Assault Charges in British Columbia: Know Your Rights and Legal Options

by | Sep 8, 2023 | Assault

Assault charges are serious charges in British Columbia and across Canada. They often lead to significant legal penalties. If you face charges of assault, you must understand your rights and the legal options that are available to you. This applies to various forms of assault, including simple assault, assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, and aggravated assault. In this comprehensive guide, we will help you understand your legal rights, the process when facing assault charges, and how Mickelson, Whysall, Moore & Forhan can support you through this complex legal ordeal.

Check types of assault in this article

Understand your legal rights when facing assault charges

In British Columbia, the police make arrests, but only Crown Counsel has the authority to file charges. Assault charges for summary convictions must be filed within six months. However, there is no time limit for indictable offences. When you are arrested, the police are required to explain the grounds for your arrest and read you your rights.

Right to Counsel

You have the right to a criminal lawyer who can help you defend yourself against the charges or negotiate a plea bargain. Immediately upon arrest and detention you have the right to consult a lawyer, without delay. The police must tell you about your right to a lawyer and give you a fair chance to talk to one. You can ask to talk to a free lawyer, a lawyer you choose, or a lawyer from a directory.

People may not realize the importance of the right to stay silent until they are arrested and talk to a lawyer. If you are not adequately provided with your right to counsel that is factor that can be considered by the Courts at a later time when defending the allegations against you.

Read about our assault lawyers and how we can help you

Right to Silence

When you are arrested it is important to understand your right to silence. You have no obligation to speak with the police or provide a statement. The police will write or record everything you say to them. Anything you say to the police can be used as evidence against you in court. It is highly likely that it will be used against you.

For example, if you admit any facts to the police, they may not need to prove them in court. It’s crucial for someone accused of a crime, like assault, to know they have the right to remain silent. Don’t give a statement without getting advice from a good lawyer first.

Right to Make Full Answer and Defence

You have right to know the case against you. You have the right to access all the evidence the police have against you. This includes witness statements, photos, medical evidence, and reports. To defend yourself, gather all evidence related to your case and be ready to respond to the accusations.

How to Successfully Defend Against Assault Charges in Canada – Legal Process and Defences

If you’re accused of assault, get legal help right away.

Every case is different, so the best defence and approach will vary based on your specific situation. Your circumstances and your choice of lawyer can influence the outcome of assault cases. Having a competent criminal defence lawyer is crucial. They can thoroughly assess your case and provide the necessary attention it requires. Mickelson, Whysall, Moore & Forhan lawyers are ready to assist you with the complicated legal system and strive for the best outcome.

Potential Defences: Self Defence

In Canada, self-defence is a recognized legal principle. It permits people to use force to protect themselves or others from immediate physical harm or the fear of physical harm. The rules for self-defence in Canada are outlined in the Criminal Code of Canada, specifically in sections 34 to 42. These guidelines are further clarified by the important legal case of R. v. Khill, 2021 SCC 37 [R v Khill].

To be successful, the Court will need to determine the following factors:

Imminent Threat: The threat must be imminent, meaning that you or someone else must be in immediate danger of harm or perceived threat of harm. Self-defence is not typically justified if the threat has passed, or if there is no immediate danger.  The Judge considers various factors when evaluating a situation, such as whether any party had a weapon, the ages, sizes, and genders of those involved, their past interactions, and whether there were alternative options to address the perceived threat.

Your Role: The accused person’s role in the incident is now a significant factor to consider as well following the release of R v Khill. This means the judge will look at what you did leading up to, and during, the altercation and why.

Reasonable Force: The use of force in self-defence must be reasonable and proportionate to the threat faced. This means that you cannot use excessive force in response to a threat. The amount of force used should be what a reasonable person in similar circumstances would consider necessary to protect themselves. Self-defence can justify using force, but it won’t be a full defence if the force used is considered too excessive.

No Duty to Retreat: In Canada, there is generally no legal duty to retreat before using force in self-defence. This means that you do not need to run away to avoid being assaulted or attacked in order to justify using the force against the other party.

Defence of Others: You are also allowed to use force to defend someone else if you reasonably believe that they are in imminent danger of physical harm.

Here is one of our recent case won with this defence line

Potential Defences: Consent Fight

In Canada, a consensual fight is a physical altercation between two or more individuals who willingly and voluntarily engage in the fight without any intention to cause serious harm or injury.  It’s important to note that while consensual fights may occur, they are subject to legal limitations and can still lead to criminal charges depending on the circumstances.

Consent: For a fight to be considered consensual, all parties involved must give clear and voluntary consent to participate. This means that no one is forced or coerced into the fight.

No Serious Bodily Harm: The participants should not have the intention to cause serious bodily harm or engage in activities that are likely to result in severe injuries. If serious bodily harm is both intended and caused, then the fight is not consensual. In that case, the party who caused or intended to cause bodily harm can be charged with assault or aggravated assault, regardless of the initial consent.

Potential Defences: De Minimus

In certain situations, if the assault is very minor, you can argue that it’s not severe enough to warrant involvement from the criminal courts, potentially leading to a not guilty verdict. For example, if you pushed past your partner in a doorway, tried to grab a cell phone from someone and scratched their hand, or the like, you may be able to use this defence.

The lawyers at Mickelson, Whysall, Moore & Forhan have successfully won at trial with this defence. We have access to unreported court decisions which may assist you if you need to run a De Minimus argument in your trial.

The Court Process

Facing assault charges can be overwhelming, but understanding your rights and legal options makes the process less daunting. Engaging with a professional, experienced lawyer is essential to ensuring that your rights are protected and you get the best possible defence possible.

  • Arrest and Bail Hearing: Once arrested, you may be released by the police with conditions, or you may be required to attend court for a bail hearing. Having an experienced lawyer help you at this point is essential in securing your release with fair bail terms.
  • Court Proceedings: After you are released by the police, or by the Courts, you will have to appear in court regularly until your case is resolved or it is set for trial. Hiring an assault lawyer to advocate for you, present your case, and negotiate with the Crown Counsel for a favourable outcome is crucial.
  • Trial: There are often times when an assault charge will go to trial and the case is determined by the Judge. During the trial, your lawyer will challenge the prosecution’s case, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence and arguments to support your defence.
  • Peace Bonds: For less severe assaults, you may have the option to enter into a peace bond. An experienced criminal defence lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to resolve the criminal charge through a peace bond, enabling the client to avoid both the charge and the resulting criminal record

How We Can Help You Beat an Assault Charge in British Columbia?

The lawyers at Mickelson, Whysall, Moore & Forhan are committed to providing skilled legal representation to individuals facing assault charges across British Columbia. Facing an assault charge in British Columbia is a serious and stressful situation that can profoundly impact your life. Knowing your rights and legal options is essential, but having a dedicated legal team by your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Read more on how we can help you. To find out more about how we can assist you, contact us now and speak to one of our knowledgeable lawyers.

We commit to write accurate and trustworthy articles showcasing first-hand experience. At least two lawyers, highly experienced in assaults’ cases, are fact-checking and approving every piece of content the team creates. If you have a question about any information you read, please give us a call on please give us a call on 604-688-8588