Along with drinking and driving cases, charges relating to domestic violence are one of the most common types of criminal allegations. Domestic violence charges are not limited to allegations involving spouses, common law spouses, or boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. In fact, the following types of relationships are also covered by the “domestic umbrella”: parent/child; sibling/sibling; and, grandparent/grandchild.
Domestic violence allegations cover a very broad spectrum of charges:
- Assault Bodily Harm
- Assault with a Weapon
- Utter Threats
- Criminal Harassment
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Assault
- Attempt Murder
Upon being arrested for a domestic violence charge, there is a very strong likelihood that you will be held for a bail hearing. Typically, you will have to live with your surety, and further, you are to have no contact with the complainant. The policy behind the “no contact” condition is two-fold: to eliminate the possibility of further abuse/violence; and, to ensure there is no “witness tampering”. It is the condition of “no contact” which causes the greatest stress and anxiety to an accused individual. Quite often, a trial date is many months down the road.
A common misconception relating to a domestic violence charge is the complainant decides if the case will go to trial (i.e. the complainant can terminate the charges at any time in the proceeding). This is not the case. The police make the initial decision to lay charges, and thereafter, the Crown Attorney’s Office make all decisions relating to prosecution.
Upon being charged, some individuals may be eligible for a Domestic Assault Program: Partner Assault Response Program (P.A.R.), or the Early Intervention Program (E.I.P.). It is important to note that these programs may not be suitable for everyone. Often these programs have terms, consequences, and potential pitfalls.
Quite often, domestic violence cases are referred to as “he says/she says” cases. Credibility is a key live issue. That being said, a judge should not decide the case via a “credibility contest”.
Instead, as formulated by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. W.(D.),  1 SCR 742, the trial judge should proceed through the following three “branches”:
- If the judge believes the evidence of the accused, s/he must acquit
- Even if the judge does not believe the testimony of the accused but is left in a reasonable doubt by it, s/he must acquit
- Even if the judge is not left in doubt by the evidence of the accused, s/he must ask themselves whether, on the basis of the evidence which they do accept, they are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt by that evidence of the guilt of the accused
Lastly, kindly find attached herewith some domestic violence cases for your review: