Your Guide to Aggravated Assault Charges by Aggravated Assault Lawyers in Victoria
Table of Contents
- What is Aggravated Assault?
- Investigation of Aggravated Assault Charges in Victoria
- Bail Process and Conditions for Aggravated Assault Charges in Victoria
- Penalties for Aggravated Assault Charges in Victoria
- Defending Aggravated Assault Charges in Victoria
- Further Reading
- What’s Next?
- Aggravated Assault FAQs
What is Aggravated Assault?
Aggravated assault is the most serious of all assault charges. The provision for aggravated assault in the Criminal Code of Canada is:
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 Victoria
An investigation of an aggravated assault allegation in Victoria is typically initiated by the alleged victim (or relative or witness). They contact the local Victoria, Saanich, or Oak Bay police service and report it. The police will request a written statement from the complainant and any witnesses, and will then 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.
There is no specialized police unit to deal with these types of charges. However, with three distinct jurisdictional police forces, the greater Victoria area has a lot of resources to devote to aggravated assault investigations.
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 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 Victoria
How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for aggravated assault charges in Victoria?
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 district office or Courthouse.
On a weekday, you will be transferred from the district office to the Victoria Courthouse for your bail hearing. The address of the Courthouse is as follows:
850 Burdett Ave
Victoria, BC V8W 1B4
If you are arrested after approximately 3 p.m., you will be held at the detachment until the following morning, at which time you will be transported to the Courthouse for your bail hearing. Your hearing will be conducted in front of a Provincial Court Judge.
If you are arrested on Friday after approximately 3 p.m., or if you are arrested on a weekend, your bail hearing will be conducted at the detachment via telephone with a Justice of the Peace from the Justice Centre.
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. After an arrest, the police must provide you with the opportunity to call a lawyer in private and, if that happens, stop questioning you.
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. It is best to appoint a competent defence lawyer as soon as possible to manage the legal processes and communicate with loved ones.
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 Victoria 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).
Where can I pay for bail for aggravated assault charges in Victoria?
If you or a loved one are charged with aggravated assault in Victoria 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 British Columbia. If you live in Vancouver, you can pay bail there for someone detained in Victoria.
The Victoria court registry is open from 8:30 – 4:30, Monday to Friday. The contact details of the registry office at the Victoria Courthouse are as follows:
850 Burdett Ave
Victoria, BC V8W 1B4
To pay your own bail, you can make a payment after your hearing, assuming you have sufficient funds with you to do so.
How do I change my release conditions for aggravated assault charges in Victoria?
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.
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 aggravated assault cases, but not impossible.
Our lawyers are often successful at persuading the Crown Prosecutor in charge of bail to let our clients out. Moreover, we will work to secure your release on conditions that are no more restrictive than necessary. 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 Superior Court of British Columbia.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault Charges in Victoria
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 in jail,
- Up to three years of 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 cause problems with 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 Resolutions page, or read our FAQ on resolutions and other sentencing options.
Defending Aggravated Assault Charges in Victoria
What are the best defences to aggravated assault charges in Victoria?
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 Victoria?
If you have been charged with aggravated assault in Victoria, 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.
What information is relevant will depend on the facts in your case. As soon as you are released on bail, you should start to gather any information that may be of use to your lawyer. If you are uncertain what information may be relevant, you should contact one of our lawyers immediately to create a plan of action for gathering information.
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 Victoria?
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 Craig, 2005 BCCA 484 the accused inflicted severe injuries upon his former domestic partner by stabbing her three times in the abdomen and inflicting severe cuts to her hands. The attack was unprovoked and significantly impacted the victim’s ability to work and perform recreational activities. The Court determined that the appropriate range for aggravated assault sentencing was between 16-months and six years incarceration, with the length of sentence to be determined by the seriousness of the assault. The Court determined that an escalated consensual fight would constitute the low end of the range, while the high end of the range included an unprovoked attack with a weapon.
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.