Assault is one of the most commonly charged and prosecuted offences in Ontario. It is an allegation that one person has applied physical force against another person without their consent.
Domestic Assaults occupy a special place in the administration of criminal law. They arise in circumstances where the accused and the complainant are or were in a romantic relationship.
Domestic Assaults and Bail?
Most individuals charged with domestic assault are held for a bail hearing. Also, if released after a bail hearing, the accused person is normally required to reside with their surety. The core bail condition for persons charged with domestic assault is not to have contact with the complainant. When the complainant is the accused person’s spouse and the couple have children this condition can be an especially stressful but must be respected to avoid the potential for further charges. As a result of the non-contact condition, some accused persons may feel pressure to plead guilty so that they can resume contact with their spouse and return home sooner.
However, pleading guilty may be a short sighted approach as part of the sentence the accused person will usually be placed on a probation order with conditions and may have a criminal record. We will explore all options with you so that you are fully informed and aware of your legal rights.
Can Domestic Assault Bail Conditions be Changed?
The bail condition prohibiting contact between an accused person and the complainant can be changed through negotiations or by retaining our office to bring a bail review application. (For more information see our discussion on bail hearings).
What is the Early Intervention Domestic Assault Program?
The Crown Attorney’s default approach to prosecuting domestic assault cases is influenced by the Crown policy manual. Typically Crowns believe that for domestic assaults cases convictions are to be sought through trials or guilty pleas.
Domestic assaults are viewed as serious crimes. Indeed, every year there are a small number domestic incidents that result in homicides.
Proceeding to trial with a criminal defence lawyer to defend a domestic assault charge is an optimal way for a person to assert their innocence and test the Crownâ€™s case. Mirza Kwok Criminal Defence Lawyers are experienced trial lawyers that will vigorously defend your rights.
However, Mirza Kwok Criminal Defence Lawyers also appreciate that not everyone has the time or resources to take their case to trial. We possess extensive experience representing accused persons charged with domestic assault and have been able negotiate early resolutions that do not involve criminal convictions. It is important to understand that every case is different and the availability of an early resolution depends on numerous factors.
What is an Early Intervention Domestic Program?
Recently, more jurisdictions have adopted early intervention diversion programs for some domestic assault cases. For instance, domestic assaults deemed by a Crown prosecutor to be at the low end of the spectrum where the complainant suffered no injuries, is not afraid of the accused, and the accused has no criminal record may be eligible for the early intervention program.
The program typically involves the accused person completing an extensive domestic abuse counselling program for 16 sessions and demonstrating awareness of the lessons learned therein. Only after successful completion of the program will the accused be able to enter into a peace bond and the domestic assault charge will be withdrawn.
What is a Peace Bond?
In some cases, a peace bond can be a favourable way to resolve a domestic assault charge. A peace bond involves the accused entering into a formal court order with conditions such as to keep the peace and be of good behaviour; not to possess weapons and not to contact the complainant without his or her written revocable consent.
The peace bond typically expires after 12 months but can be of shorter duration if the Crown and Court agree. There also may be a requirement that the accused pledge a financial guarantee for a stipulated amount such as one thousand dollars. A deposit is usually not required.
Once the peace bond is signed the Crown withdraws the charge.
It is important that an accused person discuss with their criminal defence lawyer all available defences and options before accepting any resolution. An accused person should know the long term consequences of any resolution whether it be pleading guilty or accepting an early intervention program or peace bond.