Sometimes cases are not as simple as winning or losing. It is the job of a criminal defence lawyer to try to deliver the most favourable outcome. If you choose to go to trial, winning is never guaranteed. Cases vary based on the facts. Cases may sometimes seem similar, but it may turn on a single fact. Generally, the conviction rate in Bowmanville, Courtice, and Newcastle area for domestic assault is lower than regular assault (non-domestic assault) due to the complexity and nature of the relationship between the parties. That being said, your case will be decided on its own facts and circumstances. Often clients want to know the possibility of winning their case. While there is no magic formula to help determine if you will “win” or “lose,” a lawyer can help to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your case and a strategy that will deliver the best outcome for you.
Since the mid 1990s, domestic assault cases require mandatory charging. Meaning that if the police have reasonable grounds, they must lay charges on the dominant aggressor. There are some cases in which both parties are charged when it is unclear who the dominant aggressor is. This is due to the policy that it is usually in the public interest to proceed with a charge if there is a reasonable prospect of conviction. Whether or not charges are laid, is up to the discretion of the Crown. Spouses do not have a choice in whether their partners are prosecuted.
What if I choose to fight the charges?
If you choose not to plead guilty, your matter may go to trial and will be heard in the Durham Region Courthouse located only 3 blocks from our office in Oshawa. If so your lawyer will present the strongest defences in your favour and attempt to cast doubt on the Crown’s case against you.
One possible defence that may be raised is self-defence. However, to do so, you must meet a certain set of criteria outlined in section 34 of the Criminal Code:
34 (1) A person is not guilty of an offence if
(a) they believe on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person;
(b) the act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force; and
(c) the act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.
When considering the reasonableness of your actions in the circumstances, the court will examine a number of factors including; the nature of the threat, the use of weapons, age and gender of the parties and any other means available to respond to the potential use of force.
Consent to Fight
A consensual fight occurs when the victim voluntarily consents to the application of force. This may be a defence to assault. However the consent is negated when the force causes serious harm and was intended to be caused. Consent has not been vitiated where the accused did not intend to cause the victim serious harm but, nevertheless, bodily harm resulted. Your lawyer should review your case and the Crown’s case against you and determine whether these defences (if any) may be available to you.
Can I win my case without going to trial?
The majority of domestic assault cases in the Bowmanville, Courtice, and Newcastle area are resolved without going to trial. You may also avoid a conviction if your lawyer can successfully negotiate with the Crown for a direct accountability program known as a diversion. This may require you to complete certain tasks like attend a program, or pay restitution. If completed successfully the Crown will withdraw their charges. However, this is up to the Crown’s discretion and will only be successful provided that you have no prior criminal record and the incident is relatively minor.
Should I Plead Guilty?
Sometimes, the best outcome for you may be to plead guilty. Nevertheless, it is important that you have a lawyer who can make sure you fully understand the repercussions. If you do choose to plead guilty, you waive your right to a trial and will be convicted and sentenced. You voluntarily admit to the crime and admit the essential elements of the offence. Oftentimes, people think that pleading guilty is the easiest and fastest way to address their charges and to simply “get it over with.” A criminal conviction comes with lasting effects that can affect you for the rest of your life. Before you make any quick decisions it is important to contact a lawyer who can help you understand your options, review your case, and find defences that you might have missed.
If I Plead Guilty Will I Have a Criminal Record?
Not necessarily. This is why it is vital that you retain legal counsel. Results are based on a case by case basis however, depending on the circumstances, a lawyer may be able to negotiate and present a joint submission with the Crown attorney to the judge for alternatives like an absolute or conditional discharge, meaning no conviction is registered against you.
What Can I Do to Increase my Chances of Winning?
Write down your version of events as soon as possible after the incident. A clear, detailed account of what happened can help poke holes in the Crown’s argument and go towards your credibility if asked to testify. Make sure to write, ‘for my lawyer only’ on your notes to protect your client privilege protection. Each case is decided on its individual facts and merits. Small details and facts that may not seem important to you can be the difference between a finding of guilt and innocence. Do not speak to the police, any information you give them may be used against you as evidence.