What To Do If You Are Charged With Domestic Assault

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If someone is charged with domestic assault in Canada, the first thing they should do is call an experienced domestic assault lawyer.  Domestic assault charges can be severe and carry harsh penalties, so it is important to have an experienced lawyer.  However, the importance of contacting a lawyer isn’t the only important thing to know about being charged with domestic assault.

Considerations for those Charged with Domestic Assault

There are several important considerations that need to be understood by anyone who has been charged with domestic assault. This article discusses what domestic assault is, the possible penalties for a conviction, and what to expect during the criminal process.

Please note that this blog post is for informational purposes only.  As such, it does not constitute legal advice.  If someone is facing domestic assault charges, they should contact a domestic assault lawyer to discuss their specific case.

What is Domestic Assault?

The Government of Canada defines domestic or family violence as “when someone uses abusive behaviour to control and/or harm a member of their family, or someone with whom they have an intimate relationship.” Assault can come in many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and neglect.

Read more about family violence laws in Canada here.

Penalties for Domestic Assault in Canada

The penalties for domestic assault depend on a variety of factors, including the severity of the assault, whether the victim sustained any injuries, and whether a weapon was used.

For summary convictions, the charged could face up to six months in prison. In the case of more serious offences when the Crown is prosecuting by indictment, the charged could face up to five years in prison.  In the case of sexual assault or assault that causes physical harm, the penalty rises to up to ten years in prison.  Finally, if a child under 16 is sexually assaulted or the assault is aggravated, the penalty could be up to 14 years in prison.

Read more about what happens if someone is charged with assault in Ontario in this post.

What to Expect During the Criminal Process

If someone is charged with domestic assault, they will likely be arrested and taken into custody.  They will then appear before a Judge or Justice of the Peace who will decide whether to grant them bail.  If they are granted bail, they will be released from custody until their next court appearance.  If they are not granted bail and detained, they will remain in custody until trial.

Their first appearance in court is when the Crown provides disclosure. Disclosure is the Crown’s evidence, and they MUST provide this. A skilled domestic assault lawyer will receive the complainant’s statement, medical documents, and all other relevant information.

From there, your domestic assault lawyer will schedule a Crown Pre-Trial (CPT) which is an informal discussion with the assigned Crown Attorney. Here your defence lawyer will explore any path to resolution or, if no suitable offer is made by the crown, your lawyer will get estimates as to the length of trial. A trial will be longer if there are more witnesses to testify and cross-examine.

After the CPT and depending on what happens at the CPT, your domestic assault lawyer will schedule  Judicial Pre-Trial (JPT). This is where the Crown, your domestic assault lawyer, and a Judge meet to finalize a potential resolution or complete final estimates for how long the trial will take. Sometimes, a Judge will make an offer to the defence lawyer and, depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may advise you to accept the plea position.

The time between the bail hearing and the JPT is normally around three (3) months.

If someone is convicted of domestic assault in Canada, the judge decides on an appropriate sentence.  The sentence may include a prison term, a fine, or both.  The judge may also order the convicted to complete a rehabilitation program or attend counselling.  Depending on the circumstances of their offence, they may also be required to give a DNA sample and have their name added to the sex offender registry.

Common Defences To Domestic Assault Charges

There are several defences to domestic assault charges that a domestic assault lawyer may raise on their client’s behalf.  Some of the most common defences include self-defence, defence of property, and mistaken identity.

Self-defence: If the accused can show that they only used force because they reasonably believed it was necessary to protect themselves or someone else from harm, they may be able to raise self-defence as a defence at trial.

Defence of property: If the accused can show they only used force because they reasonably believed it was necessary to protect their property from being damaged or destroyed, they may be able to raise defence of property as a defence at trial.

Mistaken identity: If the accused can show there is a reasonable possibility that someone else committed the offence, they may be able to raise mistaken identity as a defence at trial.

Prove It: Often, a skilled domestic assault lawyer will cross-examine the complainant/victim and find so many inconsistencies, the Judge will not believe their version of events. In that case, the Judge will acquit the client. It takes a highly-skilled domestic assault lawyer to be able to do this effectively.

These are just some of the possible defences to domestic assault charges.  To learn more about which defences may apply in a specific case, speak to a domestic assault lawyer as soon as possible.

FAQs

Will I go to jail for a first-time assault in Canada?

Not necessarily. For first-time offenders, there are some potential alternatives to jail time. These can include a fine, probation, or attendance at anger management or domestic violence program.

The main difference between assault and domestic assault is that domestic assault involves an act of violence against family members or intimate partners. On the other hand, assault can involve any type of violence against anyone, including strangers.

Hiring a domestic assault lawyer is crucial because it can help you avoid a conviction.  A conviction for domestic assault can mean jail time, a fine, or both.  It can also lead to a permanent criminal record, which can impact your ability to travel or find employment or housing.

If you have been charged with domestic assault, the best thing you can do is hire an experienced lawyer who can help you fight the charges and protect your rights.

When looking for a domestic assault lawyer, you should look for someone with experience in handling these types of cases.  They should also be familiar with the family violence laws in Canada and be able to provide you with a clear and strong defence strategy.

Don’t try to defend against domestic assault charges without a lawyer.  The consequences of a conviction are too serious to risk going it alone.

If you or someone you know has been charged with domestic assault, you should first call an experienced domestic assault lawyer who can help guide you through the process.  The KIV Law Defence Team is a group of experienced and capable domestic assault lawyers in Toronto that can help you get your life back.  Contact us today.

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