There is no specific provision for domestic assault in Canada’s Criminal Code. Instead, domestic assault is included within the general assault charges starting at section 265 of the Criminal Code. It also relates to other sections in the Criminal Code such as (but not limited to): harassment, sexual assault, murder, and forcible confinement.
Domestic assault differs in that it is an assault against a family member or romantic partner. It is an alleged assault that occurs within the context of a domestic relationship (i.e. marriage, common-law, dating etc.).
Given the sensitive nature surrounding domestic assault matters, charges related to a domestic incident are prosecuted much differently than other offences. These matters are typically handled by a specialized group of Crown prosecutors in courts that exclusively deal with domestic assault matters. These courts are known as Domestic Violence Courts (“DVC”). Although these courts are not available in every jurisdiction, the ones that do have them offer a number of programs and services to victims and families of domestic violence.
CAN THE COMPLAINANT “DROP” THE CHARGES?
Oftentimes in situations of domestic assault, one party contacts the police in an effort to calm down the situation. Following the incident, the complainant may wish to “drop” the charges. However, it is a common misconception that the person who called the police has the power to “drop” charges. Once the police have laid charges, the decision to withdraw the charge(s) rests solely with Crown prosecutor and if the evidence supports the offence, the Crown will likely not withdraw the charge(s). The Crown prosecutor may request input from the police and/or the alleged victim but is not obliged to do so.
WHAT HAPPENS TO A PERSON CHARGED WITH DOMESTIC ASSAULT?
Once charged, the individual will need to go through the court process. Normally, individuals charged with domestic assault are arrested and detained pending the first court day. Accordingly, the first proceeding will be a “bail hearing”. Those granted bail would likely be subject to strict conditions that prohibit contact with the complainant, a “no contact order”, or access to the family home. If children are involved, special arrangements for visitation will need to be made. Such conditions are in place till the matter is resolved or is modified by the Court.
A qualified an experienced lawyer can assist in having bail conditions varied. The process is complex and costly, however, possible. Following the bail hearing, counsel can help navigate you through the complex legal system to resolve the matter. If you or a loved one find yourself in this position, contact Sack (Q.C.) and Bogle Law for assistance.
VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC ASSAULT
When a party is charged in the domestic assault context, the matter is essentially between the accused party and the Crown. Those are really the only two parties that dictate how the matter will proceed. However, the victims are usually in a position to give critical evidence in support of the prosecution or withdrawal of the charges before the Court. An experienced lawyer can help get your information across to the rightful party.
Further, it is important to know your rights and have a good understanding of the potential outcome of the matter. A qualified lawyer can help you understand what is at stake, the potential implications and how to safeguard yourself, especially in circumstances where a family law dispute may be imminent or expected (i.e. divorce, seperation, child custody, and access issues).
HOW CAN WE HELP?
The lawyers at Sack (Q.C.) and Bogle Law understand that charges resulting from a domestic incident have immediate and drastic implications on the parties involved. Families are separated, relationships are hurt and the possibility of a criminal record lingers. Our lawyers are both trained and experienced in dealing with domestic assault matters and can help you understand your options and move forward.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a domestic assault offence, contact Sack (Q.C.) and Bogle Law today for assistance.