According to the Code, a person commits an assault when they apply force intentionally to another person, directly or indirectly, without their consent. An attempt or gesture can constitute assault as well, if you had the capacity to apply the force.
Assault is considered “aggravated” when it “wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.” The Crown may not have to prove that you intended to wound, maim or disfigure someone. If the injury caused was foreseeable, and you took the actions despite being aware of the potential consequences, you can be convicted of the crime.
Investigation of Aggravated Assault Charges in Saskatchewan
An investigation into an aggravated assault allegation in Saskatchewan is typically initiated by the alleged victim (or relative or witness). They contact the RCMP or the local police service in Regina or Saskatoon and report it. The police will request a written statement from the complainant and any witnesses, then will launch an investigation.
Because aggravated assault is a serious offence, it requires a thorough police investigation. Police will typically interview all witnesses to the offence, review surveillance videos, seize any weapons involved, photograph the scene, and obtain medical documents to prove the type and extent of the alleged victim’s injuries.
Once the police have gathered their evidence, they will track you down and arrest you if they believe you are the perpetrator. You will be taken to the RCMP detachment or a Police District Office for questioning and processing. The police will then decide whether or not to press aggravated assault charges against you.
Even if a complainant makes an allegation of aggravated assault that they later withdraw, it’s up to the Crown Prosecutor to decide whether to pursue the charges against you. The complainant can be subpoenaed to appear in court in aggravated assault cases, even against their wishes.
After you have been charged, police will provide a package with all the evidence they collected, known as the “disclosure package,” to the Crown Prosecutor. You will have the right to access this disclosure package to see the evidence against you. Once you retain one of our lawyers, we will assist you in obtaining the disclosure package, and we will review it with you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown’s case, as well as any legal defences that may be available to you.
Bail Process and Conditions for Aggravated Assault Charges in Saskatchewan
How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for aggravated assault charges in Saskatchewan?
When charged with aggravated assault, you will likely be kept in custody and require a formal bail hearing to secure your release.
The bail hearing must be held within 24 hours, a period that starts from the moment of arrest or detention rather than the time when you are brought to the Police station or Courthouse.
Loved ones are not able to contact you while you are detained. The police will not release any information to friends or family due to privacy laws. Your lawyer is the only person allowed to contact you. Once the police have verified your lawyer’s details, they will pass on information about your whereabouts, if requested.
Because of these difficulties, while you are held in custody, it is best to appoint a competent defence lawyer as soon as possible to manage the legal processes and communicate with loved ones. After an arrest, the police must provide you with the opportunity to call a lawyer in private and, if that happens, stop questioning you.
Once you retain one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, we will begin working to secure your release on bail.
We will immediately do the following:
- Call in to the district office where you are being held, or the Courthouse if you have been transported, and speak to you.
- Contact the Prosecutor assigned to the bail hearing to start negotiating your release.
- Order and secure a copy of the police information package that details the allegations against you in advance of the bail hearing. This allows the lawyer to make meaningful representations to the court about why you should be released on bail.
- Conduct either an in-person or teleconference bail hearing to secure your release.
When you attend your bail hearing, the Judge will consider the following factors:
- Is detention necessary to secure your attendance in court?
- Is detention necessary to protect the public from a substantial risk of re-offence?
- Is detention necessary in all the circumstances to maintain confidence in the administration of justice?
Due to the serious nature of aggravated assault allegations, the Crown Prosecutor is likely to request your detention until the charges are completed in the court system. Therefore, the Court may deny your release. If you are released, you will likely face tight restrictions (see below).
Rest assured, we will work to not only secure your release but also to ensure the least restrictive set of bail conditions (including the minimum cash deposit).
In order for our lawyers to secure less stringent conditions, the Judge will need to be satisfied that you will attend court as required and that you pose no significant risk of harm to the public. This may be difficult in choking cases, but it is not impossible.
Our lawyers are often successful at persuading the Crown Prosecutor in charge of bail to let our clients out. If we can’t convince the Prosecutor, we can conduct a formal bail hearing and work to convince the Court. Even if you are ultimately detained, we can appeal that decision on very short notice through a bail review, which is conducted at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Saskatchewan.
Where can I pay for bail for aggravated assault charges in Saskatchewan?
If you or a loved one are charged with aggravated assault in Saskatchewan and granted bail, you may be required to provide a cash deposit to secure release. You can pay bail at any court registry (courthouse) in Saskatchewan.
The Regina court registry is open from 8:30 – 4:30 (closed from 12PM to 1 PM), Monday to Friday.
The contact details of the registry office at the Regina Courthouse are as follows:
Regina Provincial Court Office
1815 Smith St.
Regina, SK S4P 2N5
The Saskatoon court registry is open from 8:30 – 4:30, Monday to Friday.
The contact details of the registry office at the Saskatoon Courthouse are as follows:
Saskatoon Provincial Court Office
220 19th St. East
Saskatoon, SK S7K 0A2
For other Court locations and sitting times across Saskatchewan, please see here.
To pay your own bail, you can make a payment after your hearing, assuming you have sufficient funds with you to do so. In Saskatchewan there are a myriad of ways to pay bail, including by money order, certified cheque or debit card (in person). Some courthouses in Saskatchewan also accept electronic payments via wire transfers. We recommend you contact the appropriate courthouse to get the wire transfer details.
How do I change my release conditions for aggravated assault charges in Saskatchewan?
Release on bail with aggravated assault charges will almost always require a surety, cash, or no-cash deposit.
Furthermore, you can expect tight restrictions, including conditions to refrain from:
- Interacting with the alleged victim,
- Attending the alleged victim’s home or place of work,
- Leaving your house (i.e. house arrest),
- Staying out beyond a certain time (i.e. curfew),
- Breaking any laws,
- Using drugs or alcohol,
- Possessing weapons,
- Possessing firearms,
- Visiting certain places, and/or
The Judge can also impose some additional conditions, such as:
- Residing where approved,
- Reporting to probation,
- Attending counselling, and/or
- Maintaining or seeking employment.
A variety of factors will be considered when determining your precise restrictions, including:
- Your criminal history,
- Your physical and mental condition,
- The nature of the alleged aggravated assault,
- The likelihood that you will flee,
- Your history of drug/alcohol usage,
- Whether you have stable employment,
- Whether you have stable living arrangements, and
- Whether you have ties to the community.
If you have already been released, at least for the short term, it is critical that you make arrangements to abide by your conditions until they can be changed. Breaching the terms of your release can result in further charges or a revocation of your bail, as well as a forfeiture of any cash paid to secure your release. It is important to take these conditions seriously.
Once the matter is in court, we can work with the Crown Prosecutor to alter your conditions. This includes either adding exceptions to some of the conditions or eliminating them altogether.
If your court date is far away and you cannot wait until then, we can arrange to have the matter dealt with sooner. Our first priority is always to stabilize your release conditions. That way, you will not feel pressured to plead guilty because of the restrictive terms of your release. Once the conditions are manageable and minimally intrusive to your daily routine, we can focus 100% of our attention on defending the case.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault Charges in Saskatchewan
Typically, if you are found guilty of aggravated assault, you can expect much harsher penalties than with a lesser assault. A conviction nearly always results in jail time.
You can expect:
- Up to 14 years’ imprisonment,
- Up to three years’ probation,
- A lifetime ban from owning or possessing any weapons or firearms, and
- An order that you give a DNA sample to the national DNA databank.
In addition to the immediate penalties resulting from a conviction for aggravated assault, it can also have negative impacts on your future. You may have trouble securing employment in the field of your choice. This is especially the case for roles that require interacting with children, the elderly, or other vulnerable sectors of society. The lifelong criminal record that results from a conviction can also impede immigration and travel.
Therefore, even if you intend on accepting responsibility for this type of offence, it is worthwhile to explore your options and consider all the possible penalties. Often, good representation can result in no criminal record. Furthermore, a community-based sentence may be obtained even where the Crown is seeking jail time.
Rest assured, our lawyers will work hard to defend you so that you are not saddled with the consequences of a criminal conviction for aggravated assault. In fact, we can canvass a range of sentencing options with the Prosecutors that will either leave you with no criminal record or impose minimal restrictions on your liberty after sentencing. To learn more about potential non-criminal resolutions, please visit our FAQ on resolutions and other sentencing options.
Defending Aggravated Assault Charges in Saskatchewan
What are the best defences to aggravated assault charges in Saskatchewan?
There are many defence strategies for aggravated assault. Some defences challenge the element of acting “intentionally,” “recklessly,” or “knowingly.” Others focus on the technical steps taken by the police during the investigation and evidence-collection process.
In general, the best defences are:
- Factual innocence: This is usually the strongest defence because the facts and the evidence do not support you being there, causing the aggravated assault, or other basic elements of the offence.
- Violation of constitutional rights: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights, it could aid in your defence.
- Self-defence: Reasonable force can be used to defend yourself against an unlawful assault or threat of assault, provided you did not intend to cause death or grievous bodily harm. If your actions were taken to protect yourself and were not deemed to be disproportionate or “reckless,” this could aid in your defence.
- Defending someone else: Reasonable force or the threat of force can be used to defend someone else against an unlawful attack, provided there was no intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm.
- Defending property: Reasonable force or the threat of force can be used to defend property, though this may be a weaker defence in many situations.
- Accident: An accidental assault should not lead to a criminal conviction if it was unforeseeable (which you have to prove).
The burden of proof remains high for this kind of prosecution. This means that there are many successful defence strategies that our experienced defence lawyers can take, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Even if the charges proceed and you are found guilty, a good defence can greatly reduce the severity of the consequences (for instance, aggravated assault may be reduced to a simple assault conviction).
How can I help defend aggravated assault charges in Saskatchewan?
If you have been charged with aggravated assault in Saskatchewan, the following can help your lawyer build a strong defence:
- Provide your lawyer with a statement about what happened;
- Collect and maintain all documents and records about the event;
- Gather a list of witnesses that may support your version of events; and
- Log any relevant texts, emails, phone calls or photographic evidence.
As soon as you are released on bail, you should start to gather information that may be of use to your lawyer. If you are uncertain what information may be relevant, contact one of our lawyers immediately to create a plan of action.
If you are truly proactive about the matter, consider doing the following:
- Secure proof of employment;
- Secure reference letters;
- Enroll in counselling (anger management/substance abuse/parenting);
- Secure a record of prescriptions; and
- Secure a record of any mental health conditions you suffer from.
These steps can be very helpful for building an effective defence (or convincing the Prosecutor to drop the charges altogether).
What can a lawyer do to help me defend against aggravated assault charges in Saskatchewan?
As we start preparing your defence by examining police actions and the evidence against you, there are certain defence strategies that can be used to aid your cause, including:
- Assembling documents, photos, texts, medical evidence, etc. that contradict the allegation and support your version of events;
- Gathering evidence that questions the complainant’s credibility (e.g. they have lied before, or have a motive to fabricate events);
- Gathering evidence that questions the complainant’s or witness’ reliability (e.g. they were drunk and/or unable to see or recall events);
- Identifying mistakes in the actions of the police, such as Charter breaches; and
- Uncovering administrative/systemic errors, such as “Jordan delay,” non-disclosure, lost or destroyed evidence, etc.
Below are some notable cases dealing with various aspects of aggravated assault charges:
In R v Godin,  2 SCR 484 the Supreme Court of Canada determined that to make out the charge of aggravated assault, the Crown Prosecutor must establish that the accused could have reasonably foreseen that bodily harm would occur as a result of the assault. It is not necessary for the Crown Prosecutor to prove that the accused intended to wound, maim, or disfigure the victim.
In R v Davidson, 1998 (SK QB) The accused plead not guilty to aggravated assault but plead guilty to the two counts in the indictment of uttering threats to cause serious bodily harm (s. 264.1(1)). The court held the Crown proved beyond a reasonable doubt the offence of assault as defined in s. 265 and a resulting endangering of the life of the victim. The actions of the accused including his jealousy, anger, threats, and finally assaults resulting in the victim’s injuries which left him in a vegetative state were foreseeable and probable consequences. It is not necessary that there be an intent to wound, maim or disfigure (from R. v. Godwin). It is also not necessary that there be an intent to endanger the life of the victim.
Aggravated assault cases are very complex and fact-specific. We have tried our best to provide a general outline of what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of Aggravated Assault Lawyers. We will conduct a thorough review of your situation and tailor a precise strategy that targets your successful defence.
Aggravated Assault FAQs
- What is aggravated assault?
- The victim of the assault changed their mind and does not want to press charges. Can they have the charges dropped?
- What are the best defences to an assault charge?
- How can I get my assault charges dropped?