The Domestic Violence Process and Immediate Consequences: Part 2
What Happens When I’m Charged?
There are a number of different ways you can be charged. Often times, if the assault occurs in the domestic home and the police are called, the individual accused of the assault will be charged upon police arrival. At this time, the individual is either brought to the police station to be released on conditions or brought to the arrest processing unit to be put before a Justice of the Peace for a bail hearing.
If you are not present when the police arrive, they will issue what is called a warrant in the first instance. This means that a warrant has been issued for your arrest and if you happen to run into a police officer either for a traffic infraction or otherwise, you will be arrested and charged at that time.
Please be advised that you DO NOT have any obligation to assist the police with their investigation. You DO NOT have an obligation to turn yourself in if you discover a warrant has been issued for your arrest. If you believe you have a warrant out for your arrest, call a defence lawyer and they will discuss with you what your best options are in the circumstances and how best to proceed. We are here to help you, at Dunn and Associates we provide free consultations for people who may be facing criminal charges and may have outstanding warrants.
What Kind of Conditions Will I be Released On?
Unfortunately, the harsh reality of being charged with a domestic related assault is that you will initially be bound by a certain number of release conditions that will significantly impede on your way of life.
When you are released from police custody a typical set of release conditions will look as follows:
- You will NOT be allowed to return to your home if the complainant resides there, this is more commonly known as the “No Go” condition;
- You will NOT be allowed any form of communication with the complainant, this is more commonly known as the “No Contact” condition;
- You will be required to attend in court to answer to your charges;
- If the alleged offence involved any allegations of the consumption of alcohol you will be required to NOT consume any alcohol or intoxicating substances, and may be prohibited from going to bars or liquor stores;
- You will NOT be allowed to possess any weapons, and in some scenarios, you will be required to surrender any firearms you own to the police;
- In some cases, the no contact order will include your children even if they had nothing to do with the allegations.
These conditions CAN be amended or removed at a later date. However, if you are found to be in breach of any of the above conditions, you may be charged with a further criminal offence. Depending on the severity of the breach, you may also find yourself being detained at the Remand Centre until your charges have been resolved, this can take months. This also includes individuals with no prior criminal record. Therefore, it is imperative that you obey ALL of your release conditions to the letter until you or your lawyer are able to relax or remove them in their entirety.
So I’ve been charged, what do I do now?
The first thing you should do if you have been charged is to call a lawyer to discuss what your rights are and how you can deal with your charges. At Dunn and Associates we provide 100% free in-person consultations for anyone charged with a criminal offence. You do not have an obligation to retain any of our lawyers after the consultation. However, there are many advantages to hiring a lawyer as opposed to trying to deal with your charges on your own.
First, we are able to make court appearances on your behalf WITHOUT your presence. This means you do not have to take time off work to attend your court appearance.
Second, we are able to meet with Crown Prosecutors to canvass whether we can relax or remove your current release conditions. In a lot of scenarios, the complainant will want you home just as much as you want to go home. This information is usually canvassed through a 3rd party government organization called victim services. Victim services is a liaison between the complainant and the crown prosecutor so that his/her wishes are appropriately relayed to the crown. The crown prosecutor DOES NOT call each and every complainant when they are given a file, this is the job of victim services.
Unfortunately, self-represented accused persons do not have the same access to crown prosecutors and victim services as defence lawyers do. If you are self-represented, the only access you have to the crown prosecutor and victim services is through duty counsel on your specified court date. Often times, it can take 2 or 3 court appearances for victim services to have the update from the complainant required for the crown prosecutor to consent to relaxing or removing some of your release conditions.
In some cases, even if the complainant wants you home, the crown prosecutor will still not consent to relaxing or removing your release conditions. This is not common practice and is generally only for spouses who have a significant history with domestic violence or substance abuse or if the allegations are exceptionally severe that it could potentially put you or your spouse in immediate danger.
If the crown prosecutor will not consent to relaxing or removing some of your release conditions, you have the option of having a Judge or Justice review them. If you were released by a police officer, a Provincial Court Judge can review your release conditions by way of application. If you were released by a Justice of the Peace, you will have to have a Queen’s Bench Justice review your release conditions, also by way of application. Your defence lawyer will be able to advise you as to what is required for a bail review and as to what your likelihood of success is. On some occasions, simply making the application for a bail review is enough for the Crown to budge on your release conditions.
If you are bound by a “no contact” and “no go” release conditions, the ONLY way you can LAWFULLY go home is to have those 2 conditions removed in their entirety. Again, if you choose to go home or contact your spouse without removing those conditions, you will likely receive MORE criminal charges for breaching your release conditions which makes resolving your file so that you do not have a criminal record much more difficult.