When a court deems that a criminal offence was committed under "aggravating circumstances," sentencing may be increased. Examples of aggravating circumstances recognized by Canadian courts include the following:
- Evidence that the defendant abused someone younger than 18
- Evidence that there was a relationship of trust or authority between the defendant and the victim
- Evidence that an assault or other criminal offence was motivated by prejudice or hate
- Evidence that the defendant abused his or her spouse
- Evidence that the defendant committed a terrorism offence
- Evidence that the offence benefited or was otherwise linked to a criminal organization
A recent amendment to the Canadian Criminal Code adds a new aggravating circumstance: assault of a public transit operator.
According to Senator Bob Runciman, who introduced the bill, each year in Canada roughly 2,000 public transit operators are assaulted. The president of the union that represents Toronto Transit Commission workers stated that assaults on TTC drivers happen at a rate of about four a week.
The amendment specifies that a "public transit worker" is a person who drives a bus, train or taxi cab to transport the public. The new bill does not specify that assault on a transit collector is necessarily an aggravating circumstance, though the union president suggested that his organization would seek to have the legislation amended to cover all transit workers.
Assault charges can lead to very serious consequences, including prison sentences, fines and court-ordered treatment. If you have been accused of assault, then it is crucial that you speak with a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. A defence lawyer can investigate your case, scrutinize the evidence against you, gather defence evidence, prepare you for court, and develop a legal strategy for protecting your rights and freedom.