Assault, Domestic Assault

Defending Against Domestic Assault Charges

When you are charged with domestic assault, you usually just want everything to go back to normal again as soon as possible. You have bail conditions that prohibit you from having contact with your spouse or children, and you may be forced to live somewhere else until the charges are dealt with. It may seem like a guilty plea is the quickest way to set things right, but a hasty guilty plea will likely not accomplish this, and your life will not be the same. The resulting criminal record and other conditions of your sentence can be onerous and impact your life long after the sentence has been served.

Call Tyler MacDonald to find out what your options are. Find out how you can be acquitted at trial, how the charges can withdrawn ("dropped"), or how a resolution can be negotiated which truly protects your interests -- today, and in the long-term.

The initial consultation is always free. Book your appointment to get the answers you need and to begin your defence.

General Information

There is no offence of "domestic assault" in the Criminal Code of Canada. It is a term that is applied by the Crown to almost any charge of assault where the accused has, or had in the past, any degree of an intimate relationship with the person referred to as the complainant. The complainant is the person who was allegedly assaulted (and may or may not be the person who actually contacted the police and made the accusation). Domestic assault charges are approached differently by the Crown prosecutor than other assaults, and therefore require different considerations in how they are defended against.

When police are contacted about a domestic assault allegation they take the accusations seriously, and will most likely charge the person accused of committing the assault. It generally will not matter whether the complainant tells the police that he or she does not want charges laid. The police do not respond to alleged domestic assault calls for the purpose of providing relationship counseling. They will attend and charge the accused person with assault where they have reasonable and probable grounds to do so. There do not have to be injuries visible for the police to have grounds to make an arrest. The grounds to arrest may be solely based on the word of a person claiming to have been assaulted or a person claiming to have witnessed an assault.

When a charge of assault is laid in a domestic context, the accused person will most likely be arrested, and will possibly be held for a bail hearing (also referred to as a “show cause” hearing). If released on bail, there will in almost every case be a bail condition prohibiting the accused from having contact with the complainant. This means that the accused must find a new place to live if the accused and the complainant were living together. It does not matter if the accused owns the home or was the only name on the lease for the rental unit. Unless the complainant is leaving that residence, it is the accused who must relocate.

There will often be children and property interests between the accused and the complainant. The non-contact condition can make access to children and property difficult or impossible. In those situations it is natural to have an urge to return the situation to normal as soon as possible, and there may be the temptation to just plead guilty to a charge right away, without legal advice. Instead, get legal advice. Contact Mr. MacDonald and find out how your charge can be dealt with in the most expeditious way toward the best possible results.

An offence of assault is committed where a person intentionally applies force to another person without their consent (though this is not the only act which amounts to an assault). Technically, just placing a hand on the shoulder of another person, without permission, is an assault. There is no special exception in domestic contexts which excuses the application of force to another person. Actions such as grabbing or holding someone just to calm them down in the middle of an argument will still constitute an assault. There are, however, defences to an assault charge. There are contexts in which using force against another person is allowed under law, and therefore not an assault. Consult with Tyler MacDonald to determine whether these defences apply to your case.