I’ve been charged with Assault. What do I need to know?

4. Figure out if you have a defence

You can defend yourself in a criminal by showing:

  • the Crown has not proven all of the elements of the crime
  • your situation fits into a legal defence in the Criminal Code
  • your Charter rights were violated

For a of Assault, you may also have a defence in these situations:

  • The other person agreed to let you touch them by participating in an activity like hockey, football, or a mutual fist fight. But this only applies if the person was not seriously injured.
  • The other person did not agree to let you touch them, but you mistakenly believed they did agree.
  • You were defending yourself. But this only applies if your defensive actions don't go too far. You're only allowed to do what you need to do to get away and protect yourself. How much you're allowed to do depends on the situation.
  • You were defending your property from being stolen, misused, or damaged.

Think about what you can use to present your defence. Evidence might include:

  • photos or videos
  • witnesses who saw the incident or who know about the property and its owner
  • telling your version of the story in court

Charter violations

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that you have certain rights when you're dealing with government. The government includes the police, the Crown, and the courts. For example, the police must:

  • not search you in an unreasonable way
  • not use excessive force against you
  • not or you without a good reason
  • help you contact a lawyer if want one
  • explain why you're detained or arrested

If any of your Charter rights are violated, the judge can throw out certain evidence in your case. In some situations, the judge may even dismiss your charges completely, for example, if it takes too long to give you a trial.

It can be legally complicated to discover Charter violations and know how to present them in court. It's best to talk to a lawyer before your trial to find out if there are Charter issues and how to deal with them.

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