Charged With Domestic Assault
Although there is no specified offence listed within the Criminal Code for Domestic Assault, the police, the Crown and the courts take these kind of offences very seriously given the intimate nature of these offences are and how prevalent domestic violence is in Canada. There are potential serious consequences for being charged with then convicted of this type of offence. It is important that you know and implement your fundamental rights provided under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and speak with an experienced criminal lawyer who may be able to successfully defend the charges for you to avoid a potential criminal record.
Speak with a lawyer
When placed under arrest, a police officer must inform you of your rights which include the right to remain silent, the right to a lawyer without delay and the officer must provide a caution indicating that anything you say may be used against you. It’s always recommended that a person should exercise these rights by remaining silent and speak with a criminal lawyer as soon as possible to obtain legal advice. Remember, nothing you say to a police officer will get the charges withdrawn and anything you say may be used against you later. When arrested for domestic assault, it is likely you will be held for a bail hearing where the Crown will have to prove why you should not be granted bail. By exercising your right to speak with a lawyer, they can advise you on the bail process, what you need to do to ensure you are granted bail or even contact a friend or family member to act as your Surety and negotiate your release with the Crown Attorney.
Comply with bail conditions
If you are granted bail and get released, it is imperative you understand and comply with all your bail conditions. By doing so, you will avoid additional criminal charges for failing to comply with the conditions, being arrested again and go through another bail hearing where this time, you will have to prove why you should be granted bail. An experienced criminal defence lawyer is best able to fully explain your conditions to ensure you are fully able understand and comply with them.
Retain a criminal defence lawyer
You may choose to retain a criminal defence lawyer to represent you at your initial bail hearing and for the remainder of your case. Because there are bail conditions that could immediately impact your family and current living situation and because of the serious consequences from Domestic Assault convictions that could impact your family, current employment, future employment and travel it is highly recommended that you retain an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible. A criminal defence lawyer will provide immediate access to legal advice, identify what your options are to achieve the best possible result and navigate your charges through the criminal justice system by representing you on court dates, advocating on your behalf and ensuring you are treated fairly throughout the process.
Your version of events
In Canada, everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty so it is important to ensure that your version of events from the alleged Domestic Assault are recorded as soon as they occur, once you are either released from jail or meet with your lawyer. Writing these down provides a fresh detailed account of the events that will not only assist your memory but possibly your lawyer in developing your defence strategy. Remember to only share this with your lawyer and ensure no one else can gain access to the document at any time.
Discussing your case
If you chose to retain a criminal defence lawyer, they should be the only person you speak with about your charges unless they advise differently as your lawyer and the employees of their firm are bound by confidentiality not to disclose anything you say to them or any details of your case. This includes family members, colleagues and even lifelong best friends. If you chose to discuss your charges with anyone else the possibility exists that they may tell someone else and no one wants to deal with the potential stigma surrounding criminal charges, especially Domestic Assault charges.
Obtaining a peace bond to resolve a Domestic Assault
In Domestic Assault allegations, the Crown may offer or agree to withdraw the charges on the condition the accused enters into a peace bond first where if the accused refuses, the Crown will proceed with the charges. A peace bond is a promise made by the accused to the court to keep the peace, behave and follow the conditions set out within the peace bond. There are two kind of peace bonds, neither is an admission nor a finding of guilt. Withdrawal of a criminal charge in exchange for entering into a peace bond can be very acceptable for the client given the peace bond eventually expires, although breaching a peace bond can carry consequences, especially for an accused previously charged with Domestic Assault. An accused charged with Domestic Assault should carefully consider entering into a peace bond.
The nature of a Domestic Assault charge involves a history or relationship between the accused and the complainant, therefore the two are likely remain in each other’s lives after the charge has been withdrawn. An important factor for an accused to consider is where the accused maintained the allegations by the complainant were untrue and entered into the peace bond to resolve the matter. There remains a likelihood the complainant could make up further allegations in future where the accused could be charged with not only new criminal charges but also charges for breaching the peace bond. It doesn’t take much to allege a breach of a peace bond, as a complainant only has to allege the accused breached one of the conditions.
It must be said that a peace bond creates a presumption that the accused did do something wrong but got a break, thereby treating the accused person with greater prejudice in future. Another factor for an accused to consider is in family court where the peace bond may work against the accused involved in a family court proceeding with the complainant. The complainant or their lawyer may claim the peace bond establishes a concern with the accused’s behavior where they could argue or request there be limited or supervised access to children involved in the case. Also, an accused would have to consider the restrictions put in place on the peace bond where they would have to remain a certain distance from the complainant. If they were living in the matrimonial residence prior to the peace bond, without the complainant’s written and revocable consent, the complainant would maintain sole possession of the matrimonial home until the courts provide a final order and the accused would have to reside elsewhere.