INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION
The term "bodily harm" is defined at section 2 of the Criminal Code. As stated in the definition, the harm must be more than merely transient or trifling in nature. The harm must also have the effect of interfering with the health or comfort of the complainant.
Section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada is an essential provision that provides an interpretation of the term "bodily harm" in the code. The section defines bodily harm as any hurt or injury that affects the health or comfort of an individual, which is more than a passing or insignificant issue. The interpretation of this section plays a crucial role in the administration of justice in the country, as it guides the sentences that judges can impose on offenders who are found guilty of criminal offenses involving physical harm. The definition of "bodily harm" in section 2 is broad enough to encompass all forms of physical injuries, including minor injuries that may seem insignificant but are severe enough to cause discomfort or inconvenience to the victim. At the same time, the provision sets a threshold for harm that is more than transient or trifling in nature. Thus, it clarifies that any harm that does not meet this criterion cannot be prosecuted as a criminal offense. The interpretation of this section is particularly important in cases that involve assault, domestic violence, and other offenses that involve the use of force against another person. In such cases, the prosecution must prove that the offender caused bodily harm to the victim, and the definition of "bodily harm" in section 2 helps to establish that threshold. For instance, if an individual is slapped or punched in the face, the injury may not appear significant at first glance. However, if the act results in a bruise or swelling, the injury meets the threshold of bodily harm, and criminal charges can be filed against the offender. Section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada is also relevant in cases of sexual assault, where bodily harm is not limited to physical injuries but includes harm to a victim's psychological well-being. The provision recognizes that harm to an individual's emotional and mental health can be just as damaging as physical injuries. For instance, in cases where an individual is subjected to sexual assault, they may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, which can have long-lasting effects on their health and well-being. Therefore, the definition of "bodily harm" in section 2 includes mental and emotional harm caused by physical assaults. Moreover, the provision highlights the victim-centered approach in the Canadian criminal justice system. By providing a broad interpretation of bodily harm, the section recognizes that harm is not limited to the actual physical injury but extends to the victim's experience of that injury. The definition ensures that defendants can be held accountable for the harm caused to the victim's health and well-being, even if the injury may seem insignificant. In conclusion, section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a crucial provision that guides the interpretation of bodily harm in criminal offenses. The section's interpretation helps establish a threshold for physical harm that is more than merely transient or trifling in nature. This interpretation is essential in cases that involve assault, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Furthermore, the provision recognizes that harm is not limited to physical injuries but includes harm to an individual's psychological well-being. By providing a victim-centered approach, the definition ensures that offenders are held accountable for the harm caused to the victim's health and well-being.
Offences which refer to bodily harm are often augmented forms of more basic charges. For example, section 266 sets out the offence of assault simpliciter, whereas section 267 sets out the offence of assault causing bodily harm. Similarly section 271 sets out the offence of sexual assault, whereas section 272 sets out the offence of sexual assault causing bodily harm. The augmented form of the basic charge can be defended on the medico legal question as to whether the harm caused rises to the level of "bodily harm". Minor degrees of harm can often be plead down to the simpliciter form of the charge, and a sentence imposed commensurate with the degree of harm suffered by the victim.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Is jail automatically imposed for an offence involving bodily harm?
No. For example, the offence of assault causing bodily harm which is set out in section 267 of the Criminal Code has a maximum penalty of 18 months when prosecuted by summary conviction, or ten years when prosecuted by indictment. Despite the availability of high penalties, neither mode of prosecution has a mandatory minimum sentence, and thus, all ranges of punishment are available at law, from custodial to non-custodial.
VIDEOS AND MEDIA