If you’re facing domestic assault charges, there’s no doubt that you’re in a serious situation.
There is little sympathy from anyone in the justice system for somebody accused of violence against a family or household member in Ontario.
However, charges get dropped, people get wrongly accused and criminal defence lawyers are often successful in winning cases…so all is not lost.
Going to jail is by no means a certainty if you are accused of domestic violence — and if you’re a first-time offender, you’re far more likely to receive some leniency than repeat offenders, especially if you have legal representation.
Let’s look at some of the main questions asked by those involved in domestic assault cases in Ontario.
Learn More → How Can I Get My Criminal Charges Dropped?
Will I go to jail for domestic assault if I’m a first-time offender?
If you’re convicted of domestic assault in Ottawa, you will face harsher penalties than with a simple assault charge. When family or household members are involved, it is considered an “aggravating” factor during sentencing.
Another factor that increases the likelihood of jail time is that the prosecution rarely drops domestic violence charges — even if the victim wants to withdraw charges.
However, a conviction for domestic assault carries no minimum term of imprisonment in Canada, so there is some flexibility afforded to those who are found guilty of the offence.
Each domestic assault case is different but the following penalties can be applied by the judge in such cases:
- Up to two years less a day of jail for a summary conviction (for minor offences)
- Up to five years in jail for an indictment (for the most serious offences)
- Up to 10 years in jail for sexual assault or assault causing bodily harm
- Up to 14 years in jail for aggravated assault or if a child under 16 years old was sexually assaulted
Aggravating factors that make jail time far more likely include bodily injury to a person or the use of a weapon. An assault on a vulnerable victim (e.g., a child or aged victim) is also considered more serious.
Jail time remains a real possibility for any charge of domestic assault and it’s important to speak to a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible if you’re in this situation.
Fortunately, judges do take onto account past behaviour when sentencing so if you’re a first-time offender, there may be alternative options to jail available.
What are the main alternatives to jail for a first-time domestic assault offender?
Alternative options to jail will vary according to the circumstances of the crime you’re convicted of.
In relatively minor domestic assault cases, a skilled criminal defence lawyer may not only be able to prevent jail time but also prevent a criminal record. Instead, even if you’re guilty, the judge may decide to impose one of the following sentences:
Three common domestic violence charge questions
To give yourself the best possible chance of escaping these consequences, speak to a domestic assault lawyer from Affordable Defence in Ottawa during a free consultation.