What are the best defences to an assault charge?

>>>What are the best defences to an assault charge?

Because every case is different, the best defence to an assault charge will depend heavily on the particular circumstances of the offence. However, the following are some potential defences to the charge of assault:


Consent may be a defence when defending assault charges. The burden is on the Crown Prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person who was allegedly assaulted did not consent to the application of force by the accused person. However, an important limit to this defence is the fact that there is no such thing as consent to bodily harm. Because in law we do not find it permissible to consent to bodily harm, the defence of consent will not operate in any circumstance where there has been an intentional application of force that caused serious bodily harm. For example, you cannot consent to being stabbed or consent to suffering potentially damaging physical harm in the context of a fist fight. This being said, you cannot use consent as a defence if you have been charged with assault causing bodily harm, or aggravated assault.


You are justified in using reasonable force–i.e., as much as is “reasonably necessary” in the circumstances–to defend yourself against an unlawful assault, provided you did not intend to cause death or grievous bodily harm. For this reason, self-defence may also be a defence to an assault charge. However, in order to successfully argue that you acted for the purposes of self-defence, you will need to prove that you had reasonable grounds to believe that force was being used against you or another person, and that you acted reasonably in the circumstances. The reasonableness of your actions will be determined by a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  • The nature of the force or threat used against you;
  • Your role in the incident;
  • Whether anyone was using or threatening to use a weapon;
  • The size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the people involved in the incident;
  • The relationship between you and those involved in the incident; and,
  • Whether the force you used was proportional to the force used by your aggressor. Generally speaking, this defence will not succeed if the force you used was far greater than that used against you. For example, you cannot shoot someone who’s trying to punch you.


If the assault was an accident, you should not be found guilty of a criminal offence as you would lack the mental intent necessary to be guilty of assault. However, in order to raise the defence of accident after you have been charged with assault, you will need to prove that the accident or event was unforeseeable. In law an accident has to be something that happened unexpectedly, outside of the usual course of things, and any harm or loss flowing from the accident had to be unintended and unexpected.

As such, you will not be able to argue this defence if you took an action that had foreseeable consequences, but then tried to pass it off as an ‘accident’. For example, it would not be an accident if you pretended that you were going to punch someone, but accidentally actually ended up hitting them. It is foreseeable that striking the area around another person could result in you actually striking that person, and therefore, the consequence of your actions was not totally unforeseeable.

If you want to raise the defence of accident, you will have the burden of demonstrating that there is an air of reality to the notion that your actions were accidental. If you are successful in doing so, the Crown Prosecutor will only be able to convict you if they can then prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your actions were not accidental.

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Disclaimer: All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided. The results provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

All our 30-60 minute free consultations are conducted with one of our Criminal Defence Lawyers and include the following steps:

  1. Gathering of some personal information about you, such as your level of education, occupation, and citizenship status. This information can be crucial for building your defence and seeking a resolution with the Crown Prosecutor;
  2. Careful review of all documents you received from the police. We will explain what each document is, and what you can expect from and need to do for all upcoming appearances;
  3. Critical review of your recollection of events, and any supporting materials you choose to bring with you. This step helps us identify possible defences and avenues for further investigation; and
  4. Discussion of the court process, our fee structure, and what we can do to help.

Beyond these steps, we would be happy to tell you more about us, and answer any questions you may have. If you chose to retain us to help you, we will immediately provide an overview of what steps we plan to take next, and suggestions as to what you should do to improve your chances of a successful outcome.

For the free initial consultation to be as productive as possible, you should bring (or email in advance) the following materials:

  • A written statement (preferably typed) outlining your version of events;
  • All documents that you have been given by the court or by the police;
  • Any disclosure you have received;
  • Photo ID; and
  • Any supporting documents, such as photographs, emails, texts, phone records, medical records, receipts, etc.

Ideally, you will have prepared a copy of these materials for us to keep, but if not, we can always photocopy them during the consultation.

We offer flexible payment options and structures designed to meet our clients’ individual needs. Our lawyers accept all major credit cards, bank drafts, money orders, email money transfers (e-transfers) and, of course, cash.

If you decide to retain us after the free initial consultation, all we need is a retainer (down payment) to get started. The rest of the fee payments for the case can be spaced out over time. We can set you up on a monthly or bi-monthly payment plan, and process payments over the telephone or by email to make it easy for you.

The cost of a criminal defence lawyer will depend on several factors, including:

  1. how complex your case is,
  2. how serious the charges are, and
  3. how experienced the Criminal Defence lawyer is.

The fees of a competent Criminal Defence Lawyer will typically range into the thousands of dollars. The good news is that only a fraction of that amount is due initially. We offer flexible payment schedules so thefees can be paid in monthly installments.

Additionally, we offer flat rate fees, with no hidden costs. It is our standard practice to review all the costs during the free initial consultation. This means you will know exactly what our services cost at the outset and can make an informed decision about how to proceed.