Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Facts

What You Need to Know

More often than not if police are called to your residence in relation to a domestic violence dispute, charges will most likely be laid. Police and prosecutorial policy now dictates that anyone charged with a domestic violence offence be prevented from having contact with the alleged victim or returning to the residence where the alleged incident took place. Changes to the Criminal Code of Canada also make it mandatory to include conditions that prevent contact with the complainant or victim if you are convicted of a domestic violence offence.

One common misconception about domestic violence charges is that the victim or complainant can simply ask for the charges to be dropped. That is not the case. Once an assault or threat is reported to police and a charge is laid it is no longer the complainant or victim’s decision about whether or not to drop the charges. The Crown, or the state, is responsible for criminal prosecutions. That means that only a prosecutor can make the decision about whether or not to drop a charge or proceed in some other fashion.

Our criminal lawyers understand the context in dealing with domestic violence charges. We know that time is of the essence on files involving families and will assist in changing any bail conditions that may prevent you from being with your family. We will also begin to negotiate with the Crown prosecutors, immediately, to secure the best outcome of your case. 

Legal Terms and Definitions

Domestic violence situations fall under several categories and may include:

Domestic Assault:  a physical confrontation between you and a spouse or family member that does not result in injuries.

Assault Causing Bodily Harm: an assault on another person which results in bodily harm that is neither ‘trifling or transitory”. An example might be broken nose or cracked orbital bone.  House arrest is not available for assault causing bodily harm.

Aggravated Assault: a very serious assault which results in very serious injuries defined as; “wounding or maiming”. A stab wound, brain damage, loss of eyesight or hearing, internal injuries are examples of aggravated assault. House arrest is not available for aggravated assault.  

Assault with a Weapon: utilizing a weapon in the course of assaulting someone. The weapon may be something actually designed as a weapon such as a knife or gun, or something which was not designed as a weapon but simply used as one, such as a piece of lumber or a crowbar. You need not actually injure the person - simply brandishing the weapon in the course of an assault is sufficient to establish the charge.


If you are convicted of a domestic violence offence, mandatory conditions will prevent you from having contact with the complainant or victim. Regardless of the circumstances, a domestic criminal charge could prevent you from returning home and being with your family. A criminal charge also means that you are at risk of a criminal record and potentially a jail sentence.

How We Can Help

Most defence lawyers are qualified to handle domestic assault type cases.  However, it often depends on the lawyer you hire in terms of the outcome. Here are some of the possible areas where our firm can assist you:

Peace Bond:  A common way of dealing with minor domestic assault charges is a Peace Bond.  Where the Alternative Measures Program is unavailable, our assault lawyers may be able to negotiate a peace bond on your behalf.  A peace bond is really an agreement, typically lasting one year, that you enter with the Court and promise to ‘keep the peace and be of good behavior’. In addition there maybe additional conditions attached such as counselling or restraining orders/no contact provisions. If you are approved for a peace bond the criminal charge will be dropped once you enter into the agreement, and you will not receive a criminal record. In many circumstances a Peace Bond is a safe alternative to going to trial.

Trial: Taking your matter to trial means having the Crown Prosecutor prove beyond a reasonable doubt your guilt. Domestic assault cases are almost never cut and dry. More often than not there will be evidentiary and legal issues at trial that will give rise to a defence. The charges against you can be challenged in a number of ways:

Challenging the facts: Domestic violence cases are largely a credibility contest of ‘He said vs. she said’.  Coming out with a not guilty verdict in such a case rests heavily with your lawyer’s ability to effectively cross examine the complainant and any independent witnesses who might seek to implicate you. Not every cross-examination is an effective – our criminal lawyers have years of courtroom experience to be effective advocates for your credibility.  

Interpreting the law in your favour: We argue the assault laws and precedent cases in a way which will be most favorable to your specific case and fact scenario. This is achieved through careful and diligent legal research and application, which comes with our years of legal experience and understanding of assault in the eyes of the Criminal Code and the courts.
Violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Talking to the police, giving statements, providing any kind of self-incriminatory evidence can be detrimental to the outcome of your case. (When faced with the option of speaking to police or remaining silent, remain silent!) However after the fact, our assault lawyers can apply to have this initial evidence excluded by way of an application made under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We understand the typical violations to your Charter Rights. For example, police may search your car without permission, or not give you the option to call a lawyer. These violations are arguable in the courts in your defence.

Sentence: In some cases, the best course of legal action may be to reduce the damage that may be done to you. Not all domestic violence cases are defensible or result in acquittals. In these circumstances our lawyers can help keep your sentence as lenient as possible. This could include any number of possibilities:

Avoiding a Criminal Record: In less serious assault cases it may be possible to argue for an absolute or conditional discharge if you are convicted. This means that it may be possible to avoid the imposition of a conviction on your criminal record despite the fact that you were found guilty.

Avoiding jail time: Where jail is a possibility, our lawyers will paint the best picture possible of your personal circumstances in an effort to avoid the possibility of incarceration. Often this will mean you will receive a fine or a period of probation.

Reducing jail time:  In those circumstances where jail is unavoidable the goal will be to keep any potential jail sentence as low as possible to ensure that your freedoms is effected as minimally as possible.


Call us. We can help.

If you have been accused or charged with domestic violence, call us right away. We understand that time is of the upmost importance to resolve and move forward as possible. Our Calgary criminal defence team has the expertise and dedication to represent your rights to freedom. 

Latest News Of Domestic Violence

June 2013
The mother of a severely disabled man who was left by his caregiver sitting in his own feces is angry criminal allegations have been dropped. And the Calgary woman, whom the Sun is not naming, said there needs to be changes in legislation to protect handicapped adults the way children and seniors are. “I’d hoped that there would be some meaningful consequences,” the woman said, of the charge against former caregiver Tammy Laverne Penney. “As a family we’re shocked... more
June 2013
    A woman charged after a severely-disabled man in her care was found in a bathtub full of feces in Calgary will not face a trial. Tammy Penney, 46, was charged with failing to provide the necessities of life after the 36-year-old man was left alone at the Comfort Inn on Macleod Trail for at least six hours in 2011. Penney had been the man's caretaker for 22 years and the pair had travelled to Calgary from the Crowsnest Pass area in southern Alberta. Today was... more