I Have Been Charged with Domestic Assault. What Happens Next?

If you have been charged with domestic assault, it is important to speak to an Ontario criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. As reported by the Globe and Mail, the Crown takes domestic assault cases very seriously. Individuals can find themselves thrown in jail and subject to prosecution before they even have a chance to really explain what happened.

Although Canada’s “zero tolerance” domestic assault law is designed to protect people from abusive partners, it often has the effect of condemning innocent spouses and partners to time behind bars for a simple misunderstanding.


What Is a Domestic Relationship?
Although many people associate domestic violence with assault against women in an intimate partnership, a “domestic relationship” can mean a lot of different things. It can describe a husband and wife, or a conflict among same-sex or common law partners. “Domestic relationship” also applies to girlfriends and boyfriends, as well as conflicts between parents and children and other family members.

Once the Crown determines an assault is domestic in nature, the case takes on an additional gravity and degree of severity. Frequently, this mean the accused has a harder time obtaining bail. He or she may also be ordered to stay away from home or prohibited from having any contact with the complainant.

The idea behind this approach is that protecting the abused partner is paramount, as many abusers get out of jail and “punish” their victim for filing a complaint or contacting the police. Unfortunately, it often results in severe financial hardship for the people involved, as the accused may be forced to rent an apartment and take on other extra expenses while the case is pending. This can have a negative impact on the entire family, as parents are denied contact with their children and spouses must stay apart while the Crown decides whether to move forward with the case.

What If My Partner Wants to Withdraw the Charges?
In many domestic assault cases, people mistakenly believe the person who made the complaint has the authority to withdraw the charges. This is incorrect, as it is only the Crown that can determine whether the case moves forward. Furthermore, the Crown will not dismiss the case simply because the victim decides he or she does not want to continue it.

Fortunately, an experienced criminal defence lawyer can help. There are many ways to show that a domestic assault case should not proceed. Your lawyer can present evidence of your good character and reputation. Your lawyer can also show the Crown the alleged victim does not fear the accused and wishes to resume contact. In many cases, it is possible to negotiate a lesser charge or an alternative to jail time.

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