What Is The PAR (Partner Assault Response) Program?Andrew Captan
What Is the PAR Program?
The PAR program is a counselling program, operated through a variety of different service providers, that targets domestic violence at an early stage. The following are some of the topics covered in the program:
- Anger awareness (internal cues: psychological and physiological changes)
- Power and control issues in relationships
- Gender roles, men and abuse
- Anger interventions and applications e.g. non-retaliation in confrontations, defusing anger in interpersonal interactions, mindfulness in everyday life, letting go, keeping an anger journal
- Effective communication in the partner relationship
- Stress management in relationships
- Family of origin issues as these relate to partner assault
- Short and long term effects of partner assault
- The healthy partner relationship: core characteristics
- Non-violent behaviour and equality in relationships
- Forgiveness and the partner relationship
- Review of the above topics
Who is Eligible for the PAR Program?
There are two different types of PAR programs: (1) Court Operated (subsidized by the Ministry of Attorney General) and (2) Private PAR counselling. To be eligible for the Court Operated program, the Crown Attorney must agree to allow you to participate in the program. The Crown generally looks at (a) the seriousness of the offence; (b) whether there were injuries and (c) whether the accused has a record when deciding whether to offer the program to an accused person.
Anyone can complete private PAR counselling; the Crown does not have to approve the accused to enter this type of counselling. However, typically the accused would be asked to complete the Court Operated PAR program in order to achieve a specific resolution position that the Crown is offering.
What Happens After the PAR Program is Completed?
The Crown Attorney usually proposes 1 of 2 outcomes, after the successful completion of the PAR program: (1) a Peace Bond or (2) A Discharge (typically, a Conditional Discharge).
A Peace bond is an outcome that does not require the accused to admit criminal guilt. Because there is no admission of guilt, there is no criminal conviction registered. Rather, upon the signing of a Peace Bond, the Crown normally withdraws the criminal charges. A Peace Bond is the criminal equivalent of a Civil restraining order, and is a Court order binding an individual to follow certain conditions, usually for 12 months.
A Conditional Discharge, on the other hand, is a finding of guilt, and requires the accused person to enter a formal guilty plea in front of a Judge, admitting certain criminal wrongdoing (such as an Assault). If the Judge accepts the outcome, the offender is placed on a period of probation, usually for 12 months, during which they must follow certain conditions and usually report to a Probation Officer. Although a Discharge is a finding of guilt, it is not a criminal conviction in Canada.
An accused should always obtain legal advice before entering into either outcome, as there could be legal implications that are specific to their circumstances.
How Long is the PAR Program?
The PAR program is 12 sessions, with an additional intake session (so 13 appearances at the service provider in total).
What is the Format of the PAR Program Counselling?
The PAR program consists of group oriented counselling sessions, rather than 1 on 1. Groups range from 15 – 20 people. The groups are separated into male only and female only sittings. There are also same-sex couple groups, as well.
What Happens When I Complete the PAR Program?
After you complete the program, the PAR service provider you attended the sessions at will prepare a report for the Crown / Court. In order to achieve the result that was initially agreed on before you entered the program, the Crown and/or Court would want to see a “positive” report. To obtain a positive report, you must:
- Participate in the sessions;
- Not interrupt or disrupt the sessions;
- Not focus on the wrongdoing of another person, such as the complainant (but, rather, focus on what you could have done differently in the situation);
- Not be late for the sessions;
- Not miss any sessions without any legitimate reason
If you have been charged with a Domestic Assault or Domestic Violence offence and are being offered a chance to participate in the PAR Program, feel free to reach out to Andrew Captan – an Experienced Domestic Assault Lawyer – for a consultation about your rights and options in your case.