Domestic Assault

Have You Been Charged with Domestic Assault?

Domestic Violence and Assault

The police, the crown attorney’s office and our courts take allegations of domestic assault very seriously. The reason is that they know that domestic violence is a serious social problem in Canada. The statistics show that approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will suffer from domestic abuse in their lifetime.

The law surrounding domestic violence has changed over time and continues to evolve as our society becomes more aware of this issue. The definition of “domestic” has also expanded to include dating relationships as well as spouses or common-law partners. In most cases, a charge of domestic assault can be defended by raising reasonable doubt that an assault occurred or defending against allegations that the accused has committed an offence under section 266(1A) Criminal Code (Canada).

If you have been charged with domestic assault, it is important to understand the process and how to defend yourself.

Domestic Violence and Assault
The police have been called to a domestic assault. What happens now?

The police will investigate the alleged domestic assault. In doing so, they may examine any physical injuries to the victim and any other damage relating to the alleged assault. They will interview both the alleged victim and the accused. If someone else witnessed or heard part of the incident, they might be interviewed as well. The police will also try to gather any other evidence that might support their investigation and prosecution of an offence.

After investigating, if they think they have reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has occurred, they will arrest the person(s) involved. 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. 

If my Bail Conditions will not allow me to return to my home or see my kids, 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.

Charged with Domestic in Hamilton Can charges be dropped if my significant other or “victim” doesn’t show up to court?

It is unlikely that the charges will be dropped if the alleged victim does not show up for court. 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?

The first thing to do is to get a good lawyer. If you are charged with assault, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on what your options are. If the Crown decides to prosecute you for assault, they will rely on the testimony of their witness – the alleged victim. If there is no video evidence or other reliable witnesses, then the case can go either way.

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