I have been charged with assault, what next?

Assault charges can arise out of any number of circumstances, such as an argument with a domestic partner, a dispute with a neighbour, or a fight outside a bar.  The offence of assault is widely defined.  It includes any circumstance where a person, without the consent of the other person, applies force intentionally to that person, directly or indirectly.  It also includes certain situations where no actual force is applied.  An assault occurs when a person attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe upon reasonable grounds, that he has, present ability to effect his purpose.

Common defences to an assault charge include:

  • consent;
  • self-defence;
  • accident;
  • no assault occurred; and
  • de minimus (the assault was too minor)

Whether any of these defences apply will depend on the particular circumstances of the case and can best be assessed by a lawyer.  In some cases, an assault charge may be withdrawn in exchange for a person entering into a peace bond, which is a form of restraining order.

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