Violent Offences

Like property offences, these can be the most straightforward (i.e. a person is charged with second-degree murder where they committed the act intending or being willfully blind to the likely consequence of the act (death)), but the evidentiary issues can be wildly complicated (i.e. which of the three attackers caused the fatal blow? Does it matter? Were you acting in self-defence, and was your act taken in self-defence reasonably proportionate to the act you were defending yourself against (say, another punch)? Were you too drunk to have been able to have intended the specific consequence?)

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Examples of violent offences include:


This simply refers to any touching without consent (or to a reasonable belief that an un-consented-to touching is imminent). The consequences of that touching are largely irrelevant. All the Crown needs to prove is that you intended to touch (i.e. it was not a true accident), and that no consent was given/obtained. 

Assault Causing Bodily Harm:

Here, the Crown only needs to prove that the touching was without consent AND objective foresight (or recklessness) that the touching would subject the victim to the risk of some kind of bodily harm. The nature of that harm is not relevant to anything other than sentence, and it does not matter if the offender did not intend the harm actually caused.

Aggravated Assault:

This offence is effectively exactly the same as assault causing bodily harm, except that the injury caused involves the victim being wounded, maimed, disfigured, and/or has their life endangered. In other words, the resulting injury is much more serious and, typically, permanent.

Assault with a Weapon:

Exactly as it seems: a touch, direct or indirect, that is not consented to, and which involves a “weapon.” For this offence, there is really no limit as to what is or is not a weapon. The central issue is the purpose for which the item is used, and not the nature of the wound received (if anything).

Uttering Threats:

All this offence requires is that a person communicate a threat with the intention that the person hearing the threat believes it was communicated with the intention of being understood as sincere. It does not matter if the person communicating the threat does not intend to actually do the thing. It does not matter if the person being threatened does not learn of the threat.


Manslaughter is not murder, it is culpable homicide wherein the offender did not have the specific intent to cause the death of the victim, but where the offender’s conduct causes the death of another person. Manslaughter can also be found within the context of another unlawful act (an assault, for example). In addition to the intent required for proof of the underlying offence, the Crown must also prove the objective foreseeability of the risk of bodily harm, which is neither trivial nor transitory, in the context of a dangerous act. Foreseeability of the risk of death is not required.

Second Degree Murder:

An act specifically intended to cause the death of the victim.

First Degree Murder:

An act specifically intended to cause the death of the victim that was either planned and deliberate. The “planning” need not be particularly sophisticated or contemplated particularly in advance of the act. First degree murder can also result where the murder is committed against a specific type of person (for example, a police officer), or in the course of a specific other offence (for example, sexual assault).

While sentences for manslaughter run the gamut from probation to life imprisonment, second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence with a mandatory parole ineligibility period of 10 years (for a first murder), while first degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence with a mandatory parole ineligibility period of 25 years.

Self-induced intoxication can be a partial defence to murder, but it is no defence to simple assault (where the consequence – the black eye – just doesn’t matter).

Violent offences run from the almost cartoonishly mild (a woman was once charged with assault where she pushed her elderly husband into a chair) to the terrifyingly sadistic (no explanation is necessary).