Fact Sheet: Common Criminal Charges in VAW Cases

Publication Date: 
Resource Origin: 
Springtide Resources

by Pamela Cross, LLB

Assault:  When someone touches another person, directly or indirectly, without that person's consent it is an assault. It is also an assault when the person attempts or threatens to touch another person.  This is a criminal offence, whether or not the victim has any physical injuries.

Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm:  This is assault when the person carries, uses or threatens to use a weapon or an imitation of a weapon or causes physical harm that interferes with the health or comfort of the victim.

Aggravated assault:  This is assault that involves wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of the victim.

Criminal harassment:  This is the legal term for stalking.  It is illegal for someone to repeatedly follow someone from place to place, repeatedly communicate with that person, spend time outside that person's house or workplace, or make threats against the person, if it causes that other person to fear for her safety.

Forcible confinement:  Forcing someone to remain somewhere or interfering with (blocking) the person from leaving a place is forcible confinement.

Sexual assault:  Any unwanted touching of sexual nature is a sexual assault.  This can range from touching of sexual parts of the body to vaginal or anal penetration.  As with other assaults, if weapons are involved or there is serious physical injury, the charge can become either sexual assault with a weapon or aggravated sexual assault.

Uttering threats:  It is a criminal offence to utter a threat to kill or seriously harm another person, to destroy another person's property or to injure or kill an animal or bird belonging to another person.

This Fact Sheet contains general legal information only.  It is not a legal document, nor is it a replacement for legal advice.  Anyone in a situation involving family, immigration or refugee law is strongly urged to meet with a lawyer to understand fully their rights and responsibilities, the legal options available to them and appropriate legal processes.  A lawyer can interpret the law and provide advice based on the personal facts and information in the specific case.

For information about finding a lawyer in your community, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1 800 668 8258 or 417 979 1446.

You can also visit Legal Aid Ontario online at www.legalaid.on.ca