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Defending Domestic Assault Cases: What You Need to Know [2023]

If you’ve been charged with domestic assault in Toronto, it’s essential to understand your legal options to make informed decisions and protect your rights. Domestic assault charges can have serious consequences, including criminal penalties, a criminal record, and a strain on personal relationships.

In this article, we will explore your legal options if you’re charged with domestic assault in Canada, including the defence available from criminal lawyers in Toronto and their ability to support your case. We will also discuss the legal procedures involved in domestic assault cases and your rights throughout the process. By understanding your legal options, you can make informed decisions and work towards the best possible outcome for you and your family.

What Is a Domestic Assault?

Domestic assault, also known as domestic violence, is abusive behaviour in a personal relationship that is used to gain power and control over the victim.

Domestic violence has been recently renamed as intimate partner violence and can occur in a variety of forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse.

Examples of Domestic Violence include:

  • an intimidating gesture or action
  • a physical assault
  • extremely aggressive or threatening speech
  • implying physical harm to another person

It can happen between spouses, partners, family members, or anyone who shares a close relationship. Domestic assault is a serious criminal offence in Canada, and perpetrators can face severe legal consequences, including imprisonment, fines, and a criminal record.

Common Difficulties of a Domestic Assault Charge

Every domestic assault case is unique, and therefore the qualifying criteria act as a guideline – law enforcement and the Crown’s office ultimately make a determination if a case is a domestic assault or one of “intimate partner violence.”

If deemed as a domestic assault by the Crown, your case is likely to proceed with alleviated worry and this may harm your bail and other release chances. If the Crown persuades the bail to impose onerous conditions, your freedom is at risk, and you could be denied certain freedoms while awaiting trial.

Your release conditions may be more restrictive because the Crown’s office suspects you are at risk of directing further violence toward the alleged victim of the case. Therefore, the Crown will proceed with caution until more information is provided in disclosure.

A tiny mistake could seriously dampen the chances of your case when brought to court. It is vital that you seek assistance from an experienced domestic assault lawyer in Toronto.

If you face a Domestic Assault Charge, what steps should you take?

It is important that you are respectful and comply with police arrest – do not try and resist, no matter how innocent you feel. Resisting direct police orders can lead to a plethora of other problems and is likely to result in escalated charges.

If arrested, the ONLY legal obligation you have is to provide your name and personal identifiers to identify yourself. Afterwards, it is advised that you ask to speak to a lawyer immediately. The police may ask you other questions upon arrest, but answering these is much more likely to harm your case rather than help it. Stay calm because the police cannot ask you any more questions until you have been able to speak to a lawyer.

It is within your rights to remain silent, once self-identified, and your right to silence cannot be used against you later in your case.

Successful Defences to a Domestic Assault Charge

Commonly occurring within residences without other witnesses present, there are usually issues of credibility in domestic assault cases – because it is your word against theirs.

In order to make the most accurate decision, a judge may take the necessary steps to determine the credibility of the complainant.

To effectively defend against a domestic assault charge, your Toronto criminal lawyer will make challenge the credibility of the complainant and demonstrate the implausibility of the case to the judge.

Another issue common in these matters is that domestic assault cases are sometimes the result of an initial attack by the complainant which triggered a self-defence reaction from the accused.

To qualify as self-defence (Section 34 of the Criminal Code), the judge must be satisfied that:

  • force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person.
  • the act that constitutes the offence is committed to defend or protect themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force.
  • the act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.

What if I’m Falsely Accused?

There is real potential for a domestic assault allegation to damage your reputation, and it is for this reason that false allegations are sometimes made. Also, false claims may occur at times of extremely high tension or when a criminal record provides the complainant with leverage over you, such as during a child custody battle.

Committed legal representation from a domestic assault lawyer provides pragmatic approaches to dismantling these false claims. Your best steps towards a successful defence and dismissed case are with an experienced legal team in Toronto.

What are the consequences of a guilty verdict?

If found guilty, you face serious consequences involving prison time, probation, and potentially a fine.

A maximum sentence of 5 years is possible if the Crown proceeds by indictment on a count of simple assault, which can extend to 10 years if charged as assault causing bodily harm or assault with a weapon.

For more minor offences, a maximum sentence of 2 years (less a day) with a $5,000 fine is possible for summary conviction.

Serious aggravated assault or sexual assault of a child under 16 years can lead to a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Trusted Lawyers

Navigating a domestic assault case charge is complex and mistakes are easily made, often without knowing. In circumstances of one person’s word against another’s, it sometimes requires more than good faith to have your charge overturned.

Trusted criminal lawyers in Toronto will listen to your story and commit to representing your account of events with integrity and dedication. Effective legal counsel is here to help avoid undue damage to your life and reputation – get in touch today.

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Alexander Karapancev

Alexander Karapancev is a Toronto criminal lawyer practicing throughout the province of Ontario. He regularly serves as lead trial counsel on serious and complex criminal cases. He is the founder of Karapancev Law, a law firm representing clients facing criminal charges, regulatory offences, and professional discipline proceedings.

Mr. Karapancev has acted as counsel in hundreds of cases throughout the province of Ontario, regularly representing clients at trials, applications, bail hearings and preliminary inquiries. He is regularly retained to defend individuals charged with serious allegations of fraud, drug trafficking, DUI offences, domestic assault, and sexual assault. Prior to founding his law firm, Mr. Karapancev practiced criminal defence at a boutique Toronto law firm and also served as a per diem Crown prosecutor.

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