Domestic Violence and Assault
Allegations of domestic assault are taken very seriously by the police, the crown attorney’s office and our courts because of the prevalence of domestic abuse in society, the power and balances it creates and the impact it can have on children living in the home.
Domestic Violence is the term Courts use where you are charged with physical force or violence or even a threat of violence against a family member, spouse or an individual with whom you have a personal relationship. Domestic violence can include emotional or psychological abuse, or harassing or threatening behaviour directed between people with whom there has been a relationship. A domestic violence offence can range in severity from a slap to a homicide.
There are special provisions in the Criminal Code that make it an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes where an offence involves violence or the threat of violence between individuals involved in a relationship. These charges can be very difficult for the accused and the alleged victim, given that when charges relating to family violence have been laid, criminal courts have a wide range of powers to release or detain an accused person. Such a release usually has a condition of “no contact” until the trial has been held or the matter has been withdrawn or addressed by the Court.
It is the policy of most police services to place a high priority on these charges and to lay charges in all incidents of domestic violence where there are reasonable grounds to do so.
What happens when the police are called to an alleged domestic assault
Regardless of who calls the police, they will investigate the allegation of domestic assault by interviewing the alleged victim, the accused and any other witnesses. After investigating if they think they have reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has occurred, they will arrest the person. In forming “reasonable grounds”, the police may rely upon a witness statement, any apparent injuries to a victim or any other damage relating to the alleged assault. The police should have more than a mere suspicion that an assault has occurred.
My bail conditions won’t allow me to return home or see my children, what can I do?
A lawyer may be able to negotiate with the crown attorney to consent to a bail variation or bring an application to have your bail varied. In cases involving an allegation of domestic assault, it is very difficult to get your conditions varied so that you can return home.
If the “victim” doesn’t show up for Court will the charges be dropped?
This is unlikely. The crown attorney can subpoena the alleged victim and force her or him to attend court and testify. If the “victim” refuses to attend court, the crown attorney can then request that a warrant be issued for their arrest. Where that person has given a videotaped statement under oath or some kind of statement under oath, the crown attorney can use this evidence at trial – even if the victim changes his/her story.
How do I defend myself against a domestic assault charge?
These charges that go to trial are often very short trials and only involve a couple of witnesses. The Crown attorney usually only calls the alleged victim, any witness to the offence and 1 or 2 police officers.
In cases where false allegations of assault have been made, the complainant’s motives behind having you charged are important and can impact on his/her credibility at trial. There are occasions where one spouse or partner will turn family court proceedings into criminal court proceedings with a view of improving their position.
I have been charged with a domestic assault – what should I do?
Since domestic assaults are taken so seriously by our courts and the ramifications of a criminal record can impact your future, you should contact a criminal defence lawyer immediately so that the lawyer can begin working on your case right away.
We also take cases in other regions so please call us if your area is not listed.
For a consultation with our criminal lawyer please call 905-847-2826.