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Toronto Assault Charges Lawyer

Common Assault Charges in Canada

Common assault refers to charges under Section 266 and 265 of the Criminal Code and can be domestic or non-domestic.

Common Assault is a term that is used to describe charges of assault under Section 266 of the Criminal Code. While the Code does not specifically define what forms of assault constitute a “common assault”, it is generally accepted to be an assault that does not involve a weapon, result in a serious injury (aggravated), or result in bodily harm.

This means a common assault could be a grab of an arm, a push, shove, slap, punch or kick that causes a relatively minor amount of pain or injury. The result of a common assault is normally a bruise, scratch, small cut, or perhaps something that does not leave any mark at all on the victim’s body. No injury is required for a person to be criminally charged, particularly in a domestic context.

Charges will often stem from drunken arguments, fights, jealous (for lack of a better word) partners or ex’s, and matrimonial disputes. If the victim and the accused are currently or were associated with each other in the past in any non-platonic way the case will be considered a “domestic assault”. In domestic cases the police are required to press charges (no discretion) and Ontario Crown Attorneys operate under strict policies to proceed with the prosecution in court. Even in cases where no sexual activity ever took place it will be considered a domestic violence case if the victim and the accused were together or knew each other for non-platonic reasons.

All it takes is for someone to accuse you of common assault and the police will almost always press charges. Them just saying you did it to 911 or the police in Ontario is enough to charge particularly in a domestic context.

If you meet someone on a first date, perhaps from online dating, and they later say to the police that you touched them without consent you will be charged with a domestic assault. This could be as simple as a touch on the leg or arm. The accused may also be charged with sexual assault in this circumstance. The police will often lay the most serious charge they can (such as sexual assault), but when the case goes to court the Crown Attorney may offer to drop it down to a common assault if the defendant is willing to make a deal or they do not believe they can secure a conviction for sexual assault at trial.

Assault charges can be laid even without any physical touching at all if the accused causes the victim to react to potential physical violence. If you lunge at someone or approach them aggressively and cause them to be fearful or react defensively that is enough for the police to charge you with common assault.

Penalties, consequences, and punishments for common assault

The maximum punishment for common assault is 5 years imprisonment in Canada. Most first time offenders will not receive a 5 year sentence. They do risk going to jail, being subject to house arrest, being placed on probation and receiving a criminal record that will show up on employment background checks, cause problems travelling to other countries such as the U.S., be denied entry to various regulated professions (engineers, nurses, psws, etc.), and cause immigration problems with IRCC such as denials, deportation and inadmissibility to enter in the future if the person is not a Canadian Citizen.

How do I know if I have been charged with a common assault?

If you have been fingerprinted or been given a fingerprinting date in the future by the police or the courts (after bail) and a court date you are being charged. Most people will receive a Form 10 Undertaking with additional conditions such as not to contact the victim or attend at certain places where they are known to frequent. This is often problematic because the accused may have to move out of their home in a domestic case and not talk to their partner who they often share finances and parental responsibilities with. In workplace related assaults the accused may be forbidden from going back to work but often they have already been fired as a result of the incident.

The charge is usually listed on the paperwork as assault s. 266 or sometimes as s. 265. Section 265 defines what constitutes a common assault whereas section 266 details the maximum penalties. While most people will have a Form 10 Undertaking with a fingerprinting date and court date, some people may receive a Form 9 Appearance Notice, a Form 6 Summons, or a Form 11 Release Order. Regardless of what paperwork is provided (Form 6, 9, 10 or 11) the person is being criminally charged in all of these circumstances.

What is the difference between an indictable offence and a summary conviction under Section 266 (a) and (b)?

Like most offences in Canada assault is a Crown Attorney elect (they choose) hybrid offence. It is up to the Crown how they proceed. A summary conviction, which is also known as a summary offence or an election to proceed summarily means the maximum sentence is 6 months in jail and 3 years probation. If the Crown elects by indictment the maximum sentence is 5 years in jail if the accused is found guilty.

While Canada uses the words summary (summary conviction, summarily) and indictable (by indictment) some people may be more familiar with the comparable U.S. terms of misdemeanor and felony. Most cases of common assault will be preceded by way of summary conviction if the accused is a first time offender or does not have a prior criminal record. If the charges were laid more than 6 months after the offence date the Crown Attorney must proceed by indictment unless the defence consents to them proceeding summarily instead.

It is also important to note that the term “summary conviction” is somewhat misleading. This is because an accused after being found guilty (via trial or pleading guilty) may be sentenced by the judge to an absolute or a conditional discharge which is not considered a conviction or criminal record in Canada. The Crown Attorney can proceed by summary conviction, you can be found guilty of the offence, and then possibly receive a discharge which is a non-conviction.

A summary election reduces the likelihood of not being allowed to travel to the U.S. in the future because of the charges.

Sometimes cases can also be dropped (withdrawn). This may be done in exchange for signing a section 810 or common law peace bond. In any case, it is always best for your lawyer to try to get the Crown to elect summarily as it reduces the likelihood of having problems crossing the U.S. border because of being charged. U.S. Customs (CBP) can deny entry to anyone who admits to or is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude (such as domestic assault). U.S. immigration law (INA) does make an exception for admitting to or being found guilty of crimes of moral turpitude where the maximum possible punishment is less than one year in jail.

While someone charged with common assault in Canada is subject to a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, if the Crown Attorney eventually elects to proceed summarily they can argue the maximum possible penalty is 6 months in jail at the time the case completed (via a sentence from a judge or having been withdrawn) which is within the range of the exception. The U.S. considers common assault to be a moral turpitude offence if it is committed in a domestic context. A person does not necessarily need to be found guilty or convicted to be denied entry.

If I receive a court date for assault what should I do?

If you have a court date, you are being criminally charged. Your case will go to court and be dealt with by the criminal justice system. It is in your best interest to hire a criminal defence lawyer immediately who focuses on assault cases. The victim cannot decide to drop the charges because this is the sole decision of the Crown Attorney. While the victim is no longer the decision maker their input is highly relevant and therefore sometimes they will choose to create an affidavit to help their spouse regain contact and avoid a criminal record.

Most common assault cases are domestic in nature and often the victim/complainant changes their mind after the argument settles down and they realize the tremendous seriousness of the situation such as the no contact orders and potential of a criminal record. They wanted him to leave for the night or go away when they called the police, not have no contact for months on end and have him receive a career ruining criminal record. Often the accused also has parental responsibilities and it is extremely important that they have access to their children and the ability to support the family financially or pay child support if the relationship is over.

I want to get some counselling, regain contact, go home, and try to resolve my case. If I hire a lawyer will this make my spouse or partner more upset?

In domestic cases sometimes the accused will be apprehensive about hiring a lawyer because they assume this means the lawyer will make life very difficult for their partner/ex/etc. This is not true at all. In fact, most domestic common assault cases resolve without a trial. The lawyer’s job is to protect the accused legally and ensure that everything is done to obtain the best possible outcome for their case.

When you get charged with assault the end result of the case is permanent and it is very easy for an accused to make a mistake thinking they are handling it the right way. Self-represented individuals often learn later that they did not get the best result, or that they were convinced to agree to a deal by people working for the government that was not as good as it should have been. When the charge shows up on background checks, results in them being denied at the U.S. or other international border, causes their IRCC immigration application to be rejected, or results in myriad other potential problems they often later learn it is too late to fix these mistakes.

Whether the person is old or young, rich, middle class or poor the police will almost always press charges if someone reports being assaulted.

People from all socioeconomic and personal backgrounds are charged with assault in Canada. Most of our clients are first time accused who do not already have a criminal record. The majority of them are people who have jobs or are in school (international students, workers, or permanent residence (PR) holders from India, China, the Phillipeans etc.). Everyone is at a different stage in their life. Some are retired, but most of our clients charged with common assault working middle class people, students, and those who are well off. This means they have a lot to potentially lose when they get charged by the police.

While a lot of people in the criminal justice system are unemployable, homeless and suffer from alcohol and drug addictions and/or mental health problems this is certainly not true for everyone. Many people charged with common assault live completely normal, productive lives. Criminal charges are life changing events and nobody is immune to losing everything. For this reason, it is important to do everything you can to legally protect yourself from a criminal record so that future opportunities are not lost due to you being permanently labelled by society as a criminal.

Not having the court case handled correctly from the start by a criminal lawyer can result in lifelong problems.

A lot of the marginalized people with seemingly not much left to lose are in that position in part because they have a criminal record. In some cases they may have been able to avoid this if they had a private lawyer representing them instead of trying to navigate the system by themselves and/or relying on advice from government paid employees that are encouraged to move cases along as quickly as possible. Some accused feel they did nothing wrong, or made a minor mistake, and that all they have to do is go to court on their own and try to explain themselves. This is a decision that they often end up regretting for the rest of their lives.

They may end up taking a deal they think (and are told) is in their best interest when in fact it is not. When their employer or school finds out, or when they get refused entry to the U.S., or have their IRCC immigration application being rejected they realize the seriousness of their mistake and reach out for help but unfortunately at that point it is often too late. What they needed was a lawyer to properly represent them back when they were first charged.

It is always better to be proactive and avoid problems to begin with rather than trying to correct them afterwards. Most problems associated with criminal charges are irreversible therefore an accused should do everything they can to avoid or reduce the likelihood of them happening while they have the chance to do so. This means as soon as they are given a court date or are contacted by the police asking them to attend at the station they should seek legal advice from a lawyer immediately.

If you are charged with a common assault, whether domestic or not, give us a call today for a free consultation. If you are the victim (complainant) in a domestic common assault case and are looking to help your spouse or partner get their charges and the no-contact provisions dropped please see our page on affidavits of non-prosecution or for even more information our FAQs about victim supporting affidavits.

Call us today for a free assessment

You don't have to jeopardize your future or waste thousands of dollars on excessive legal fees. Our goal is to have the charges withdrawn and the release conditions varied to allow contact without a risky and unnecessary trial. We provide effective and affordable lawyer representation for those charged throughout all of Ontario, Canada.

You don't need to be apart from your spouse and family, spend tens of thousands of dollars, and risk getting a criminal record because of an unfortunate domestic incident. Have a skilled criminal lawyer protect you and your future from the stigma and consequences of a criminal record.

    call us: 647-228-5969


  call us: 647-228-5969


Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. For more information about our lawyer, click here.

We provide our clients with:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • US travel advice and information
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Clear goals of getting charges dropped and bail conditions varied without a trial
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are the alleged victim, and are looking to help your spouse/partner's case, please see our affidavit services page here.

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance with U.S. travel, immigration, employment background checks, and avoiding a criminal record. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed. We also only take calls/emails relating to Ontario, Canada area cases.

Are you a lawyer? If you are defending a domestic assault/uttering threats/mischief related case and are looking for expert advice regarding possible defences, case strategies, and information release management call us at: 647-228-5969.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only.


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  We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel