Home » How are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault Decided?

Being charged with aggravated assault is a serious matter. Defined as an assault that wounds, maims, disfigures, or endangers the life of someone else, aggravated assault is the most serious form of assault — and the consequences of such a charge are equally severe. The penalties of such a charge, including a maximum of up to fourteen years in prison, can be long-lasting and far-reaching and significantly impact the course of one’s life. Therefore, it is important to contact an experienced lawyer to help defend you and reduce the penalties you face because of the aggravated assault charge.

Our experienced aggravated assault lawyers at Chadi & Company have helped defend clients in Edmonton against aggravated assault prosecutions for more than three decades. We understand that facing an aggravated assault charge can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience and that the stakes are incredibly high. But, with Chadi & Company on your side, you can rest assured that you will have a dedicated and passionate team fighting for your rights.

Penalties for Aggravated Assault

Definition of Aggravated Assault

The Criminal Code of Canada defines aggravated assault as an assault that “wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.” Considered the most serious assault charge, aggravated assault occurs when the inflicted injuries are grave and have long-lasting effects on the victim. This may include a broken jaw or nose, severe cuts to the skin, or a retinal herniation causing blindness.


A wound refers to a break in the skin or cutting of the skin or tissue that causes severe bleeding. This generally refers to permanent damage, such as one that requires stitches or staples, which means that small scrapes are not covered under the definition of aggravated assault.


Any injury to the body that causes a person to “be less able to fight” falls under the definition of maiming. The most common examples of such an injury are broken bones or loss of vision.


Injuries that cause more than a “temporary marring of a person’s appearance” are considered a disfigurement. This may include permanent scarring, permanent disability, or the loss of function in a limb.

Factors that Determine the Penalties for Aggravated Assault

An aggravated assault conviction in Alberta can carry severe penalties, including up to fourteen years in prison. However, the penalties depend on the specific circumstances in each case.

For instance, when determining the penalties, the court may consider the accused person’s criminal record, especially if it contains entries for violence, as this could increase the severity of the penalty.

The severity of the crime also affects the penalty, including the nature and seriousness of the injuries inflicted upon the victim and whether these injuries are permanent or life-altering. Generally, the more serious the injuries are, the more serious the penalties will be. In addition, the court may take into account the reasons for the attack, including whether it was unprovoked or occurred in tandem with another criminal offence.

These circumstances are not exhaustive. The court may consider several other factors when determining the penalties for aggravated assault, but, in general, prison time is a very likely outcome.

What are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated assault is one of the most serious criminal charges and is considered an indictable offence. If convicted, the maximum penalty you can receive is a fourteen-year prison sentence. However, the severity of the penalties depends on the specific circumstances in each case.

In the majority of aggravated assault cases, a jail sentence will be considered – either a period served in the community or a period of actual custody. Prior to November of 2022, a jail sentence to be served in the community (“Conditional Sentence Order) was not available for the offence of aggravated assault. However, in November of 2022, the Criminal Code of Canada was amended in a fashion that now gives courts the discretion to allow an offender, found guilty of aggravated assault, to serve their jail sentence in the community, under the terms of a Conditional Sentence Order. However, there are requirements that need to be met prior to a court granting a Conditional Sentence Order. First, a court must be satisfied that any jail sentence served is one of less than two years. Second, a court must be satisfied that you do not pose a danger to the community at large and that allowing you to serve a jail sentence in the community would not be contrary to the sentencing principles as outlined in the Criminal Code. An experienced lawyer at Chadi & Company can assist in convincing the court of these requirements.

If it is determined that a Conditional Sentence Order is not appropriate, you may be required to serve a jail sentence in actual custody, which can be followed by a period of probation. If you are sentenced to a period of custody, you may be eligible for an intermittent sentence, which allows you to serve your sentence in shorter intervals, for example, on weekends. You may also receive a prison sentence and a fine, which requires you to serve time in actual custody while also paying a fine.

In some situations, a guilty plea to an offence other than aggravated assault can be negotiated. This can include a guilty plea to a common assault or assault causing bodily harm, for example. The benefit of this is significant, as it opens the door for a greater variety of sentencing options. One of the options includes a suspended sentence (probation), which means that you are not required to serve jail time but will need to comply with certain conditions set out by the court. A fine alone is another option, where you are required to pay a certain amount of money as a penalty. Alternatively, you may receive a fine and probation, which involves serving a period of probation in addition to paying a fine. The specific sentence you receive will depend on various factors, including the severity of the crime, your criminal record, and other mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

Why Consulting with a Lawyer is Important

Aggravated assault charges are taken very seriously in the Canadian criminal justice system. As mentioned, these charges carry severe penalties, such as up to fourteen years in prison, which can have long-lasting financial and social consequences for the accused person, such as difficulties in securing loans, finding a job, or even getting custody or access to children.

Aggravated assault charges can be challenging to understand and navigate, particularly for those who are not familiar with the legal system. Without experienced legal representation, an accused person may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed with their case. This is where Chadi & Company can help.

Our team of experienced lawyers at Chadi & Company specializes in criminal defence cases. By working with Chadi & Company, you can rest assured that your case, options, and future are in safe hands.

How Chadi & Company Can Help You

If you have been charged with aggravated assault, nobody is better equipped to defend you than the skilled legal team at Chadi & Company. Whether it involves challenging the prosecution’s evidence, negotiating plea deals, or presenting mitigating factors to reduce the severity of the penalty, our experienced lawyers will work tirelessly to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Contact Chadi & Company today for a free and confidential consultation about your case. You can reach us at (780) 429-2300 or online to schedule your consultation.

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