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Toronto Assault Charges Lawyer

Simple Assault Charges under Section 266 of the Criminal Code

What is a simple assault charge in Canada?

Simple assault refers to the most basic form of assault charges in Canada. These cases often result in relatively minor injuries if any and do not involve the use of a weapon. It is one of the most common criminal offences in Canada and is sometimes also referred to as a “common assault”. The act of a simple assault is criminalized in Section 266 of the Criminal Code and defined in Section 265 of which reads:

265 (1) A person commits an assault when

      (a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;

      (b) he 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 on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or

      (c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.

When a person is charged by the police with simple assault their paperwork will state they are being charged under Section 266 which is based on the above noted prior section. Section 266 reads as follows:

266 Every one who commits an assault is guilty of

      (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

      (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.      

Like most criminal offences in Canada, simple assault is a Crown elect indictable offence. This means the police have a right to fingerprint the accused and the Crown can proceed either by summary conviction (misdemeanor) or by indictment (felony). How they choose to proceed can impact the maximum possible sentence (6 months vs. 5 years in the prison).

The Crown election will also impact how IRCC will evaluate the case for immigration purposes and other countries such as the U.S. will evaluate admissibility of a traveller at the border. In some cases a lawyer may be able to convince the Crown to proceed summarily and not by indictment.

The broad definition of simple assault in Canada

The Criminal Code is written so that any contact without consent is enough for the police to charge a person. This could be as simple as a push or a shove or, in more serious cases, a closed fist punch, kick, or slap to the face. People can be charged with simple assault even if they do not actually touch the other person. It is enough to make a physically threatening gesture towards a person such as lunging at them causing them to think they will be hit even if they are not.

Many accused are surprised to learn that their actions constitute a criminal offence particularly if they are an immigrant from a country that defines criminal assault differently. This is especially true in cases involving allegations of domestic violence.

How do I know if I am being criminally charged with simple assault?

If you have been given a court date in the Ontario Court of Justice for s. 266 assault of the Criminal Code you are being charged. You will also be fingerprinted and have your mugshot taken or be given a future to attend at the police station or the courthouse (depending on the location) for fingerprints. Everyone charged with assault is fingerprinted and has their mugshot taken under the authority of the Identification of Criminals Act. Fortunately, depending on the outcome of your case you may be able to have this information destroyed afterwards.

There are two different classifications of assault charges: domestic and non-domestic

There are two classifications of assault: domestic and non domestic. In the Toronto area any assault that involves two or more people who are currently in a non-platonic relationship, have been in the past, or met/know each other for the intention of possibly having non-platonic relations are considered domestic. Even if the two people have broken up a long time ago (divorced, separated, etc.) or were never physically intimate before (perhaps just went on a date for a drink) the case will be treated as domestic. Domestic cases are sent to special courts, with special prosecutors, and are treated as more serious. This means they generally take longer to resolve and the Crown Attorney will seek harsher punishments upon conviction.

Non-domestic assaults involve everything else. This includes incidents that occur between parents and their children even if the incident happened in the family home. Non domestic assaults will be sent to the general assignment court with most other crimes (DUI, theft, uttering threats, mischief, etc.). In evaluating what sentence the Crown will seek they will look at the extent of the assaultive behaviour along with the background circumstances that brought it about. A random punch to the head of a stranger would be an extremely serious form of simple assault while a push to an acquaintance following a night of binge drinking would be less so.

How to get simple assault charges dropped

The two main ways to get the charges dropped is for your lawyer to convince the Crown that they have no reasonable prospect of conviction or that it is not in the public interest to continue with the case.

No reasonable prospect of conviction (RPC) relies on challenging the evidence against the accused prior to trial at what is known as the pre-trial stage. This could include unreliability of witnesses, video evidence, or presentation of other witnesses to prove the accused’s innocence. If the Crown does not believe they can win at trial they are bound by policy to drop the charges.

While some cases are dropped because of no RPC, most cases that are dropped/withdrawn prior to trial are done so because counsel is able to convince the Crown that it is not in the public interest to proceed with the charges. There are a multitude of factors that go into this but most commonly it includes the accused taking upfront steps to mitigate any future risk to the victim or the community.

Steps an accused can take up front to help get assault charges dropped

Such steps can include counselling for relationships, anger management, and alcohol/drug abuse depending on the facts of the case. Of course, simple assault cases can range dramatically in terms of seriousness and therefore the more serious ones (multiple incidents, injury, etc.) will be more difficult to have dropped for this reason. Sometimes an accused will perform community service, make a donation to charity, or agree to sign a peace bond as part of the resolution process in exchange for the charges being dropped.

Another factor that matters is where the case is being heard at. We work in all GTA area courts (Toronto, Brampton, Newmarket, Oshawa, Milton, etc.) and they each operate quite independently and view case factors differently. Each court also has different Crown Attorneys who assess case factors according to their own individual criteria. It is important that your lawyer understand which Crown Attorney is best to deal with in your particular case and, if possible, try to deal with them instead of ones that tend to be tougher on crime.

How can a victim/complainant help their partner get the charges dropped?

It is often the case that the victim later regrets calling 911 and talking to the Police because they did not expect their spouse to have to move out and possibly go to jail and receive a criminal record. Please see our page on affidavit services for domestic victims for more information on what you can do to help their case.

Punishment for simple assault upon conviction

Don’t be confused by the word “simple”. Any assault charge is an extremely serious matter. Even first time offenders, who have never been charged with anything before in their lives, can be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison, up to 3 years of probation, and receive a permanent criminal record as a result of a simple assault charge.

In domestic cases, many accused are required by a criminal undertaking or bail condition to stay away from their home and not communicate with their spouse directly or indirectly (through a 3rd party) for many months while their case grinds its way through the courts. Domestic assault cases regularly took over 6 months to resolve prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Post COVID these cases, along with all others in the criminal justice system, take even longer to complete.

In addition to jail and a criminal record, those who are found guilty may also find that their immigration status / IRCC applications have been denied and they may also be unable to travel to other countries such as the United States in the future.

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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  Law and Consequences

  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