Assault? Assault causing bodily harm? Assault with a weapon? Aggravated assault? – Differences?
All assaults are general intent offences. General intent means only that the accused meant to do an act prohibited by law, NOT that the accused necessarily intended the act’s result. Accidentally hitting someone is not an assault (unless the accused was trying to hit someone else). If the victim consented to the assault, it is also not an assault. However, there are certain things that a person cannot consent to, including assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, or aggravated assault.
An “assault” includes an actual assault, as well as the threat of an assault leading a person to reasonably believe that they will be assaulted. A “simple” assault (the least serious) is punishable on summary conviction or can constitute an indictable offence and face imprisonment up to five years.
Assault with a weapon is an assault with the use of a weapon, which can be anything that is used to deliver the harm, such as a stick, knife or gun, or an imitation thereof. Assault with a weapon can be punishable on summary conviction and be liable to imprisonment up to 18 months, or constitute an indictable offence and be subject to imprisonment for up to ten years.
An assault causing bodily harm is one that is dependant on the outcome of the assault. That is, if the assault results in hurt or injury that is not “transient or trifling”, it constitutes “bodily harm”. Similarly, assault causing bodily harm can be punishable on summary conviction and be liable to imprisonment up to 18 months, or constitute an indictable offence and be subject to imprisonment up to ten years.
An aggravated assault is more serious still than assault causing bodily harm. An assault is “aggravated” if it “wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant”. Aggravated assault is an indictable offence and, if convicted, a person is liable to imprisonment up to 14 years.
It is always advisable to seek legal advice as soon as you are charged with a crime. It is also your Constitutional right to be advised of your right to speak with a lawyer upon your arrest. If you have been charged with a criminal, or quasi-criminal offence, our lawyers are available to assist you at any stage of the process you are in.
By Sarah Ure.