It is a common misconception that victims or complainants can simply request that their case be dismissed after accusing someone of domestic assault. However, complainants do not have the power to stop a criminal prosecution once it has been reported and charges have been pressed. Rather, criminal prosecution is the responsibility of the Crown Prosecutor, meaning that only Crown Attorneys have the authority to decide whether or not a charge should be dropped.
The Prosecution of Domestic Violence Cases
When police are called to investigate a domestic violence situation in Toronto, they must decide whether or not to make an arrest. They have the power to detain and hold someone in custody.
The victim of domestic violence, on the other hand, does not have the authority to have the charges dropped if they so desire. Crown Prosecutors have the authority to proceed with criminal charges or withdraw them based on the evidence and circumstances.
A professional domestic violence lawyer can assess each domestic violence case, assess the case the accused is facing, and help the accused get a favourable verdict. That is why hiring a lawyer is usually the best course of action.
Can Domestic Assault Charges ever be dropped?
Although it is not common for prosecutors to drop domestic assault charges, it is possible in the right circumstances.
The Crown Prosecutor considers the proper administration of justice when deciding whether to end proceedings by withdrawing or staying charges. The prosecutor will take into account whether there is a reasonable possibility of conviction, the safety of the complainant, and the public’s interest in the proceeding.
The Crown must consider all of the aforementioned factors when deciding whether or not to prosecute a case. If there is a constellation of the right circumstances, the prosecutor may agree to withdraw the charges. Their decision usually involves evaluating the following factors:
- The scope of the allegations – is this a case where injuries were sustained by the complainant?
- The evidence in the case – is the evidence credible in the case? Are the allegations corroborated by witnesses or photographs?
- The background of the accused – is the defendant a stranger to the criminal justice system, who has lived an otherwise legally blameless and pro-social life?
- Input from the complainant – does the complainant want to reconcile with the accused and is she supportive of the prosecution? While complainants do not get the final say, their input is often important to prosecutors.
- Upfront work – is the accused willing to do counselling that addresses anger or domestic violence concerns?
If the constellation of circumstances provides for a potential to withdraw the charges, the Crown might agree to do so if the accused enters a Peace Bond. An accused may enter into a Peace Bond, which binds them with certain conditions such as not communicating with the complainant, keeping the peace, and being of good behaviour. The criminal charges against the accused individual are dropped when they sign the Peace Bond, and the accused person has no criminal record. A Peace Bond is not a finding of criminal guilt.
At Karapancev law, we have a proven track record of securing Peace Bonds for our clients. If you have been charged with or have accused someone of committing domestic assault, please do not hesitate to reach out. We will review your case and determine the best course of action given the individual circumstances pertaining to the alleged incident.