Five Things You Need to Know If You've Been Charged with Assault

Facing an assault allegation can be scary. The process of being investigated and arrested can be a daunting one. You are sure to have questions about what’s going to happen and what to expect.

Here are the top five things you need to know if you’ve been charged with assault:

Be Quiet!

You will not be ‘Mirandized’, and no cop is going to read out the phrases that we’ve become so familiar with from American television. While you absolutely have a right to remain silent, the sound of the warning might be unfamiliar. 

You are not keeping silent because you have something to hide. You are keeping silent because you want to preserve the integrity of the case you will have to run in your own defense, and not inadvertently provide material that the Crown prosecutor might use against you. 

There are cameras EVERYWHERE in a police station and in a remand centre. Even when you think you’re alone, away from the prying eyes of the boys in blue, you might be inadvertently creating an evidentiary record that could be used to convict you, whether you actually committed the offense in question or not. 

Your Lawyer is the Only Person You Can Trust.

You should ask to speak to a lawyer, in private, as soon as you are arrested. Ideally, you have a lawyer in mind, and can tell that lawyer’s name and contact information to the arresting officer. They are required to take reasonable steps, the steps that you might have taken if you were free to do so, to make contact with counsel for you. 

If you were charged with a serious offense like assault, anyone you say anything  to can be subpoenaed to give evidence against you. Whether you actually committed the offense or not, anything, from jokes about it, to casual offhand mentions, to serious discussions with close friends, any and all of that can be introduced as evidence and used to prosecute a case against you. 

Your lawyer is bound by solicitor-client privilege, which means that they cannot be called to testify against you, even if you later part ways. 

Don’t Try to Run or Resist Arrest

Do not try to run from police, resist arrest, or otherwise fight off the police who have come to take you into custody. Whether the events that allegedly constituted the assault just happened, or whether police have shown up at your door weeks or months after the fact, they are agents of the state, and it can go very badly for you, including incurring additional criminal charges, if you do not follow police directions. 

In addition to racking up a few more criminal charges, you place yourself in physical danger. Police are entitled to use a certain degree of physical force in order to protect you and themselves while they are doing their jobs. You don’t want to find yourself on the receiving end of it! 

You Should Be Released from Police Custody Relatively Quickly... 

The most likely scenario is that you will be released immediately after processing. You will be given something called a “Promise to Appear”, which you should sign and immediately put in your calendar. You’re not admitting anything by signing the PTA, you’re just assuring the police that you will show up for your day in court. 

If the police do not release you immediately after booking, and instead arrest you with the intention of keeping you in custody overnight, they are required to bring you before a Judge for a bail hearing within 24 hours of your arrest. The Crown prosecutor that day will make a decision as to whether they want to keep you in custody, and your representative, whether that is your own private lawyer, or the duty counsel that day, will advocate on your behalf for your release. 

The chance to get out will likely come with some conditions, especially if you have been charged with a violent crime like assault. These will likely include a restriction on contacting, in any way, the person you have been alleged to have assaulted, as well as restrictions on whether you can own weapons, or even knives.

The Definition of Assault is a Wide One 

 We know this is going to sound like we’re beating a dead horse (pun very much intended), but do not talk to anyone about your alleged offence before you talk to a lawyer. This includes saying things like ‘but I never touched her when I pulled the knife” or “but the trowel totally missed him when I threw it”, because, strange as it may seem, you don't actually necessarily need to make physical contact with the complainant in order to have satisfied all the essential elements of an assault. 

But don’t worry, because an experienced criminal defence lawyer will be able to help.  They know the defences that work, and ones that don’t. They will be able to assist you and to defend you against the threat of conviction.  Your lawyer will become your most valuable resource.

If you have been charged with assault, contact one of the experienced criminal defence lawyer at Sarah Leamon Law Group by calling 604-900-9211. 

We are here to help.

Sarah Leamon