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 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 choice 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 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 with 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.
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, the outcome is often a result of the lawyer you hire. Here are some possible areas where our firm can assist you:
- Peace Bond: A common way of dealing with minor domestic assault charges, a peace bond is an agreement, typically lasting one year, that you enter with the Court and promise to ‘keep the peace and be of good ‘behaviour’. In addition, there may be additional conditions attached such as counselling, restraining orders, or 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.
If your case goes to trial, the charges against you can be defended 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 favourable to your specific case and fact scenario. This is achieved through careful and diligent legal research and application.
- 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! 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 of your personal circumstances, in an effort to avoid 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 affected as minimally as possible.
Call us. Our domestic violence lawyers can help.
If you have been accused or charged with domestic violence, call us right away. We understand that time is of the utmost importance to resolve and move forward as possible. Our Calgary criminal defence team has the knowledge and dedication to represent your rights to freedom.