As a violent crime, assault charges are very serious.
An assault is committed any time one person touches another with the intent to apply force without that person’s consent.
To prove an assault charge, the Crown must prove that you were the person who committed the assault, that you applied force on the victim, and that you intended to apply force. If you acted out of reflex or carelessly you cannot be charged with assault.
Types of Assault Charges
In Moose Jaw you can be charged with three levels of assault.
Common assault is the least serious assault charge. A common assault results in few or light injuries. This classification of assault covers pushing, threats, slaps, or other “light” forms of assault.
Assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm is a far more serious charge. This means you have caused any hurt or injury to a person which interferes with the health or comfort of that person that is more than merely transient or trifling in nature. If you bruise someone, break their bones, or send them to the hospital you could expect to be charged with this form of assault. The use of a weapon also makes an assault charge more seriously, whether the individual was physically harmed or not.
Aggravated assault is the most serious charge. A person can be charged with aggravated assault when the victim is wounded, maimed, or disfigured, or when their life is endangered. Any serious injury will result in a charge of aggravated assault.
Assault charges also become more serious in any situation where it can be classified as a domestic assault, or in any situation in which you have prior convictions for any crime.
Is Consent Always an Effective Defense?
No. There are circumstances which make consent impossible.
For example, if you are in authority over another person then they cannot give meaningful consent to an exercise of force. Neither can a person who has been intimidated by threats or fraud, or who has reason to fear you.
Consent generally covers a pair of individuals who agree to have a fist fight to settle some matter, people who entered into that fight freely knowing the risks. Those people have to be roughly equal in power and authority. It also may cover physical contact in sports, such as when you body check another player while engaged in a hockey game.
Also keep in mind that you cannot consent to intentional, extensive bodily harm. If you put your street fight partner in the hospital then consent will not be a valid defense. The same is true if you continue to punch a fight partner who has gone unconscious or who has stopped fighting back.
There are always limits to the consent defense in assault cases. Much usually depends on the amount of damage done and the viciousness of the attack.
Self-defense can be an affirmative defense against assault. In Saskatchewan, you do have the right to fend off an attacker. You even have the right to defend others.
In order to use this defense effectively, your lawyers must prove that the force you used was proportional to the threat. For example, if you take a baseball bat and beat someone who merely threatens you then self-defense won’t be an effective defense. If someone came at you with a baseball bat and you ducked the bat and punched the attacker with your fist then your response probably was proportional.
Obviously the use of this defense is very complex, and will take a skilled trial lawyer who can help you make the facts of the case work for you.
Quite a few of our clients have been surprised to learn that they’ve been charged with assault. Any threat can open you up to an assault charge. Yet some of our clients got charged for words they never meant as a threat.
There are three types of threats:
- Threats to cause death or bodily harm to any person.
- Threats to burn, destroy, or damage the real or personal property of any person.
- Threats to kill, poison, or injure an animal or bird that is the property of any person.
Fortunately the Crown must prove that you meant for your words to be taken seriously as a threat. If your words were innocent or the alleged victim is reading into what you said, we may be able to demonstrate this to the prosecutor to get your charges dropped, dismissed, or reduced.
What are the Penalties for Assault in Moose Jaw, SK?
In Moose Jaw you can be imprisoned for up to 5 years or be charged with up to a $5000 fine, depending on the severity of the charges. In addition, receiving a criminal record can have lifelong consequences that can make it very difficult to secure employment or to find housing.
In addition, an assault charge may impact your ability to travel and enter the United States, even decades into the future.
You can’t afford to face your assault charge without a strong criminal defense lawyer by your side.
Our team of diligent defense lawyers have decades of experience helping Moose Jaw residents defend against assault charges. We are committed, responsive, and empathetic. We’re not here to judge you: we’re here to defend your rights.
We thoroughly investigate your case and evaluate every potential angle for your defense. We help you strategize and give you the advice you need to navigate your assault case. We will work hard to build a strong case so that we minimize or eliminate the consequences of your assault charge. We are fully prepared to defend you at trial.
We’re also more affordable than you think, especially when you weigh the cost of our services against the long-term consequences of an assault conviction.
If you or a loved one needs help, contact Moose Jaw Criminal Defense Lawyer at (306) 634-7777.