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Punishing Domestic Violence: What To Expect From Domestic Charges

I’ve Been Charged with Domestic Assault In Lindsay, What Now?

Before anything else, we recommend you seek and retain legal counsel. Your right to retain legal counsel is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a reason– having someone who understands how to navigate the legal system is incredibly important when fighting criminal charges.

As you’re working on finding legal counsel you may want to know what kinds of outcomes you could be facing both while charged and if you should be convicted. This blog is meant to give you a general idea but is not an exhaustive list and should not be considered legal advice.

Understanding The “Domestic” in “Domestic Violence”

If you take a casual read through the Criminal Code of Canada (which I in no way recommend because it is perhaps the thickest and least interesting book on my shelf) you may be curious why you didn’t find any crime called “domestic violence” or “domestic assault”.

There is no formally codified crime of domestic assault or domestic assault, but rather under s.718.2(ii) the court is to treat any crime where the victim is an intimate partner or family member of the accused as more severe during sentencing. Your actual charge would be a formally codified criminal act, such as assault under s.266. If an assault under s.266 is “domestic” and you’re convicted the Crown will seek a harsher punishment, such as time in jail.

I’ve Been Charged: What Will They Do?

When the Crown charges someone with the intention of prosecuting them they do so with certain goals in mind: protection of the public and the victim, potential rehabilitation of the accused, and deterrence both for the accused and the general public. With the protection of the victim and public in mind it’s common for the Crown to place restrictions on those accused with certain offences.

If you’ve been charged with a violent crime in the domestic context the Crown will likely seek to prohibit you from making contact with or being near the alleged victim. This can be incredibly problematic if you and the alleged victim share a house or apartment. If you’ve been mandated by the Court to maintain distance from the alleged victim, you’ll need to find a new place of residence during the proceedings. You’ll also likely be restricted from possessing weapons throughout the proceeding. Even if you possess firearms for legitimate purposes like hunting the Crown is likely to request that they be turned over to the police.

You may also have restrictions placed on your ability to be around children or other vulnerable populations. If you’re a parent or if your employment requires you to be around children or in places children often go (like schools or rec centres) this can be difficult to cope with and the financial burden that can come with losing your place of residence and potentially your employment can make funding your defence a challenge. If the restrictions placed on you when you’ve only been charged are causing undue burdens on your ability to live consult with your legal counsel. Some restrictions can be altered to allow you to maintain your job or to have access to your children.

I’ve Been Convicted: What Will They Do?

If you’ve been convicted (or have pled guilty) the Crown and your defence lawyer either agree on a punishment or the two submit to the Court what they believe the outcomes should be and argue their case. As mentioned above if your charge has the aggravating factor of “domestic” (meaning the victim and the accused were intimate partners or family) the Crown will seek a stricter punishment, and even though the Public Prosecution Service of Canada Deskbook encourages Crown Attorneys to avoid prison sentences where non-prison sentences are suitable, in cases of domestic violence it’s recommended that they err on the side of deterrence and avoid lenient sentences like conditional discharges.

The Crown might seek prison time, but could also seek fines, mandatory rehabilitation (such as anger management or the Partner Assault Response (PAR) program, or a conditional sentence such as house arrest. These sentences are likely to be accompanied by the previously mentioned restrictions, such as a prohibition against owning firearms, once released into the public. If you’ve already been convicted of domestic violence and are concerned about the sentence you might receive make sure you’ve retained legal counsel to litigate the sentencing procedure on your behalf.

A diligent lawyer working on your behalf may be able to achieve a non-criminal disposition such as a peace bond or discharge in certain cases. Criminal records can cause problems getting a job, doing volunteer work, crossing borders and make things worse at Family Court proceedings.

I Want to Avoid These: What Do I Do?

If you haven’t yet retained legal counsel but have been charged with a domestic assault in Lindsay or the Kawartha Lake’s region, contact Aitken Robertson at 189 Kent St West, Suite 218. We know this is a difficult and anxious time and offer a free 30-day consultation to anyone charged with a crime.

Our experienced lawyers will listen to your explanation of the situation, consider the case the Crown has, and help you explore your options for legal defence. The founder of the firm, Richard Aitken, came to realize while practicing law for over 30 years, that it’s often difficult to afford legal services while potentially relocating your living situation or accounting for lost employment. His solution: offer block billing rates and interest free payment plans. After the 30-minute consultation our lawyers will inform you what the cost of your legal defence will be, and if you need assistance with the payments our team will work with you to make a long term payment plan that suits you. Mr. Aitken is a firm believer that quality legal defence should be available to everyone and that the firm should work with its clients to provide them with it.

f you’ve been charged with domestic violence in Lindsay contact our offices as soon as possible so we can begin developing your legal defence alongside you.

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