Domestic Assault Lawyer
What is a Domestic Assault?
‘Domestic assault’ is not an actual offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Rather, a domestic assault is an assault, according to section 265 of the Criminal Code, which takes place in the context of an intimate relationship—typically, between two individuals who are currently or have formerly been dating, in a common law relationship, or married.
It is a statutorily aggravating factor if the offence is committed against a spouse or common law partner pursuant to s.718.2(a)(ii) of the Criminal Code. These types of cases are prosecuted very differently—in fact, most jurisdictions have a specialized team of Crown Attorneys (prosecutors) who are solely responsible for prosecuting domestic assault related cases with a tough zero-tolerance policy.
The Ministry of Attorney General in the province of Ontario has specifically directed that all domestic assault cases “…should be prosecuted as vigorously as other serious criminal matters” and “…be given priority in scheduling”.
Domestic assault is a hybrid offence and all sentencing dispositions are available whether the Crown proceeds by indictment or by summary conviction. Where the Crown proceeds by indictment, assault carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and it carries a maximum of 18 months imprisonment where the Crown proceeds summarily.
Under the Criminal Code, you can be charged with one of the following offences in a domestic assault matter:
Assault – s. 265
Prohibits the use of intended force or threats of force
Maximum Penalty: Dual: Summary and/or Indictable: 5 years
Assault with a Weapon or Causing Bodily Harm – s. 267
Prohibits the carrying, use of or the threat to use a weapon for the purposes of assault
Prohibits bodily harm as defined by any hurt or injury that interferes with health or comfort
Maximum Penalty: Indictable: 10 years
Aggravated Assault – s. 268
Prohibits assaults that wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant
Maximum Penalty: Indictable: 14 years
DOMESTIC ASSAULT FAQ
What will happen if I am charged with a domestic assault?
If you have been charged with domestic assault, then you will very likely be detained by police for the purposes of a bail hearing. If you are released on bail, the court will likely order strict conditions that will certainly prohibit any contact directly or indirectly with the complainant (victim). Also as part of your conditions, you will not be permitted to attend the family residence or any known place the complainant would be. Such strict conditions will have to be abided by until the criminal charges are resolved.
What if the victim/complainant does not want to charge me or no longer wishes to proceed with the charges?
In cases of domestic assault, the complainant (victim) does not decide whether the police will lay charges or whether the Crown Attorney will pursue the prosecution of the charges. Essentially, a complainant does not have the ability to decide whether or not the authorities ‘press charges’. If the police are called, the decision to lay charges solely remain at the discretion of the police. The same is true once the matter appears in court and is handled by a special domestic assault crown attorney. That being said, in some situations, complainants may attempt to influence the prosecutor’s decision to proceed with the prosecution, as victim input in such matters are part of the process.
Can I change my bail conditions?
Bail conditions may be changed in order to amend or remove a condition depending on the unique facts of the case. In domestic assault cases, most accused persons seek bail variations for the purposes of contacting the complainant (victim) or attending the family residence. If the crown does not consent/agree to the proposed changes, then the process become significantly more complicated as the accused person would only be left with the option of bringing a bail review before a judge in the Superior Court of Justice.
What is a Peace Bond?
A peace bond is a court order, or an agreement that an accused person enters into with the court in exchange for the criminal charges to be withdrawn. As part of the agreement, the accused person must abide by certain conditions, similar to bail conditions. Conditions of the peace bond may include keep the peace and be of good behaviour, not to possess any weapons, not to contact the complaint, etc. Peace bonds are typically 12 months in length and are not considered a finding of guilt, which means that they do not result in a conviction.
What is the PAR program?
The Partner Assault Response (PAR) program is a counselling program designed to help participants stop their violent, abusive and controlling behaviours towards their partners. This is the court-ordered program that many individuals who are charged with domestic assault, even if its for the first time, are responsible for not only attending but also actively participating in the 12 session program. Every session is evaluated by instructors who will produce a report card with written comments for the Crown Attorney to review and ultimately decide how to proceed in a matter. Visit www.parprogram.ca for more information about the PAR program.
What is the benefit of participating in the PAR program?
There are many benefits to completing the PAR program–beyond addressing the core issues of violence and improving the quality of life for you and your loved ones, accused persons who successfully complete PAR program and certainly in a better position to get that bail variation, peace bond, discharge or even withdraw they have been hoping for. It is crucial to understand that when you decide to enroll in the PAR program that you must not be late or miss any sessions and participate in a meaningful way.
For more details on the objective of the program please click on this link www.parprogram.ca
How long will it take to complete the PAR program?
The PAR program consists of twelve 2-hour individual sessions which usually takes 2 to 4 months to complete. It is very important to not be late or miss any sessions.
How much does the PAR program cost?
The fees are generally on a sliding scale based on your income, but generally it could cost roughly between $80 to $125 per session plus HST. In special circumstances a lower fee may be negotiated during the initial session.
Please note that this article is solely for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice. Please consult a lawyer prior to acting or relying on any information in order to ensure the protection of your rights and interests.
Is it possible to have charges withdrawn by contacting the police and telling them that you no longer want to press charges?
Unfortunately no, it is unlikely. Whether or not the police lay criminal charges against someone is a decision made by the police and ONLY the police, after they have conducted an investigation. Once charges have been laid, the decision to prosecute or withdraw a case is then made by the Crown Attorney.
i’m not a lawyer but i can’t imagine that’e how it works. when you call the police and they come, they decide who gets charged
if i was charged with assaulting my wife how likely am i to get my bail conditions changed so i can have contact with my wife?
Do not expect to be able to immediately return back home to see your wife for at least a brief period of time. That being said, it is certainly possible to make changes to your bail, but not until the Crown Attorney is satisfied that you are not a continuing threat to the complainant’s safety which will likely some combination of the following: passage of time, enrolling in the PAR program or other forms of counselling (marriage, anger, etc.) positive victim input, accepting responsibility by entering a guilty plea and receiving a sentence. If you are allowed to return home and have contact with your wife, you can also expect it will be contingent on a condition that allows your wife to revoke the permission she has granted you to communicate with her–better known as “written revocable consent”
I attended my first court appearance for domestassault charges and the disclosure given to me by the Crown said they wanted me to complete PARS program. Can you tell me more about PARS
Hello, I just wanted to know If you don’t have a criminal record and you get charged with domestic assault won’t they get off with a slap on the wrist?
Not entirely true, sir. Even if it is your first offence, being charged with a domestic assault charge is very serious and can result in both a jail sentence as well as a criminal record. It really depends on the facts of the case and the seriousness of the offence. Hope this helps!