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Viewing entries tagged with 'assault charges'
Think an assault charge in Calgary is no big deal? A defence lawyer explains why you should think again.
Assault is a far more serious crime than many in Calgary realize. An experienced Calgary defence lawyer lays out the facts you need to know.
Many people in Calgary are unaware of the broad nature of Calgary's assault laws and the resulting ease with which people can find themselves charged with a serious criminal offence. According to Canada's Criminal Code, assault includes such acts as blocking someone's way, making a verbal threat of violence, and brandishing a weapon. No actual physical contact has to take place for an assault to have occurred, according to the legal definition, which means many arguments that get a little out of hand can end up with assault charges being filed.
As a dedicated Calgary defence lawyer, one of the most common charges I encounter is assault. Many of my clients come to me shocked that they have even been charged with a criminal offence, let alone something as serious as assault; often these charges arise from a simple misunderstanding that may have gotten a little out of hand. Yet when an assault charge has been laid against you in the Calgary courts, there is nothing simple or little about your case.
In Part 1 of this article, you learned a fact that might have come as a bit of a shock: of all the crimes defined by Calgary law, more people each year are charged with assault than any other crime. Only traffic violations and some minor "disturbance" crimes are seen more frequently in the Calgary courts than charges for assault.
Most people in Calgary, including those who find themselves charged with a criminal offence, consider themselves productive and law-abiding members of our society. Indeed, most people in Calgary—including those charged with a criminal offence—ARE productive and generally productive and law-abiding members of society. We live in one of the safest and lowest-crime cities in the world, let alone Canada. Yet the Calgary Police and other law enforcement agencies manage to find plenty to keep themselves busy, and that can spell trouble for an unaware Calgary citizen.
In Part 1 of this article, we looked at the assault laws in place in Canada's criminal code and how they might apply to domestic abuse cases in Calgary. You learned that you can be charged with assault if there is any unwanted physical contact between you and your partner, and even if there is a verbal threat of violence or a physical gesture of intimidation. In cases of alleged domestic abuse involving physical violence, assault charges are among the most common laid against Calgary citizens.
In Part 1 of this article, we looked at some of the ways you can find yourself facing a criminal charge due to an alleged incident of domestic violence. Specifically, we looked at Calgary's assault laws and the fact that any unwanted physical contact—and even verbal threats of violence or physical intimidation—can lead to an assault charge. False allegations of abuse may also lead to an arrest by the Calgary Police and the laying of assault charges by a Crown prosecutor.
No one in Calgary wants to be in an abusive relationship. No one wants to find themselves facing criminal charges over a domestic dispute, either, yet the Calgary courts deal with assault charges and other offences arising from alleged domestic abuse cases every day. It's all too possible to find yourself charged with a crime due to a domestic dispute even if no violence occurred, and in some cases even if you are the victim of abuse yourself.
As mentioned before on this blog, the assault laws in effect in Calgary cover a very broad range of behaviors. Any unwanted physical contact could be deemed a crime according to the legal definition of assault, and even threatening or intimidating someone with verbal or physical gestures—without any contact being made—can also rise to the level of criminal assault. It is important to remember that these laws apply to everyone, at all times.
In Part 1 of this article, we examined two incidents involving the Calgary Police in which video shot by witnesses has led to accusations of police brutality/abuse of power and even calls for criminal assault charges against the officers involved. The police have made an initial assertion in both instances that the use of force was justified, though both incidents are being investigated to determine if the actions taken by the Calgary Police officers were indeed warranted.
Two recent incidents involving the Calgary Police have been causing controversy and concern amongst Calgary's citizens. While it would not be prudent for any legal professional in Calgary—a Crown prosecutor, a judge, or a criminal defence lawyer such as myself—to comment on the legal particulars of the two specific incidents themselves, they do raise issues of general concern to Calgary's society at large and its law enforcement and criminal justice system specifically.
No criminal defence case is simple. Though the law often seems straightforward from the outside looking in, any criminal defence lawyer in Calgary can tell you that this is far from the case. The unique circumstances surrounding every criminal charge demands each case and every single person accused of a crime deserves independent attention and analysis, and a defence strategy designed specifically to suit their best interests.
Many assault cases in Calgary involve criminal charges, and can result in a lasting criminal record if you’re convicted. Criminal assault charges can be extremely damaging both to your reputation and your livelihood. Even if you haven’t laid a hand on anyone, criminal assault charges may still be laid against you.
When most people think about "assault," they think about an act of physical violence. They think assault charges can only be laid when there has been an actual physical interaction, whether it’s domestic altercation, a sexual advance, or simply an argument that got out of hand. While these are certainly situations in which charges could be filed, they by no means encompass the entirety of what is considered assault in Calgary.
Simple or common assault is a frequently-laid charge in the Greater Calgary Area, but that doesn't mean it isn't a serious legal charge with serious potential consequences. Make no mistake: if you find yourself charged with simple assault, you could be facing significant fines, probation, and even jail time. For assault charges that are tried as indictable offences, you could even find yourself in jail for years!
Charges for simple assault are all too easy to come by here in Calgary. Simply making an intimidating gesture or verbal threat of violence that you might reasonably carry out could be grounds for a criminal charge, as can having any sort of visible weapon and impeding someone's progress.
The first step in an effective defence is understanding the legal situation you find yourself in when you're charged with a crime.
In Part 1 of this article, you learned about simple or common assault—one of the leading causes for arrests by the Calgary Police and charges brought before the Calgary courts. As you saw in the law itself and a brief analysis, simple assault charges can arise out of any intentional force against another person without their consent, or by making any threats or gestures of violence that look like that they might actually be carried out. Even impeding someone while wearing or carrying a weapon can qualify as simple assault!
Assault is one of the most common charges dealt with by the Calgary Police, and assault charges are one of the most common causes for cases before the Calgary courts. This is due in large part to the broad manner in which the crime of assault is defined—common or simple assault can apply to a situation where someone was simply physically intimidated or threatened via word or gesture without ever being physically touched.
The law defining simple assault in Calgary—and throughout Canada—includes making verbal threats of violence or physical gestures meant to intimidate through the suggestion of violence as actions that can warrant a criminal charge. In other words, you can be charged with assault without actually making physical contact with someone.
Charges of/suspicion for assault remain one of the most common reasons of arrest by the Calgary Police, and common assault cases can be heard nearly every day in the Calgary courts. It's not that Calgary is an especially violent city—in fact, compared to the rest of the world and even the rest of Canada, Calgary is very safe—but rather that the charge of "common assault" encompasses a great deal of behavior we might not typically consider violent or think of as an assault.
Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have had a hard time of things in Calgary, with the city initially barring such services due to concerns that drivers did not possess adequate insurance to cover themselves and their passengers when they were driving as part of their profession/employment rather than operating vehicles as private citizens.
It's all too easy to find yourself facing a common assault charge in Calgary. As you might know if you've read any of my other blog posts on the topic, you can be charged with assault for purposefully touching anybody in an unwanted way, whether or not it causes injury, and even for simply threatening violence with words or gestures.
Criminal defence law in Calgary and throughout the world uses many terms that might be confusing or misleading to the average individual. From Latin phrases that many don't understand at all to common terms that have special meanings in legal settings, the language of a defence case might leave you in the dark or cause you to assume things that aren't actually true.
Assault is a common charge in the Calgary courts, and a frequent cause for arrests made by the Calgary Police Service. This is due in part to the broad range of acts that fall under the legal definition of "assault" including verbal threats and gestures of intimidation that do not result in actual physical violence.
Sexual assault charges are taken quite seriously by the Calgary Police, Crown prosecutors, and the Calgary courts. The law is very clear on what constitutes sexual assault, and the punishments imposed are significant and potentially life-altering for anyone convicted of this crime. It is in every Calgary citizens best interests to know and understand these laws in order to effectively exercise their rights and to protect themselves against potential legal problems arising from their actions.
A sexual assault charge can be a life changing event, no matter what the circumstances of the case or the outcome of any trial or other proceeding in the Calgary courts. Simply being accused of sexual assault can cause deep rifts to form in interpersonal relationships, and can be emotionally, psychologically, and socially devastating.
Every criminal case that comes across my desk as a Calgary criminal defence lawyer—and indeed, every criminal case brought forth in Canada's courts—has certain complexities and considerations that make it unique. Listening to the full facts of every case and investigating every relevant nook and cranny of the law is often what makes the difference between and effective defence that helps those accused of crimes move past their charges quickly, and a lack-luster defence that leave clients languishing with unfair sentences.
This is Part 2 of a three-part article series. For Part 1, please click here.
As we began to see in Part 1 of this article series, the crimes of common assault and sexual assault in Calgary arise in part from the same section of the criminal code, and there are certain similarities in how these crimes are defined, prosecuted, and defended. Any touching of a sexual nature that takes place without appropriate consent from the parties involved is potentially grounds for a sexual assault charge, and gestures or vocalizations implying or threatening sexual assault can also lead to criminal charges.
I've written extensively on this blog about common assault charges in Calgary, sometimes also called "simple assault," and how easily one can find themselves accused of this potentially serious charge. Because it includes gestures of intimidation and even spoken threats of violence in some circumstances, criminal charges of assault are some of the most common charges laid against Calgary citizens every year.
"I'm so mad, I could just kill him."
"I feel like I could kick his butt for what he did."
"Somebody ought to take them outside and teach them a lesson."
This is the second installment of a two-part article on what to do when you've been charged with an assault in Calgary. You can read Part 1 here.
Being charged with a criminal assault in Calgary is all too easy. Knowing what to do when you've been charged is harder. In the first part of this article, I gave you three important pieces of advice if and when you find yourself facing an assault charge:
I've posted several articles on this site detailing just how broad the assault law in force in Calgary is, and just how easy it is to find yourself caught up in a criminal assault case without even knowing you were breaking the law. Any force applied to a person or physical contact with a person that occurs without their consent can lead to an assault charge; even a simple gesture or statement that is interpreted as a credible threat of violence equals the same criminal charge.
Speeding, jaywalking, even littering (my least favorite)—there are plenty of examples of "breaking the law" that even the most law-abiding Calgary citizen has been guilty of at one time or another.
When Calgary Police witness or receive reports of these infractions, people don't end up charged with criminal offences. There may be administrative penalties such as fines or a ticket that requires an appearance in a Calgary court, though many times people are let off with a simple warning and a reminder that the rules are in place to keep our city a safe, secure, and sparkling-clean place for everyone in it. These minor transgressions, which often don't "feel" like they're against the law, aren't seen as a cause for serious concern in most cases, by law enforcement or by criminal justice officials.
A criminal assault charge can arise in Calgary from a variety of circumstances. Domestic conflicts, sports debates that get a little more heated than you intended, even a gesture of intimidation that you didn't intend—the way the law is written, it is easy to stumble into an assault charge practically anywhere. You can even find yourself facing criminal charges simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as when a fight breaks out at a nearby table in a Calgary bar, or when another's violence requires you to defend yourself.
Assault is a broadly defined crime in Calgary and throughout Canada, encompassing all unwanted touching and even including threats of violence, physical intimidation without physical contact, and in some scenarios simply carrying a weapon in a manner that could be perceived as a threat. There are certain circumstances, however, that can result in more specific assault charges, often leading to harsher penalties and a substantially increased risk of serious interruption to your life if you are convicted.
Assault charges are some of the most common charges brought before the Calgary courts, in large part because the law defining assault is both broad and somewhat vague, allowing a number of actions and gestures to result in assault charges—in many cases, even without any physical contact occurring at all.
Assault charges can be brought against Calgary citizens for any number of reasons, and in a wide range of scenarios. From a physical altercation at a sporting event to domestic violence to making threatening gestures in order to intimidate, the variety of incidents that can result in a charge for common assault is immense.
Common assault is, well...common. It's a charge that is laid by Calgary Police against people in a variety of situations multiple times every day, on average, and even the most innocuous-seeming incidents can result in an assault charge. Any intentional and unwanted physical touching is potentially grounds for an assault charge, and even purposefully intimidating body language or the threat of physical violence can, in some cases, lead to an arrest for assault.
As you may already know, it's all too easy to find yourself charged with assault in Calgary. According to the law applicable in Alberta that defines criminal assault, any purposeful unwanted physical contact—or even the threat of physical violence without any contact, in certain circumstances—is grounds for an assault charge.
Assault remains one of the most common reasons for arrest by the Calgary Police, and one of the most common charges to lead to cases in the Calgary Courts. This is in part due to the way the law regarding assault in Alberta, and Canada-wide, is written, in which any unwanted physical contact can be grounds for assault. While accidents such as bumping into someone on a crowded bus won't result in charges, any contact that appears to be purposeful or that suggests a threat of violence—even brandishing a weapon or otherwise physically trying to intimidate someone without actually making physical contact—can result in an assault charge.
Somehow a fight broke out; maybe you were involved, maybe you weren't but somehow you've found yourself in the back of a Calgary Police vehicle and heading off to be processed and charged with assault. You know you need an experienced criminal defence lawyer to help you out, and you know you need one sooner rather than later, but you don't know how to make that first call—or who exactly you should be calling.
"Assault" is a term most people in Calgary probably think they are familiar with, but if pressed to provide the legal definition they would probably be at a loss. In conversational speech, "assault" usually refers to some actual violence that took place—a physical attack, a verbal altercation that one person pushed to blows, or possibly a case of domestic abuse or even a sexual assault.
Facing an assault charge can be an alarming experience. A simple disagreement, argument, or altercation resulting in you being accused of a criminal offence—many of those charged with assault offences in Calgary are so surprised by the suddenness of events and the whirlwind of the criminal justice system that they don't know what to do or where to turn for help in forming a defence against their assault charge.
Violence and gang activity go hand in hand in the minds of many Calgary citizens, who remember the spate of gang-related shootings that affected the city years ago. In more recent times, though, a variety of social programs has helped steer many Calgary youths away from gangs and the violence is all but non-existent.
Despite the changes Calgary has seen, Alberta's laws regarding gang affiliation and violence—especially assault are charges—are very broad, giving Calgary Police and other law enforcement broad licenses to arrest or detain those suspected of either crime. Being charged with a gang-related assault means facing a conviction on two separate crimes, with the penalties pertaining to both, and that's a scenario that is more than plausible given the current state of Calgary's criminal justice system.
Assault comes in many forms, and alleged assaults are responsible for a significant portion of arrests made in the Calgary area every year. Whenever you are charged with an assault, no matter what the circumstances and no matter how legitimate you feel the charge is, partnering with an experienced Calgary criminal defence lawyer is often in your best interests, and can help your assault case proceed with as little stress and disruption to your life as possible.
The Calgary Police lay assault charges against people every day, and the Calgary courts hear defences against assault accusations almost as frequently. Because common assault is so broadly defined and so easily charged, as explained in a previous post it's little wonder that so many assault accusations result in criminal charges.
Sometimes, however, an assault accusation is completely without merit, arising from a fraudulent complaint that can nevertheless result in serious legal problems for the accused. Very little evidence is required for the Calgary Police to follow through with charges if a complaint regarding an assault is made, and though more proof is required to secure a conviction for assault before a Calgary judge, a defence lawyer is still your best bet when it comes to beating a false assault charge.
When a person in Calgary is accused of assaulting someone, there are two basic ways in which the charges can proceed in the courts and the criminal justice system at large: as an indictable offence, or as a summary conviction offence. There are some significant differences in the way these two types of cases proceed, but both can result in a conviction that carries very real criminal penalties along with it.
Assault is a relatively common charge brought before the courts in the Calgary area, and many cases are fairly minor—any unwanted touching, application of force, or threat of force can result in an assault charge, making it all too easy for a non-violent misunderstanding to end up with the Calgary Police Service involved. When an assault case is simple enough, and minor enough, Crown prosecutors can elect to proceed with the charge as "summary conviction offence," in which a trial takes place at the Provincial Court level in front of a Judge alone.
In a previous article, you saw that a common assault charge can arise far more easily than you might think. Any unwanted or nonconsensual touching with demonstrable intent could potentially result in an assault charge—a shove meant without malice in a crowded place, grabbing someone's shoulder in a gesture of restraint, or any other non-violent but unwanted contact can meet the definition of an assault according to the letter of the law.
Every year, the city of Calgary sees over five thousand cases of assault. For one of Canada’s safer cities, this may seem like a fairly high number. However, approximately four thousand of these reported cases fall under common assault. This represents the lowest level of assault charges—a type of charge that is subject to many misunderstandings and potentially mitigating circumstances.
Back in 1983, Ivan Henry was convicted of ten sexual assaults that occurred in downtown Vancouver between 1980 and 1982. He was declared a dangerous offender and imprisoned for an indeterminate sentence. Unfortunately, during Henry’s incarceration, assaults similar to the ones he had been accused of continued; the wrong man had been convicted, and it would take another twenty-seven years before the miscarriage of justice would be rectified.
It was not until 2002 that Vancouver police were able to link another man to some of the assaults with the help of DNA evidence; the man would later plead guilty to the crimes. Due to the similarities between these cases and the crimes Henry had been convicted of, an investigation was launched to determine whether he could reopen his appeal. Finally, in 2010, the British Columbia Court of Appeal entered acquittals on all charges, and Ivan Henry was a free man.
There is no question that being the victim of an assault or any violent crime can be a traumatizing experience. The emotional and psychological impacts of an assault event can last far longer than any physical harm, and it is important that such offences are taken seriously.
It is also important that Calgary, its court officials and law enforcement agents, and its citizens take the defence of those accused of assault seriously, too. The emotional and psychological impacts of an erroneous assault charge can also be devastating, whether the accused was acting in self defence, has been mistaken for the actual assailant, or is a victim of a malicious and unfounded accusation.