The only difference between regular assault and domestic assault is that a domestic assault happens between two individuals who are currently, or were previously, dating, in a common law relationship, or married. As such, when an assault is alleged to have occurred between two people who fit into one of the above relationship classifications, then it is treated as a "domestic matter" by the Crown Attorney's office and dealt with in a completely different way.
While the Criminal Code of Canada does not make a distinction between regular assault and domestic assault, the Ontario Crown Attorney's office does. In fact, domestic assault matters are dealt with separately than the other criminal charges by a team of specialized prosecutors who deal exclusively with these types of offences.
Similarly, the police have also developed specialized procedures and standards for domestic assault matters. The most significant of these is a strict policy of charging a person alleged to have assaulted another in a domestic-context, despite the absence of any independent evidence proving the allegations. Therefore, someone could be charged with domestic assault based solely on the allegations of a complainant. There doesn't need to be any proof of injuries, or witnesses who saw the assault take place.
What often happens in these situations is the complainant will regret getting the police involved after the anger and shock from the incident has passed. This is because there's usually a communication ban imposed on the accused banning them from contacting the complainant. This usually isn't the result that the complainant wanted, so they try and "drop the charges" against the accused to bring things back to normal again.
From the Crown Attorney's perspective, they decide whether to prosecute a matter based upon what the "reasonable prospect of conviction" is for that matter. What a complainant wants does not factor into the Crown Attorney's calculus when deciding whether or not to prosecute a matter. As such, a complainant in a domestic assault matter does not have the power to have the charges dropped, and the prosecution will continue irrespective of their wishes.
There are, however, ways to legally change the statement that a complainant gave to police about the incident. As the risk of perjury is very present in situations like this, one would really benefit from the expertise of a Toronto Domestic Assault Lawyer, who can help you navigate this very delicate and risky process. At LawyerSelect.ca, we can help complainants and victims to find the right Domestic Assault Lawyer for you.
Persons charged with domestic assault should prepare for an aggressive prosecution by the Crown Attorney's office. It all starts with the arrest and charge itself: despite the absence of corroborative, independent evidence of the allegations, the accused is nonetheless charged with the offence. This is atypical of police investigation techniques and standards, which usually require an independent investigation into the allegations before charges are laid. Next, the accused will likely be held by police overnight and put in front of a Judge or Justice of the Peace the following day, who will decide the issue of bail. The Crown Attorney will usually oppose bail, and if they don't, they'll insist that the accused be subject to restrictive conditions on their movements and communication. The accused will usually be forced to move away from the home they shared with the complainant, and will definitely not be allowed to speak directly or indirectly with the complainant. These bail conditions usually stay in effect until the matter is finally dealt with. So it should be clear to you that domestic assault allegations are serious charges, and we understand that at LawyerSelect.ca. We're a totally free Lawyer Referral Service, and we'll help you find the right Toronto Domestic Assault Lawyers for your case. Call us anytime for a Toronto Lawyer Referral.
The term "domestic assault" is a kind of catchall phrase, which may include several different types of offence separate from assault. Additionally, the circumstances giving rise to the charges will also vary a great deal. Below, we identify some of the situations that are typical to domestic assault charges.
He Said-She Said:
This is one of the more common types of domestic assault, where the accused and the complainant have two different versions of the events that lead to the charges. From a prosecutorial perspective, this kind of situation can be difficult to prove in court, since there is rarely any independent-corroborative evidence to prove the allegations. Unlike the Crown Attorney and the police, the Courts will not usually convict an accused for domestic assault based simply on allegations alone. There needs to be something more.
Minor Allegations & No Assaultive Behaviour:
This type of case usually results when one party makes threats towards another party, but doesn't act on it. In situations like this, the most appropriate resolution would be a Peace Bone (discussed further below). The accused enters into a Peace Bond without pleading guilty to the charges, which doesn't result in a criminal record. The terms of the Peace Bond are usually to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
More Serious Allegations & No Significant Injury:
Usually cases that fit under this heading are ones where there was an actual physical altercation that ensued, but which did not cause a significant physical injury. These types of matters usually resolve in a discharge, whether absolute or conditional, based upon the nature of the allegations. This will require the accused to plead guilty to the charges, but no criminal record will result. The accused will also likely have to do some upfront work, like participating in the Partner Assault Response Program (PARS). After completion of this program, the accused will be granted a discharge. If the discharge is conditional, then a period of probation will follow, which may have some restrictive conditions on the accused.
Serious Allegations - Sustained Injuries & Weapons Use:
These types of cases are on the more serious end of the spectrum, and usually result in serious bodily injury as a result of the use of a weapon of some sort. Persons charged with this class of the offence should always seek an informed legal opinion, as they may have defences available to them, like self-defence and defence of a third-party. Most of the time, the determining factor as to whether these types of defences exist is the degree of force used by the accused.
The less serious incidents of domestic assault as usually settled by way of a Peace Bond. The accused enters into a Peace Bond much in the same way that a person enters into a contract. They agree to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, as well as abide by any other terms that are included for the duration of the Peace Bond. Upon entering into the Peace Bond,the charges are withdrawn at the request of the Crown Attorney. The typical length of a Peace Bond is 12 months. Many accused are happy to enter into the Peace Bond, as it usually brings the matter to an end without a permanent stain on their criminal record. At LawyerSelect.ca, we'll help you find the right Toronto Domestic Assault Lawyer for your case.
Domestic assault charges are serious, and need to be treated seriously by those charged of it. The Crown Attorney's office prosecutes domestic assault charges quite vigerously, and once the initial complaint is lodged and the accused charged, there's no one that can stop the process, except the Crown Attorney's office. So there's no mistaking the fact that you need the assistance of someone with experience working with the Crown Attorney.
There are also several legitimate defences that you may have to the charges. Self-defence is used often in domestic assault cases, as are other legal defences. An experienced Toronto Domestic Assault Lawyer can help identify these defences and guide you through the criminal justice system.
If you are the complainant/victim, you may be seeking legal advise regarding the changing of your statement to police regarding the incident. It is definitely not uncommon for complainants to forget certain facts, or exaggerate others. There is something you can do. An experienced Toronto Domestic Assault Lawyer can help you change your statement while staying within the bounds of the law.
At LawyerSelect.ca, we'll put you in contact with experienced Toronto Domestic Assault Lawyers - Find a Domestic Assault Lawyer in Toronto now!