Ottawa Domestic Violence & Assault Lawyers
The Ottawa legal system takes an increasingly harsh view of domestic violence.
This, together with the complexities involved in domestic assault cases and the potential damage to your reputation even from an allegation of domestic assault, makes it essential to get experienced legal assistance as soon as possible.
The Affordable Defence legal team is ready to defend you against unfair domestic assault charges in Ontario.
Types of assault charges in Ontario
Assault charges encompass a wide range of offences in addition to simple assault. These can make the offence against a family member more serious.
These include the following:
Assault with a weapon
This charge combines assault with causing bodily harm using an object meant to threaten or injure another person.
This “weapon” needn’t be a knife or gun. It could be practically anything used to injure another person.
If you are charged with this offence, it may result in a lengthy prison sentence.
Assault causing bodily harm
You can be charged with assault even if nobody was injured. If actual physical harm is caused to another person, you may be charged with assault causing bodily harm.
This offence can lead to jail time – the more severe the injury to the other person, the longer the potential sentence.
Aggravated assault is even more serious. You may be charged with this if you wound, maim, disfigure or endanger the life of another person.
Aggravated assault is always treated as an indictable offence and liable to a lengthy-term of imprisonment (up to 14 years).
With sexual assault, physical harm does not need to have been caused but there needs to have been non-consensual sexual activity.
What is domestic assault in Ontario?
The Canadian criminal code does not specifically address family violence as a separate offence although the crime of assault is clearly defined:
265 (1) A person commits an assault when
- (a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
- (b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
- (c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.
This ranges from a fistfight where nobody is seriously injured to an organized assault with a deadly weapon that results in maiming or disfigurement.
When the violence is directed against a family member or someone with whom you share a domestic relationship, it is considered “domestic assault”.
Law enforcement in Ottawa will take it extremely seriously and an arrest will likely be made.
What is an emergency protection order?
An emergency protection order (EPO) may be ordered by a judge in the case of alleged domestic assault.
It is a legally binding order designed to protect an alleged victim from further domestic violence by prohibiting the accused from going near or communicating with the party or parties who have allegedly been assaulted.
The order may also grant special powers to the police when dealing with the alleged perpetrator of the family violence.
With credible complaints of domestic assault, the court can impose an EPO without the accused being present.
What are the best defences to a domestic assault charge?
Charges of domestic assault are highly emotional and stressful for those involved. During divorce cases especially, emotions such as anger and jealousy can lead to false allegations being made.
Defences against domestic assault often centre around the credibility of the complainant’s story when compared with the available evidence, such as witness testimony, phone records, video evidence, etc.
Another of the best defences is self-defence, though this can only be successfully argued when:
- Force is being used against you, or you had reasonable grounds to believe that force would be used against you;
- Your response to the threat was for the purpose of defending or protecting yourself from the threat or use of force;
- Your response was reasonable in the circumstances (depending on proportional force being used, your size compared to the complainant, and whether you were intoxicated at the time)
Violation of your Charter Rights by law enforcement is another commonly used defence in domestic assault cases. This can often lead to evidence being excluded and the prosecution’s case being severely weakened.
How can I get my domestic violence charges dropped?
The person who accuses you in a domestic assault case cannot get the charges dropped even if they withdraw the complaint.
The Crown Attorney will decide whether to charge you or not and the original complainant can even be subpoenaed to appear in court to give evidence against their will.
So, the only way to get domestic violence charges dropped and avoid a criminal charge is by one of the following methods:
- A statutory or common law peace bond – you must agree to abide by certain court-ordered conditions for a set period of time
- Obtaining a discharge – in exchange for pleading guilty to a charge, you make a deal with the Crown Prosecutor to join you in an application for discharge prior to trial (only possible if you can prove that this is not contrary to the public interest)
The only other way to avoid a criminal record is to go to trial and be acquitted.
What should you do next?
Domestic assault cases are complex.
The lawyers at Affordable Defence in Ottawa have extensive experience of working in such cases and can provide the legal guidance you need.
Call us at 613-223-4089 in Ottawa or Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case and receive advice on how best to proceed. Our Ottawa lawyers handle domestic violence cases with discretion for the sake of our clients’ protection.
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