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Acquittal Case Study: Assault, Forcible Confinement, and Mischief Over $5000



City: Peterborough, Ontario
Our Client: Mr. B.
Complainant: Ms. M.
Charge(s): Assault, Forcible Confinement and Mischief over $5000

Background: Mr. B. and Ms. M. had dated for several years. Ms. M.’s young son had known Mr. B. for his whole life as his father. Mr. B. and Ms. M. were living together but there were difficulties in their relationship. One morning they had an argument before Mr. B. went to work. They were in the bedroom together and the argument escalated. Ms. M. says that Mr. B. threw a laundry basket which had clothes in it, at her, and it hit her in the leg. She would later testify that she tried to get past him and get out of the bedroom but he grabbed her by the shoulders and arms with both of his hands and would not let her out of the bedroom. Mr. B. would confirm the argument in the bedroom. He admitted that he threw a laundry basket, but he said it did not hit Ms. M. Mr. B. said that the only physical contact between them was when he went to leave the room and extended his arm to the right, to get by her in the small space at the end of the bed. After that incident Mr. B. and Ms. M. separated, but later reconciled. They broke up again later that year. A couple of months later, Mr. B. was at Ms. M.’s place picking up Ms. M.’s little boy for a visit. Mr. B. was putting the boy in the car seat in his truck and Ms. M. went back inside the house to get something that had been forgotten. Ms. M. heard what she described as a weird noise and went back outside, and saw Mr. B. standing beside the truck that belonged to her current boyfriend, which was parked in her driveway. Ms. M. observed scratch marks on this truck and believed that Mr. B. had keyed the truck. She demanded that Mr. B. pay for the damage. After Mr. B. refused to pay, Ms. M. reported the truck incident to the police, giving rise to the mischief charge. Ms. M. also told the police for the first time about the incident in the bedroom four months earlier and thus Mr. B. was also charged with assault and forcible confinement.

Goal: To avoid criminal convictions on all three charges.

Strategy: This case would turn on the question of credibility. Ms. M.’s testimony would be pitted against Mr. B.’s. Each would have a different version of the events. It would be a classic “he-said-she-said” situation – what is sometimes known as a “WD” case after the case R. v. W. (D.) which sets out the approach the Court is to take with respect to credibility issues. We would present Mr. B.’s version of what happened, while raising a reasonable doubt about Ms. M.’s story and systematically attacking the Crown’s case. To do so, we would, through cross-examination, have to bring into question the reliability and/or credibility of Ms. M.’s testimony.

Verdict:  We were able to raise a reasonable doubt with regards to all of Ms. M.’s allegations.  Mr. B. was acquitted of all three charges.

Please Note: Past results not predictive of future results.

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