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Aggravated assault

Region: Ontario Answer # 1838

What is aggravated assault?

Aggravated assault is the most serious form of assault short of actually causing death. A person can be convicted of aggravated assault when their actions lead to another person being wounded, maimed, disfigured, or if they endanger someone’s life.

  • Wound: breaking of the skin.
  • Maim: to injure another person so much that they are less able or unable to fight back.
  • Disfigure: involves more than temporary impairment of a person’s figure or appearance.
  • Endangered life: a real risk to a person. Actual bodily harm is not necessary.

For example, a lasting facial wound (permanent scar) caused by a broken beer bottle in a bar fight would be considered to be an aggravated assault. If you have been charged with a crime such as assault, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.

What has to be proved for a conviction?

The basic elements that the Crown prosecutor needs to prove are the time and location of the crime, and identity of the assaulter. After that, the Crown prosecutor needs to prove:

  • An assault occurred, which means the intentional application of force and an objective foresight of bodily harm;
  • There were injuries sustained that are more than just trivial or temporary; and
  • The injuries resulted in the complainant being wounded, maimed, disfigured, or had their life endangered.

The intent (called mens rea) required to prove aggravated assault is “objective foresight of bodily harm” and the Crown Prosecutor does not need to prove an intent to maim, wound or disfigure.


The  most common defence to a charge of aggravated assault is self-defence. To prove self-defence, the accused must convince the court that:

  • He or she had reasonable grounds to believe that they were being assaulted; and
  • Given the circumstances, the accused’s actions were reasonable.


A person convicted of aggravated assault is guilty of an indictable offence and will be liable to imprisonment for a maximum of fourteen years.

Get Help

If you have a criminal record and want to erase it, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a crime, a criminal defence lawyer experienced in representing people charged with assault will understand when and how to defend an individual case. The penalties for assault vary widely. If you have been charged with assault, or any other crime, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our preferred criminal defence expert, Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation at 416-938-5858 .

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