The Charge

Assault can be defined as “the intentional application of force to a person without their consent”. Thus, assault charges can be laid in a wide variety of situations ranging from very minor applications of force, like grabbing someone, to much more serious actions, like kicks, punches, and even choking.

When the alleged victim is someone close to you, (like a child, parent, sibling, wife, girlfriend, or common-law spouse), the police, prosecutors, and judges take such allegations VERY seriously. These types of assaults are typically referred to as “domestic assault”. For more information on assaults in a domestic context, please refer to the information under Domestic Violence.

People are also often surprised by the fact that the decision to “drop” the charges does not belong to the complainant. Technically, once the police decide to lay the charges, the complainant becomes just another witness in the case that the police and the Crown Prosecutor are pursuing. The Crown Prosecutor is the only person who can decide whether or not to drop the charges. Crown prosecutors are experienced government lawyers who will only drop the charges if there is (1) insufficient evidence or (2) it would be contrary to the public interest to prosecute. Convincing the Crown to drop the charges requires an experienced and respected criminal lawyer on your side, and Calgary Criminal Lawyers carry that experience and respect into all their dealings with the Crown.

As long as the assault did not occur in a domestic violence context, you may be eligible to resolve your charges without a criminal conviction by entering the “Alternative Measures Program”. This is a program designed to resolve criminal cases without the possibility of being found guilty or getting a criminal record. Even if you plead guilty to an assault, our lawyers may still be able to help you avoid a criminal record by making an application for a “discharge”, which may be absolute, or conditional on you staying out of trouble for a while. These outcomes are reserved for unique situations, and it is important to thoroughly review your particular circumstances to determine if you fit the criteria for this type of resolution.


If you are released while your charge works its way through the courts, you can expect to have the following conditions imposed:

  • No communication with the alleged victim (this includes calling, texting, e-mailing, meeting, or passing messages through another person)
  • A “no-go” condition banning you from going anywhere near the alleged victims’ home or place of work;
  • No weapons;
  • No drugs or alcohol if the police or Judge has reason to believe you were under the influene of intoxicants when you committed the crime).

The Sentence

If found guilty of assault, the possible penalties include the following:

  • Up to five years in jail;
  • Up to three years of probation;
  • Fines of several thousand dollars;
  • An order that you give a sample of your DNA to the Canada-wide DNA Data Bank; and
  • An order banning you from owning any weapons for up to ten years.

In addition, a conviction for assault can have a very negative impact on your ability to find or maintain certain types of employment. Employers are wary of permitting someone found guilty of assault to work with children, the elderly, or other vulnerable sectors in society.

Our criminal defence lawyers custom tailor the approach we take to every case depending on the specific goals of our clients. Whether it be completely avoiding a criminal record; avoiding a finding of guilt on a specific charge; or staying out of jail, we will create the roadmap to give you the best chance possible of achieving that result.