Domestic violence is considered a serious crime in Canada. Those charged with the crime can face severe penalties, such as jail time and Court-mandated courses and therapy. This is due to domestic violence being deemed more serious than other forms of assault that might occur outside the home. There are a few reasons for this:
- Domestic violence is a widespread issue in Canada and must be dealt with
- Domestic violence can have a devastating impact physically, mentally and emotionally on children, both in their youth and adulthood
- There is a higher risk that violence will escalate, resulting death or severe injury again in the future
If the prosecution has enough evidence to convict the accused, they will lay charges.
This is the process of how police in Canada charge someone for domestic violence.
The Crown Prosecution Establishes the Relationship & Crime
During the initial phase, the prosecutor and police leading the investigation will have to establish the extent of the crime, such as:
- That the victim was in a domestic relationship with the accused, such as being a family member, a spouse or common law partner
- That the accused used force, either directly or indirectly, to hurt or threaten the victim. They will also consider the use of words or actions as threats.
- If the accused used used a weapon or an imitation of a weapon
- That the accused initiated the threat of assault, coercion, sexual abuse and economic abuse
The Crown Prosecution Collects Evidence
From there, the prosecutor and police will have to collect evidence to prove their crime and submit the charges to court. Some examples of evidence can include the following:
- Testimony from the victim
- Medical history indicating physical or mental injuries
- Witnesses or character witnesses that prove the victim’s testimony
- If there is a history of violence
- Testimony from police officers who arrived at the scene
The evidence must prove that the charges are “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to get a conviction. The charges will then laid on the accused, setting up a trial date in Court.
How to Defend Yourself
People accused of domestic violence have the right to a fair trial and defend themselves. They will be assigned a public defender who will take their case on, or can choose to hire a domestic violence lawyer to defend them (https://www.dunlapcriminaldefencelawyer.com/domestic-violence/).
The defence lawyer will assess the evidence in the case, looking to contradict it in order to prove that their client is innocent or to reduce their sentencing. In many situations, the defence lawyer will collect their own evidence (similar to the prosecution’s own) to prove that their client is innocent.
There are a few avenues in which the lawyer can prove the charges wrong:
- That the contact was consensual. For example, if the partners agreed to take part in rough sex play, then it could be considered consensual.
- If the accused was incapacitated at the time, such as being drunk or high.
- It was an act of self-defence. The accused could have been trying to defend themselves and in the process, inflicted pain in the other person.
- If the victim is outright lying. In some cases, the victim could be lying to get the partner in trouble and therefore, contracting the evidence is crucial in this matter.
Once both parties have stated their cases, the jury will decide to convict the accused.
What Happens Next?
After hearing the evidence, the jury will decide on whether or not the accused is guilty.
If you are proved innocent, you are free to go, and you will not face any penalties. If you are guilty, depending on the degree of the assault and the number of charges, the judge will sentence you, explaining the penalties.
These can include anything from jail time (up to 10 years) to adhering to a peace bond, as well as restitution for damages, suspended sentences (i.e. remain under probation) or conditional sentences (i.e. house arrest). It all depends on the circumstances of each case. The domestic violence lawyer can explain the best outcome for the case, proactively ensuring that the accused follows along with their Court Orders.
If you have been charged with domestic violence, it’s important that you immediately speak to a lawyer so you can start building a case for your defence.