The most common way to be charged with assault is through the intentional application of force to a person without their consent. This can range from the act of grabbing someone, to much more serious actions such as kicking and punching. Although less common, it is important to remember that even gesturing to hit someone or confronting someone while carrying a weapon can constitute an assault.
In addition, assault charges commonly arise out of domestic situations. If your assault charge involves a past or present romantic partner or a family member, please see our domestic violence page for more information.
Investigation of Assault Charges in Regina & Saskatoon
An investigation of an assault allegation in Saskatchewan is typically initiated by the alleged victim (or relative or witness). They contact the local RCMP, or the Saskatoon or Regina Police Service and report it. The police will request a statement from the complainant and any witnesses, then they will launch an investigation.
Because assault is a violent offence, it requires a thorough police investigation. Police will typically interview all witnesses to the offence, review surveillance videos, seize any weapons, photograph the scene, and obtain medical documents to prove the type and extent of the alleged victim’s injuries.
After the police have gathered their evidence, they will arrest you if they believe you are the perpetrator. If you are not present at the scene, the police will track you down or issue a warrant for your arrest.
Even if a complainant makes an allegation of assault that they later withdraw, it is still up to the Crown Prosecutor to decide whether to pursue the charges against you. The complainant can be subpoenaed to appear in court, even against their wishes.
In general, charges are only dropped if:
- There is insufficient evidence; or
- It would be contrary to the public interest to prosecute.
After you have been charged, police will provide a package with all of the evidence they have collected, known as the “disclosure package,” to the Crown Prosecutor. You will have the right to access this 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 Assault Charges in Regina & Saskatoon
How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for assault charges in Regina & Saskatoon?
For most common assaults it is not unusual for police to release you at the scene. Police will provide you with an Appearance Notice document outlining your charges, and any appearances you must make.
If the police feel that your circumstances require more onerous conditions they may require you to sign an Undertaking.
This document will outline your charges and include any specific conditions you must follow, including being prohibited from:
- Leaving the province;
- Alcohol consumption; and/or
- Communication with specific individuals.
Though it is unlikely for most common assault charges, in some cases, a formal bail hearing is necessary to secure your release. Typically, this occurs when the circumstances surrounding the assault are more serious, such as when the assault is domestic in nature.
In the event that a bail hearing is necessary, you will likely be transferred to a provincial correctional facility to wait for your bail hearing. If you are a male, you will be transferred to the nearest of the following: the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre, the Prince Albert Provincial Correctional Centre, or the Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre. If you are a female, you will be transferred to the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert. In some cases, you may be held at the local RCMP detachment or municipal police cells.
The bail hearing can be held within as little as 24 hours, a period of time that starts from the moment of arrest or detention. However, the Crown can request up to three days to prepare for your bail hearing and may ask the court for longer. An effective defence lawyer will ensure that your bail hearing occurs as soon as possible so that you are not in custody for any longer than necessary.
The Regina Provincial Correctional Centre address is:
Regina Provincial Correctional Centre
4040E 9th Avenue North
Regina, SK S4P 3A6
Tel: (306) 924-9000
The Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre address is:
Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre
910 60 Street East
Saskatoon, SK S7K 2H6
Tel: (306) 956-8800
The Prince Albert Correctional Centre address is:
Prince Albert Correctional Centre
3021 1 Avenue West
Prince Albert, SK S6V 6G1
Tel: (306) 953-3000
In Prince Albert, the Pine Grove Correctional Centre address is:
Pine Grove Correctional Centre
1700 7 Avenue North-East
Spruce Home, SK S0J 2N0
Tel: (306) 953-3100
Loved ones are not able to contact you while you are detained. Unless the detained person is a minor, 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.
Given 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 process and communicate with loved ones. After an arrest, the police must provide you with the opportunity to call a lawyer in private. If you choose to exercise this right, the police must stop questioning you until you have had the opportunity to do so.
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 into the correctional centre where you are being held 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-offending?
- Is detention necessary in all the circumstances to maintain confidence in the administration of justice?
Although it is unlikely that you will be denied bail for a common assault, tight restrictions may nevertheless be applied to your release.
Rest assured, we will work to not only secure your release but also ensure the least restrictive set of bail conditions (including the minimum cash deposit) possible.
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 sometimes be difficult in an assault case, but 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. Such reviews are conducted at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Saskatchewan.
Where can I pay bail for assault charges in Regina & Saskatoon?
If you or a loved one are charged with assault in Saskatchewan and granted bail, you may be required to provide a cash deposit to secure release. The mode by which you pay the cash deposit will depend on the courthouse at which your bail hearing is held. Your defence lawyer will advise you on the procedures specific to your location and will be able to explain the options for payment to you, or to a loved one who is making the payment on your behalf.
How do I change my release conditions for assault charges in Regina & Saskatoon?
Release on bail with assault charges may require either a surety, cash or no-cash deposit.
Beyond that, you may face tight restrictions, including conditions to refrain from:
- Using drugs or alcohol;
- Staying out beyond a certain time (i.e. curfew);
- Breaking any laws;
- Possessing weapons;
- Visiting certain places; and/or
The judge may also impose 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 history of drug/alcohol usage;
- Your physical and mental condition;
- The nature of the alleged offence; and
- The likelihood that you will flee.
If you have already been released, at least for the short term, it is critical that you follow your conditions until they can be changed. Breaching the terms of your release can result in further charges or 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 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 Assault Charges in Regina & Saskatoon
Common assault is a hybrid offence, which means that the Crown can elect to proceed by way of indictment or summary conviction. This decision is made based on the circumstances of your case and will impact the severity of the punishment that you are handed. An indictment is the more severe of the two.
For a common assault conviction, you can expect:
- Summary: Up to two years less a day imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine; or
- Indictment: Up to five years’ imprisonment.
In cases of common assault charges, the likelihood of going to jail if convicted is relatively low. The risk of jail time increases dramatically, however, where the assault occurred in a domestic situation, or where you have prior convictions.
In addition to the immediate penalties resulting from an assault conviction, 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 hinder immigration and travel and can raise child custody issues.
For these reasons, even if you intend on accepting responsibility for this type of offence, it is worthwhile to explore your options and consider all 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 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 resolutions page, or read our FAQ on resolutions and other sentencing options.
Defending Assault Charges in Regina & Saskatoon
What are the best defences to assault charges in Regina & Saskatoon?
With assault charges, the defences that may be available to you depend on the facts of your case.
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, applying force to the complainant, or other basic elements of the offence. One such example is:
- Identity: In some circumstances where the offence was not recorded by surveillance footage, or the footage is poor quality, you may be able to raise an identity defence. For example, authorities could have made a mistake in identifying you as the perpetrator based on the poor quality of the footage. In order to effectively raise this defence, you may need corroborative evidence, such as an alibi to show where you were at the time of the offence.
- No Mens Rea/Actus Reus: If you can successfully challenge the mental or physical elements of the assault, you cannot be convicted. For example, if you had consented to apply force, this could challenge the physical element of the offence. It should be noted, however, that no one can consent to bodily harm, such as cuts or broken bones.
- Self-Defence: If you committed the assault in order to defend yourself against an attacker, this will challenge the potential conviction. It is important to note, however, that you must prove that your actions were proportional to the attack you were defending yourself against.
- Defending Someone Else: Reasonable force or the threat of force can also 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 is 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). For example, accidentally bumping into someone in a crowded hallway.
- Consent to Fight: If both parties agreed to enter into a minor confrontation, neither can be convicted of assault. For example, if both parties consent to a fistfight to settle a grievance. Consent cannot be granted, however, if it is obtained by force, threats, fear, fraud, or the exercise of authority. It is important to note that you cannot consent to the infliction of intentional bodily harm.
- Violation of Constitutional Rights: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights, it could aid in your defence.
While the Crown must prove the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt, you may bear the responsibility of raising certain defences at trial. 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 employ, depending on the circumstances of your case.
The availability and strength of any defence depend on the specific facts of your case. Our lawyers have significant experience assessing the availability and strengths of various potential defences in assault cases, as well as presenting any and all available defences to the court at trial. Even if you believe that you will be found guilty, it is important that you obtain a legal opinion about defences that may be available to you.
How can I help defend assault charges in Regina & Saskatoon?
If you have been charged with assault in Saskatchewan, the following can help your lawyer build a strong defence:
- Take detailed notes about your version of events to provide to your lawyer;
- 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 any information that may be of use to your lawyer. What information is relevant will depend on the facts in your case. If you are uncertain about what information to collect, you should contact one of our lawyers immediately to create a plan of action.
To be 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 assault charges in Regina & Saskatoon?
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, photographs, texts, etc. that contradict the allegation and support your defence;
- Gathering evidence from witnesses that support your version of events;
- Identifying mistakes in the actions of the police, such as Charter breaches;
- Uncovering administrative/systemic errors, such as “Jordan delay,” non-disclosure, lost or destroyed evidence, etc.; and
- Finding weaknesses or “holes” in the Crown’s case that may make it difficult or impossible for them to establish the elements of the offence.
Most of the information above relates to simple assault cases, which can still be complex and fact-specific. We have provided 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 assault lawyers to conduct a thorough review of your situation so that we can tailor a strategy that targets your successful defence.
- What is 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?