Andrew Captan is a Criminal Lawyer with extensive experience in, and a large part of his practice dedicated to, defending persons charged with Domestic Assaults and Domestic Violence.
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.
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.
I Cannot Have Contact With My Partner / Significant Other. What Can I Do To Change That?
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:
- You can make a request for an “on-consent” release / bail variation to the Crown Attorney;
- 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.
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 Outcomes in Domestic Cases
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:
- Unconditionally; or
- 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
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.