Assault/Domestic Assault/Threat/Change of Bail Conditions
Charged with Domestic Assault?
An assault, especially a domestic assault, is a charge that is being laid by the police very routinely according to their “zero tolerance” policy. Interestingly, you are almost always better off if you assaulted a stranger as opposed to assaulting your domestic partner. The police has almost no discretion in terms of NOT laying the charge, if the victim is your romantic partner or a family member. In practice, it means that if your domestic partner (or you, or a passer-by) called the police and complained of a domestic assault, the police WILL come and investigate. Their job is NOT to pacify the situation. They would first and foremost be looking for:
1. Evidence (statement) of assault, i.e. “intentional application of force without consent”, or
2. Evidence of a threat to cause bodily harm or death, or to destroy property or kill animals.
(An insult or “verbal abuse” is not an offence in Canada, contrary to popular belief).
If, for example, your partner was hysterical and shouted at you and you decided to put your hand on your partners mouth to avoid embarrassment in front of your neighbours – you have likely committed a domestic assault. If this situation is reported to police, you will be charged, possibly subjected to a bail hearing, and prosecuted.
Whether released on a recognizance and promise to appear, or on bail, your main condition will be: not to have any contact (direct or indirect) with the alleged victim of domestic assault, and not to come close to the family house (if you resided together) and/or to your partners place of residence, work, study or worship. If you are found in breach of these conditions (for example, if the police discovers you and your victim together in a car during a routine traffic stop, or if your victim complaints to the police that you contacted her via text message), you will be arrested and subjected to a new bail hearing. New bail will be more difficult to obtain, and, if granted, the conditions are going to be in the nature of a house arrest.
What if my partner does not want to press charges?
From the Crown prosecutor’s perspective it matters little whether your partner wants to press charges or not. It is not your victim who is suing you. Rather, it is the state who is prosecuting you on behalf of the victim and other potential victims. The idea is to send a message out there that domestic violence will not be tolerated. The Crown is aware that the victims don’t want to press charges or continue with the charges in up to 90% of domestic cases, especially if they want to continue with the relationship.
That being said, it might be very helpful if the victim wishes to help. A proper way to do it is for the victim to contact and retain an independent lawyer and prepare an affidavit, explaining the situation