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Assault & Threats

An assault is any attempted or threatened unwanted contact against another person. The are three types of assault:

  1. Simple Assault
  2. Assault with a Weapon/Assault Causing Bodily Harm
  3. Aggravated Assault

The types of assault are categorized by the circumstances of the assault and seriousness of the injuries.

If convicted of assault, you may be at significant risk of a jail sentence. You need an experienced lawyer who can confidently defend your interests and achieve the best possible outcome. Our team of lawyers at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence will build a strong defence to give you the best chance of  an acquittal at trial or withdrawal of your charges.


1. I spit on someone. Does this count as assault?

The short answer is yes – spitting in a person’s face or on their body can be an assault.

Assault is defined as the intentional application of force to another person without their consent and can include any attempt to apply force without consent through actions or gestures or threats to apply force. You can be accused of assault even if you did not hurt or even touch the other person. Although spitting on another person may not generally hurt that person, it is a use of force and it may be considered serious due to Hepatitis, Covid or any other transmittable diseases – therefore, if the spitting was intentional and without the other person’s consent, it is considered to be an assault.

2. I didn’t commit this assault. How can I defend myself?

There are several defences available if you are charged with assault. The charges against you are based on allegations made by the Complainant. The Complainant could be someone you know or someone you are unfamiliar with – it is the person who told the police that  you assaulted him/her.

If you are charged with assault, you should speak to a lawyer immediately. Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence Firm will review your file and analyze what the Complainant claims happened. We always try to negotiate options without the need for a trial that will not result in a criminal record. If there is a trial we will ensure you are well prepared and have the opportunity to tell your side of the story.

Outcomes include having the charges withdrawn, a peace bond, an absolute or conditional discharge, or preparing a vigorous defence at trial. You can view “Cases” on the Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence Firm website to see how we have successfully resolved similar cases without a criminal record.

3. I was defending myself – why am I being charged with assault?

Self-defence is one of the most common legal defences to assault. However, self-defence can only be argued in particular circumstances, which are provided under the Criminal Code. These include:

  1. Force was being used against you, or you had reasonable grounds to believe that force would be used against you,
  2. You were only defending or protecting yourself from the use or threat of force, and
  3. Your response was reasonable in the circumstances.

The Judge will also consider the factual circumstances of your case, including the nature of the force or threat, whether there were other means to respond to the use of force, any relationship or history between yourself and the Complainant, whether a weapon was used, the relative size, age, gender and physical capabilities between you and the complainant, and whether the response was proportionate.

You should speak to one of the lawyers at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence Firm immediately if you have acted in self-defence. We know that assaults occur in many different scenarios and we will analyze your case thoroughly to ensure your side of the story is heard.

4. We were both fighting each other. Why am I the one being charged with assault?

The general rule is that when the parties all consent to the use of force, there is no assault. For example, if you and your friend agreed to meet at the park to fight and begin fighting once you were at the park, this would not be an assault because you both intended to use force against each other.

Agreeing to fight does not mean that you agree to everything that can happen during the fight. In law, you cannot consent to “non-trivial bodily harm”. In other words, if the fight results in serious injuries, you may still be charged with assault.

Often, the person who calls the police first is the person that the police side with. If the Complainant told the police that the fight was NOT consensual, and that it was you who were assaulting them, the police may charge you with assault.

If you were in a fight, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Take photos of your injuries and of the scene where the fight happened.
  2. Save any communications, videos, or any statements made by the complainant
  3. Write down everything that happened and past incidents of violence between you and the Complainant, if any.

It is crucial that you consult one of the lawyers at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence Firm before speaking with the police if you have been arrested or charged. We will discuss how to use this information to assist you in your defence.

5. I have been charged with assault with a weapon – what does that mean?

Assault with a weapon is similar to common assault – the crucial difference is the assault happened while you were allegedly carrying, using or threatening to use either a weapon or imitation of a weapon.

6. I have been charged with assault causing bodily harm – what does that mean?

Assault causing bodily harm is a more serious offence than common assault. It means that the complainant suffered injuries of a non-trivial nature. The Courts have considered cuts, lacerations, and facial bruising as injuries that qualify as an assault causing bodily harm.

7. What is the penalty for assault causing bodily harm?

The potential outcomes of a charge of assault causing bodily harm are:

  1. Charges are withdrawn with no criminal record,
  2. A peace bond, where charges are withdrawn with no criminal record,
  3. An absolute/conditional discharge, after a period of probation which results in no criminal record,
  4. Probation with a criminal record,
  5. Conditional sentence order (also known as house arrest), or
  6. A jail sentence for very serious matters.

As assault causing bodily harm is a more serious charge, you will need expert negotiation with the Crown to negotiate a result or strategically conduct a trial that does not result in a criminal record. Your lawyer at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence Firm will strategize with you to ensure you receive the best outcome possible in your circumstances.

8. How is aggravated assault different from simple assault?

Aggravated assault is the most serious type of assault that does not result in death. Simple assault does not require any injury to have occurred. To prove aggravated assault, the complainant must have either been wounded, maimed, disfigured, and/or his/her life was endangered as a result of the assault. For example, if the complainant was stabbed or suffered a broken limb, you may be charged with aggravated assault. You could also be charged with aggravated assault if you attempted to or did cause bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon.

9. What are the potential outcomes for aggravated assault?

If you are found guilty of aggravated assault, there are harsher penalties than with a lesser assault. A conviction will usually result in jail time. This is why you need a criminal defence lawyer who is well-versed in the law of assault to analyze and defend your case. Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence Firm will do whatever we can to minimize the damage and strategize with you to ensure the best outcome.

10. The person I allegedly assaulted is contacting me. What do I do?

In most cases, after you are released by police, you will be under conditions that ban you from contacting the Complainant, even if you live in the same home (such as your roommate). It is important to remember that you are the one who is under conditions not to contact the Complainant – the Complainant is NOT under any conditions not to contact you. Even if they contact you, if you reply, you would be breaching your conditions of release and could get a criminal record.

If the Complainant is contacting you, you should do the following:

  1. Do not respond to the Complainant. They have been told by the police and/or Victim Services not to have contact with you.
  2. Save all communications sent by the Complainant. In particular, you should save communications if they are making threats against you, trying to discuss the situation, or are advising they want to drop the charges.
  3. Do not lose this communication. Send all proof of communications to your lawyer at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence Firm, and ensure you save these communications to your iCloud, Google Drive, or another device.

If the Complainant is contacting you in any fashion, you should speak with your lawyer at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence Firm immediately. We deal with these situations all the time and can help you use these communications to the best of your advantage and in defending your case.

Recently won cases

R v E.T. [Calgary Provincial Court]

Domestic Assault – Result: Charges Withdrawn & No Criminal Record

The client was charged with assault against his former domestic partner. Tonii Roulston reviewed the file and entered into negotiations with the Crown Prosecutor. Tonii Roulston successfully advocated for the client’s charges to be withdrawn upon completion of counselling. The client avoided a jail sentence and does not have a criminal record.

R v W.L. [Calgary Provincial Court]

Assault with a Weapon Result: Mental Health Diversion

Our client was charged with assault by way of intimidating another with a weapon and was potentially up against years of incarceration. Tonii Roulston identified numerous factors that illustrated the vulnerability of our client at the time of the reported incident. Tonii Roulston was successful in negotiating a diversion of counselling as opposed to our client’s case being prosecuted and prevented our client from establishing a criminal record.


R v G.P. [Pincher Creek Provincial Court]

Careless use of a Firearm, Domestic Assault, Possession of a Weapon for Dangerous Purpose and Multiple Breach Charges of Failing to Appear Result: Conditional Discharge

Our client was charged with numerous offences that could have resulted in an extensive serving sentence. In an effort to mitigate the seriousness of the charges, Tonii Roulston evaluated the personal challenges that our client was experiencing and took a firm position that there was an additional and more effective sentencing option that would better suit the interests of our client. Tonii Roulston was successful in negotiating a conditional sentence that prevented our client from being convicted of these charges.


R v C.C. [Calgary Provincial Court]

Assault Result: Charge Withdrawn & No Criminal Record

Our client was charged with committing assault and was potentially up against a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment. Relevant occurrences prior to the offence in question were considered, along with information pertaining to our client’s circumstances at the time of the incident. Tonii Roulston was successful in convincing the Crown to consider all relevant factors in this case. The charge was withdrawn.


R v D.P. [Airdrie Provincial Court]

Uttering threats Result: Charge Withdrawn

Our client was charged with assault by uttering death threats and faced a maximum sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment if the Crown prosecutor pursued the matter by indictment. Tonii Roulston considered all of the relevant factors and assessed the circumstances experienced by our client at the time of the reported incident. By advocating for our client in a manner that illustrated his personal afflictions related to the incident in question, Tonii Roulston successfully convinced the Crown to withdraw the charge.