Domestic Assault Lawyer in Toronto

Andrew Captan is an Experienced Domestic Assault Lawyer.  A large portion of his practice dedicated to defending persons charged with Domestic Assaults and Domestic Violence related charges.  People often refer to Domestic Assault Charges as any of the following:

  • Domestic Violence Charges
  • Spousal Assault Charges
  • Family Violence Charges

This page is your one stop shop to learning about these types of cases and carefully planning your next steps if you’ve been charged with a Domestic Assault in Toronto – I hope it helps!

What Is A Domestic Assault?

There is no section of the Criminal Code of Canada that specifically creates a “Domestic Assault” offence.  A Domestic Assault is an Assault based that is alleged to have occurred during the course of, or shortly after, a domestic relationship.    An Assault can be generally described as any intentional physical contact, or the threat thereof, made to another person to which the other person does not consent.

The following are some of the possible Assault charges that can be laid in a Domestic context:

  • Domestic Assault
  • Domestic Assault with Weapon
  • Domestic Aggravated Assault
  • Domestic Assault Causing Bodily Harm
  • Domestic Sexual Assault

Incidence of Domestic Assault In Canada

According to Statistics Canada, police reported Domestic Violence has been on the rise.  In 2021, there were 127,082 victims of police-reported family violence.  This number has increased five years in a row.  Some other key statistics on the subject:

  • Female victims comprised 69% of police report cases
  • The rate of family violence was twice as high for women and girls as compared with men and boys

Statistics Canada only collects data on reported incidents of crime.  The numbers referenced are surely only the tip of the iceberg as far as the incidents of Domestic Assaults go in this country.  There are many reasons why these crimes may not be reported, including fear on the part of the victim(s) that they will be separated from their loved one if they make a report to the police.

How Are Domestic Assaults Treated By Police?

Police have a policies that limit their discretion when investigating a Domestic Assault case in Toronto.  Chances are, if a complaint is made to the police, and the police have reasonable grounds to believe a Domestic Assault has been committed, then charges will be laid.

What Happens When I Am Charged with a Domestic Assault in Toronto?

If you have been charged, you would have either been released by the police on an Undertaking to a Peace Officer or held for a bail hearing.  In either situation, you will be fingerprinted by police, be required to attend court and will likely have to follow a list of conditions.  These conditions can significant restrict your liberty, particularly as it relates to having contact with your loved one or partner who is the alleged victim or complainant.

It is crucial that you review your release conditions with a Toronto Domestic Assault Lawyer, as the conditions may be confusing and require explanation.  Failure to abide by these conditions can lead to a criminal charge of Fail to Comply.

Some terminology that you might see on your conditions include the following:

  • That you cannot communicate or have contact with the victim directly or indirectly. This means that any contact, even passing on messages to the other person, could get you in trouble
  • You can have access to a child through a “mutually agreed upon third party” only. If you have a child with the victim, then a third party who both of you agree on would have to facilitate access to any child or children in the relationship, since you would be prohibited from communicating with the other party yourself
  • You can only have contact with the victim if the victim files his/her written (and orally revocable) consent with a particular party, usually the police.  This means that if the victim provides the named individual or officer a letter expressing they wish to have contact with you, contact would be permitted.  However, they could orally revoke that consent at any point in time, meaning that you would need to terminate contact thereafter.

Moreover, upon being charged with a Domestic Assault or Spousal Assault offence, you would be entitled to speak to a Domestic Assault Lawyer in Toronto – this is a constitutional right under section 10(b) of the Charter or Rights and Freedoms.  It is often helpful to speak to a lawyer right away, as the lawyer will instruct you on what to do while in police presence.  Also, it is possible that your Domestic Assault Lawyer speak to the police directly to inquire what types of conditions they intend to release you on, if they intend to release you at all.  A lawyer may be able to point out certain conditions that should be added to your release, depending on your personal situation.

I Cannot Have Contact With My Partner / Significant Other.  What Can I Do To Change That?

This is one of the first questions we receive as Toronto Domestic Assault Lawyers.

The difficulty with facing a Domestic Assault charge is that, almost always, the accused person will be released on conditions which directly and indirectly prohibit contact or communication with the complainant or the alleged victim of the offence. This is so even if the accused and the complainant are married, have children, share financial obligations, etc. The lives of each party in a Domestic Assault case can be impacted significantly and adversely in light of the nature of the accused’s release conditions.

Generally Speaking, there are 2 ways in which to “apply” to have your conditions changed:

  1. You can make a request for an “on-consent” release / bail variation to the Crown Attorney;
  2. You can make an application to a Judge (either a Bail or Undertaking Review application, depending on how you were released).

Typically, the Crown Attorney will not consent to changes to these contact restrictions unless there has been a resolution meeting, and unless the defence and Crown have come to some agreement with respect to resolving the case.

If the Crown Attorney does not consent to the variation request, the only other option is for the accused to bring a motion in front of a Judge.  That motion usually requires there to be a material change in circumstances, such that it would be reasonable to remove the contact restriction.

How Are Domestic Assaults Treated in Courts?

Domestic violence cases are treated differently than violence that takes place outside the domestic context by both the Crown Attorney and Courts (Judges).  For example, under s. 718.2(a)(ii) of the Criminal Code of Canada, there is explicit mention that an offence which involves abuse of one’s spouse is an aggravating factor.  An Aggravating factor is a factor that tends to increase the severity of punishment, if an accused is found guilty.  Moreover, the Crown Attorney has a specific policy on how to prosecute Domestic Violence cases.

What is the “PAR” Program?

If you are alleged to have committed a “low level” Domestic Assault and you have no prior criminal record, then the Crown may offer you a chance to participate in what is known (in the Crown’s office) is the “Early Intervention” program (or EIP for short).  The program requires the accused person to complete counselling, in the form of the PAR Program (which stands for Partner Assault Response).  Following successful completion of that counselling, the Crown will either offer a Peace Bond or agree to a Discharge (which is a finding of guilt but not a criminal conviction).

The PAR Program is 12 sessions in length, and usually group oriented.  The purpose of the program is to educate individuals in a variety of topics for the purpose of reducing the risk of Domestic Violence arising in the relationship in the future.

For more information, feel free to visit the John Howard Society’s website.

Potential Penalties in Domestic Assault Cases in Toronto

There is no minimum punishment for a Domestic Assault case, and a wide range of potential outcomes exist.  Where an accused falls within that range will vary depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • Whether they’ve been arrested or investigated before for similar activity;
  • Whether they have a prior related record;
  • Whether there were any injuries or other adverse impacts on the complainant;
  • The facts on which guilt was either admitted (or found, if it was at a trial);
  • The number of incidents in question.

The best case scenario is if the Crown withdraws the charges against the accused or if the accused is found not guilty after a trial.   There are 2 ways in which the Crown can withdraw charges:

  1. Unconditionally; or
  2. By way of a Peace Bond.

A Peace Bond is basically a Court order which compels the accused to follow certain conditions, usually for 12 months.  It is used to manage “risk” of further criminal behaviour during the period after the Crown withdraws the charge(s).    By signing a Peace Bond, the accused does not have to admit guilt.  There is usually at least an implicit admission that a breach of the peace occurred, or that the accused may have caused the complainant to fear for their safety.  The Crown Attorney withdraws the criminal allegations upon the signing of the Peace Bond.

Courthouses Serviced for Domestic Assault Cases

Andrew Captan’s office is located in the Cabbagetown area of Downtown Toronto, and regularly appears in the Downtown Toronto courthouses for these types of cases (such as Old City Hall and College Park).   He also takes on Domestic Assault / Violence cases throughout the Greater Toronto Area’s criminal courthouses, such as:

  •  1000 Finch
  •  2201 Finch
  •  Scarborough
  •  Oshawa
  •  Newmarket
  •  Brampton
  • And More!

Contact an Experienced Domestic Assault / Domestic Violence Lawyer

If you are a loved one is facing a Domestic Assault, contact an experienced Domestic Assault / Domestic Violence lawyer for a FREE consultation, and learn about how these cases are typically defended.