Application of force

An assault is the intentional application of force, directly or indirectly, to another person without that person’s consent.

Threat to apply force

An assault may also take the form of an attempt or threat, by an act or gesture, to apply force to another person. In this case, however, the Crown must prove you had the present ability to carry out the assault or that the victim believed you did. The degree of alarm felt by the person threatened is irrelevant to a finding of guilt as is your intent to carry out the threat.

The threat must cause apprehension of immediate personal violence; a threat to inflict harm at an unspecified time in the future is not an assault. Words alone, while they may be a threat, cannot constitute an assault.


Assault may be prosecuted in one of two ways: by summary conviction or by indictment.

Almost invariably, a simple assault will be prosecuted by summary conviction. If convicted following a trial by summary conviction, you are liable to a fine of up to $5,000 or six months’ imprisonment or both. Other penalties may be imposed. For example, many judges will place you on probation, which can last up to three years. Typically, as a condition of probation you will be required to have no contact with the victim of the assault. In addition, you may have to participate in counselling for anger control and, if alcohol was involved, for substance abuse.