Whether it was done on purpose or as a result of aggravation, assault is always wrong and can have severe consequences for both the offender and the complainant. And, if found guilty, one can face several penalties and punishments, along with a criminal record, based on the kind of assault.
Among all kinds of assault, simple assault comes with minimum punishment, depending on the nature and severity of the case. In the following article, we will discuss about what is simple assault and other important topics one must know about.
Let us begin the discussion with the definition of simple assault:
What is Meant by Simple Assault?
Simple assault is the most fundamental assault offence in Canada. Also widely known as the common assault. It happens when there no kind of weapon is used, and the complainant just sustains minor wounds.
It can be charged as either an indictable offence or a summary conviction. In the event of a summary conviction, the charges are considered less serious, and the judge will be able to handle the case without needing a jury or jail time.
However, in case of an indictable offence, the court hearings will be more serious and formal compared to the summary conviction.
If you are involved in a physical fight with another individual, you could be charged with a number of offences. Such as, in some cases, you can be accused of a crime without speaking to the victim directly.
For instance, you can be accused of simple assault in the following two scenarios:
- Failed Battery Effort: You made an attempt to hurt someone else’s body seriously. An illustration of this would be trying to strike someone yet failing to make physical contact with them.
- Threatening Act: You committed a threatening act by making someone fear or worry about an upcoming battery. This can be demonstrated, for instance, by threateningly waving your hands toward someone that they feel endangered. Verbally threatening also falls under this category.
Punishment for simple assault
The longest serving period of imprisonment for simple assault is usually six months. However, if you are charged with an indictable offence, you might face a jury trial in the Supreme Court along with a maximum imprisonment of five years.
3 Core Elements of Simple Assault to Know
If you are accused of assault, a judge will be appointed to your case, and if the allegations are not dismissed or you do not accept a plea agreement, your case will finally proceed to court. To secure a conviction, the prosecution in your case must establish each element of the offence.
While the components can differ from one state to another, the components of simple assault typically consist of the following three:
The offender must have intended to intimidate or fear someone into thinking they will suffer bodily injury. It is typically met with a certain action, posture, or set of phrases. The threat will probably not qualify as an impending threat if the victim isn’t really aware of it.
That is, the victim must perceive an actual threat from the deed, expression, or language as well. Such as, the victims received similar kinds of death threats like the following:
“In just exactly one year, counting from today, I will come back for you, and no matter where you reside, you will be finished by my very own hands.”
2. Reasonable apprehension
Here, by the reasonable apprehension, it is meant that the victim has to believe the accused can injure or threaten them. The threat will not have produced a justifiable level of concern, and this need will not be met if the victim does not believe the threat to be genuine or personal.
The victim must truly suffer some sort of injury and pain. Such as, you might experience this if you receive or overhear someone threatening to hurt you violently and thus begin to feel anxious and concerned about it.
Well, this is normal human nature, and you can’t simply stop worrying about it, especially after knowing your life is in danger.
If any of these criteria isn’t proven by the prosecution, the offender should be declared as not guilty. And in case you are found guilty, you will accordingly receive a punishment for the crime, depending on the rules and regulations of your state and the seriousness of the offence.
In most of the states, a simple assault is deemed as a misdemeanour, with penalties including parole, financial penalties, or imprisonment.
Are There Any Kinds of Defence to Simple Assault? [6 Types]
Yes, indeed. Just like any kind of crime, you might have certain defences at your disposal to disprove the charges. But then again, the existence of these defences will be governed and depend on your state’s rules.
Below is a list of some of the common defences to simple assault:
1. Self-defence of defence of others
You acted in self-defence to keep yourself or another person safe when the offender attempted to hurt you or them.
2. Defence of property
This kind of defence refers that you took action on your very hands just to safeguard your assets. This defence is uncommon and typically more difficult to use than self-defence.
3. Mistaken identity
The crime was not done by you. Instead, you are falsely alleged of committing the crime of someone else’s.
You can claim that you didn’t mean to conduct the attack. That is, the assault was totally unplanned and the result of a sudden mishap. All the harm and damages were brought about by accident. There was nothing you could have a control over.
If the complainant gives their consent and says you are responsible, you will still have the full freedom to claim and fight that you are not responsible for the offence.
6. Failure to prove one of the elements
This basically refers to the fact that there was no evidence of malicious intention, convincing suspicion, or real danger to the complainant. Instead, it was all made up, or someone else was behind it.
Therefore, if none of the requirements were satisfied, then the charges must be dropped under these circumstances.
Different States Have Different State Rules!
One crucial point to note is that not all situations call for the use of self-defence. Instead, each state has different kinds of laws defining what constitutes “legitimate” self-defence.
For instance, several states demand that you make an attempt to depart or that you take certain measures to calm things down. However, some states eliminate that criterion under particular conditions based on the assault’s nature and severity (such as using a hazardous or deadly weapon in the attack).
Hence, if your condition doesn’t qualify as self-defence in accordance with your state’s definition of the term, make sure to consult with an experienced lawyer before going ahead with the case.
How Does Simple Assault Differ from Other Related Crimes?
Simple assault is not the same crime as aggravated assault. Instead, the aggravated assault is a more severe offence, coming with some serious punishments and penalties as well. Several states frequently categorize it as a felony assault and carry potential imprisonment.
To qualify as an aggravated assault, a dangerous weapon like a firearm or a knife) must have been used by the defendant during the assault to cause substantial bodily damage to the victim’s body.
While some states distinguish between aggravated and simple assault as two different offences, others may combine the two into a single offence with distinct features.
The term Assault is sometimes associated with Battery, which happens when someone exerts a forcible and unlawful force against the other individual. This, in turn, results in some repulsive contact or bodily harm.
In most cases, an individual who is accused of Battery also can face assault charges. On the contrary, an individual can only face an assault charge without necessarily facing a battery charge.
Do I Need Legal Help for My Simple Assault Charge?
Of course. It is in your best interest and the smartest move to take the burden off your shoulder. These kinds of charges can be a lot to take, especially for the ordinary people who have no understanding of the law terms.
That’s why, for anyone who is charged with a simple assault must consult with an experienced lawyer. As only they can guide and save you from all the stresses and hassles which come with an assault case. Besides, with a lawyer’s support, your chances of winning in the court increase manifolds.
And if there are any defences that might be used to help you have the charges dropped, a lawyer is the person on whom you count. As from analyzing your case to making that determination—they can play quite a big role in that situation.
Additionally, a lawyer may attempt to negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf in an effort to keep you out of jail.
To Wrap Up
That’s all from the detailed discussion regarding “What is Simple Assault?” No matter what kind of assault has taken place, an assault is an assault. And it will be going to have severe consequences.
Therefore, if you or your loved ones are going through any such phases, make sure to get in touch with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. As only they can be your true saviour at this difficult time of life, making the path simpler and hassle-free.
Check out the below queries in case you have anything to clarify about regarding simple assault in Canada:
How much is an assault charge in Canada?
The seriousness of the charges ranges from simple to aggravated. If found guilty, a summary conviction carries a potential $5,000 fine and/or six months of imprisonment. On the other hand, in the case of an indictable offence, the maximum prison sentence is five years. Therefore, never take assault charges casually.
What is assault in Canada?
According to section 265 of the Canadian Criminal Code, an assault is deemed as a criminal offence. An assault happens when someone deliberately uses violence against another person without that person's permission, either through direct or indirect means. There are different kinds of assaults that can happen.
Can someone go to jail for assault?
Any kind of violent crime that causes harm is considered a simple assault. It doesn't necessarily require physical contact or injuries on the victim's body directly. That is, even making hand gestures or shouting to intimidate someone else can be considered an assault.
How does an assault charge affect your life?
The result of an assault conviction will significantly change your life. It's most likely to result in a criminal record and prison sentence. It may also affect your chances of finding employment, your freedom to travel, and several other things.