to apply force to someone else in a direct or indirect manner, without that person’s consent. This is a very important point to note; the threat of assault is all that is required for an assault charge to be legally given. Actual injury does NOT have to occur in order for an assault charge to occur. The most important points of an assault charge are that the person being charged had direct intent to inflict harm, and that the person being harmed did not give consent.
For context, this means that in the case of a typical hockey game, athletes who are body-checked or throw their gloves down and fight amongst each other cannot be charged with assault, or sue each other for personal injury, even though acts of violence are clearly involved. These athletes gave their consent the moment they put on the equipment and stepped onto the rink. On the other hand, a person walking down the street that is suddenly, randomly struck in the face is a victim of assault, and the assailant would be criminally charged.
But even once we’ve pinned down the basic terms of what an assault is, there are still different types of assault in Canada, that have different weights in the eyes of the law.
Many people would be surprised to learn at how broad the definition of assault is in Ontario. For the police to have grounds to lay a charge of simple assault, you don’t even have to touch another person. The mere threat of applying force to another person without their permission is enough for the definition of assault to be met. Under the Criminal Code, an assault is the intentional application (or threat of application) of force to another person without their consent. Therefore, assault does not have to result in physical harm. Related charges include assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, sexual assault and assault peace officer.