Charges Withdrawn: Aggravated Assault, Assault with a Weapon, Possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public

Sometimes you have to hurt someone in order to defend yourself, and sometimes have to have to use a weapon to do it. The use of force with a weapon, even deadly force in some circumstances, is allowed under law if its use is necessary to defend one’s self and the force used is not excessive (an example of excessive force would be shooting someone with a firearm in response to an assault consisting of a mere push or shove).

The client was charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public. The accusation was that she stabbed a woman repeatedly during a fight in a parking lot. Both the client and the woman she fought with claimed that the other person struck the first blow during a heated argument. Both women ended up being stabbed before the fight was over. Both the client and the woman were charged with attacking each other. The client was stabbed while getting into a car to try get away from the fight.

On the day of the preliminary hearing (a precursor to a trial in the Superior Court of Justice before a judge and jury), the client’s lawyer, Tyler MacDonald, took the opportunity to speak with the Crown again about the case. Those discussions are confidential, but issues with this case clearly related to whether a judge or jury would ever be able to determine beyond a reasonable doubt what happened during the fight, or who struck the first blow. In a trial, if self defence is clearly at issue and the court cannot determine one way or the other whether the person acted in self defence, the accused gets the benefit of the doubt and must be acquitted.

It was in this context that the Crown agreed to withdraw all charges (“drop the charges”) without the matter going to trial, on the condition that the client and the other woman each signed a peace bond with a condition that they stay away from each other. A peace bond, sometimes mistakenly referred to as a restraining order, is simply a court order which usually contains standard conditions that a person is not to have contact with a specific person and not to possess any weapons, and is commonly imposed for a period of one year. After the set period of duration the peace bond expires and does not result in a criminal record. It is not a guilty plea and does not involve any admission of wrongdoing.

The client’s battle in the parking lot that day left her stabbed and charged with serious crimes that could  have lead to sentences of imprisonment, but, with the right approach by Mr. MacDonald, her fight before the courts left her unscathed, and protected from being contacted by her former foe.