Domestic assault charges

An Introduction

Domestic Assault involves violence between family members, typically spouses, however, can also include casual relationships, former spouses, and parent-child relationships. 


How it Begins:

From the authorities perspective, the first documentation in the timeline of a domestic offence is initiated by the ‘911’ phone call. The 911 call is important for legal and policy reasons. For policy reasons, once a domestic 911 call is made, the police must further investigate to ensure public safety. For legal reasons, the 911 call provides the police with the requisite cause to begin their investigation. Typically, the 911 call is followed by a visit by two police officers whom will question the male and female separately, ultimately leading to criminal charges against the male party. 


Charged and Arrested: 

After the police attend the residence and arrest the accused, he/she is typically put into handcuffs and taken to the police station. For public policy reasons, the accused will typically not be released after arrest. This is to protect the complainant from immediate retribution. Rather, the accused will be held in custody (detained) until a bail hearing is held. The accused will be released only where/when a proper plan for bail has been put in place. For information on this please see the ‘bail hearing’ section of this website. In some cases, the accused will be held for many days until a surety arrives, and a formal show cause (or contested) bail hearing will occur. In other cases, a bail will be set, and remain set until an individual comes to sign the bail. 


Eventually the accused is either released, or plead guilty to the offence. If the accused is released, there are two typical standard conditions put in place in the majority of domestic assault cases: 

1) A no contact clause between the accused and the complainant (directly or indirectly)

2) A no attend condition that the accused not attend the reside/home of the complainant


Sometimes condition 2) has an added exception of: except in the company of a uniformed police officer to pick-up personal belongings.


The above-mentioned conditions are very important, and by-far the most breach-friendly clauses in the criminal justice system today. Spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends, and family members who are charged with domestic assault find it very difficult to stay away from their loved ones once charged and this leads to a FTC charge or Fail to Comply charge, which is a very serious offence. 


Difficulties regarding bail conditions should be discussed with a lawyer. A diligent lawyer will aim to understand the concerns of the client, educate the client about what options are available, outline the timelines, costs, and procedures involved, and recommend a course of action.
 

The Investigation

KGB statements (video statements by the complainant) are very common, along with signed statements and police notes. The police will also look into any past phone-calls to the police, and whether they are related to domestic assault allegations. Further, they will look to get statements from any potential witnesses of the event.
 

Charges brought forward by the Crown Attorney

For the complainant, it is very important to understand that once the accused has been arrested, the charges are now being brought forward by the Crown Attorney, and therefore they do not hold the power/authority to withdraw the charges. In many cases, the complainant (usually the wife) changes her mind, and feels that the accused (usually the husband) does not deserve to be charged or spend time in jail. Hence, the wife will ask that the charges be withdrawn, and that she either lied/or will not testify against her husband, however, she no longer is the party bringing forward the action, as that responsibility is now the Crown Attorney’s job and they will bring forward the charges with or without the consent of the complainant. 


The wife may have called the police under the mistaken belief that they would come to the house Faced with these circumstances, a complainant (the wife) wishing to have the charges withdrawn should consult her own lawyer regarding an appropriate course of action.
 

How Long Does it Take…

To go home?

When the accused gets out of jail, he typically wants out of the situation as fast as possible. This is due to a number of factors including the desire to see his kids/wife/girlfriend or go home and have things return to normal. While this is possible, the consequences of ‘making things go away as fast as possible’ is that the accused may have to plead guilty which means a criminal record. The Crown Attorney will use the DAP (Domestic Assault Program) as a carrot to entice the accused to admit responsibility, plead guilty and thus go home and continue relations with the complainant. 


Usually the only “quick way out” of this type of situation for an accused is through a guilty plea.  Otherwise, “domestic charges” can often take months to wind their way through the court system.  This often means that families will be apart for long periods of time.  Where there is a desire to reconcile, legal representation should be sought at the earliest possible stage to avoid unnecessary delay and hardship.  A good lawyer will be able to take appropriate action to ensure that the case moves ahead as quickly as possible.
 

For Trial?

When the accused gets out of jail, he typically wants out of the situation as fast as possible. This is due to a number of factors including the desire to see his kids/wife/girlfriend or go home and have things return to normal. While this is possible, the consequences of ‘making things go away as fast as possible’ is that the accused may have to plead guilty which means a criminal record. The Crown Attorney will use the DAP (Domestic Assault Program) as a carrot to entice the accused to admit responsibility, plead guilty and thus go home and continue relations with the complainant. 

At trial, the complainant will usually be called as a witness by the prosecution to prove the case against the accused.  In some situations the witness may testify to a different set of circumstances than that complained of to the police.  Alternatively, the witness may testify that she has forgotten what happened.  In either situation this will likely result in the Crown making an application to the court to have the witness declared a hostile witness or to have other previously recorded evidence admitted against the husband.  

 

At the conclusion of a trial there will usually either be a finding of “guilty” or “not guilty”.  A finding of “not guilty” ends the matter and the accused person is free to resume his life as it was before the charge.  A finding of “guilty” is followed by the sentencing process.  Sentencing may or may not result in jail time.  It will, however, usually result in some period of probation.  Probation orders typically include conditions that require the accused to attend some form of counselling and not to have any contact with the complainant except with her written and revocable permission.
Facing a “domestic charge” can be an overwhelming experience. An understanding of your situation is crucial dealing with the problem in an effective manner.  

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Early intervention by experienced, responsible legal counsel is crucial to effectively defending your freedom when you've been charged with a crime. You owe it to yourself to get a criminal defence lawyer that can give you the best possible representation and advice, inside and outside of the courtroom. Rishi Singh Law is ready to help you seek justice and get a superior defence. 

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