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Toronto Assault Charges Lawyer

How to press assault charges in Ontario via a private prosecution

Assault victims can press criminal assault charges against someone by themselves if the police refuse to do so.

Victims should see if the police will press charges first before attempting a private prosecution application.

If you are the victim of an assault, the first step to pressing charges is to report the incident to the police. If the allegation is a recent assault an officer will be dispatched to the local to collect statements and other evidence. If the police believe there is enough evidence (sometimes just a witness statement alone) they will charge the accused and place them on no-contact release conditions with the alleged victim. If the case is classified as a domestic assault (involving spouse, partner, or ex), Ontario police will almost always press charges if an allegation is made due to current domestic violence (aka intimate partner violence) policies.

If the allegation is historical in nature, the police will also want to obtain a statement from the victim and gather any other evidence that may be available. They may also attempt to talk to the suspect to gather more evidence in support of their case. There is no statutory limitation period on assault charges in Canada. Assault is a Crown elect hybrid indictable offence therefore no limitation period applies (could have happened decades ago and often does in sexual assault related cases).

What can I do if the police won’t press charges against the assailant?

While police are normally fairly quick to charge, particularly in domestic cases, they don’t always do so. There will be some complainants whose stories are not believed by the police particularly if their investigation reveals exculpatory evidence. Sometimes the behaviour that is reported, while abusive, may also not be judged not to be a criminal offence.

If the police refuse to press charges against someone, a victim has several other options to consider. They may:
  1. contact a civil lawyer regarding a possible lawsuit
  2. apply for a peace bond against the person to legally keep them away from them
  3. begin a private prosecution in court to press criminal charges themselves
Many victims are unaware of the 3rd option available which is to press criminal charges against the accused themself via a private prosecution application.

What is a private prosecution?

A private prosecution is when the accused themselves files the paperwork with the court to have the accused criminally charged as opposed to the police. Private prosecution applications will be assessed by the Crown Attorney who, similar to any other criminal case, will take over the prosecution of the offence. The Crown also has the option not to proceed and will evaluate each case on its merits the same way they do when a case is submitted to them by the police.

A victim who wants to press charges through a private prosecution can also submit an 810 peace bond application and pursue a civil claim against the assailant if they wish to do so. These are three separate things that are not mutually exclusive.

How to know if an assault occurred or not?

The definition of assault is found in s. 266 of the Criminal Code and is quite open ended. Any application of force without consent could be an assault. Even a gesture that causes someone to react defensively could be classified as an assault despite no physical contact being made whatsoever. No injury or weapon is required. A lot of cases are nothing more than a grab on the arm. This being said, police still use some discretion and may deem something too minor to lay charges.

If you feel like you have been the victim of an assault ultimately it is up to the legal system to decide whether someone can be held accountable for it. If the police are unwilling to lay the charges, the victim may decide to do so themselves instead. This will bring their case within the criminal court system to determine the outcome.

Does verbal abuse count as an assault?

Sometimes the abuse that occured is “verbal only”. The victim may have suffered a tremendous amount of mental damage as a result of the abusive behaviour however the perpetrator may not have ever actually assaulted them. In these circumstances, sometimes other charges such as uttering threats, mischief, or extortion may be more appropriate. Don’t think that just because an assault was not committed that no criminal offence took place. There are many forms of abusive behaviour that charges can be laid for.

Either way, if the police will not press charges, the victim still has the option of a private prosecution application for whichever offences encompass the abusive behaviour.

It is important that a private prosecution be handled correctly and not in a way that could potentially get you in trouble. The job of the victim’s lawyer is to represent your interests throughout the private prosecution process. The goal is to secure a successful prosecution of your assailant. It is also critical that your lawyer ensure that you do not violate the law yourself during the application process. It is the assailant that ought to get in trouble for what happened, not you (the victim).

If you are looking to hire a lawyer to submit a private prosecution application in Ontario, please give us a call today for a free no obligation quote. For more information about this process, please see our page on private prosecutions in Ontario.

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