What’s the Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault?

The Categories of Assualt

Assault is a criminal offence in Canada. There are three categories of assault in the Criminal Code: common assault, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm.

  • Common assault is the least serious form of assault and includes any unwanted touching or contact with another person. This can range from a shove to punching someone. 
  • Aggravated assault is a more serious form of assault that involves wounding, maiming, disfiguring, or endangering the life of another person. 
  • Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm is an even more serious form of assault that can result in jail time.


When it comes to prosecuting someone for uttering threats, courts make a distinction between casual utterances and actual threats of harm.

Assault Vs Aggravated Assualt

The biggest difference between assault and aggravated assault is that the latter requires actual physical harm done to the victim or complainant. If a person only throws a punch and misses, they can still be charged with assault. However, they cannot be convicted of aggravated assault unless the attempted punch somehow endangered the life of the complainant.

Assault is a serious crime that can have life-altering consequences. When it comes to determining whether or not a threat of assault has been made, courts must consider the intent and context of the words used. For example, someone making a joke about sticking a fork down another person’s throat is less likely to be convicted of assault than someone who makes a clear and specific threat of harm while wielding a fork in a menacing way. If someone assaults another person with a fork, they may be subject to an additional assault charge. “Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm” under Section 267 of the Code is seen as being between “assault” and “aggravated assault.”

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