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Domestic Assault Laws in Canada: Protecting Victims in Intimate Relationships

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Have You Been Charged With Domestic Assault?

Domestic violence is physical, verbal, emotional, and/or sexual abuse which may include assault. If you’re charged with domestic assault in or near the Toronto area, you must be advised and represented by a Toronto domestic assault lawyer, and you must contact that lawyer at once.

Domestic assault may leave emotional scars that last for life. Few of us deserve justice more than the victims of domestic assault. By definition, domestic assault happens in intimate relationships – marriage or dating – but it may also happen in any family or household relationship. Ontario’s domestic assault laws are intended to protect victims in these relationships.

Domestic assault is a serious crime in Ontario, and the penalties for domestic assault convictions are often more severe than penalties for other assaults. What constitutes domestic assault? And what steps should you take if you are charged with domestic assault in or near the Toronto area?

What Constitutes Domestic Assault in Ontario?

Domestic assault means more than exclusively physical violence. Under the Ontario Violence Protection Act, domestic assault is any use of physical force against – or any emotional abuse of – an intimate partner, an intimate partner’s child, a family member, or a household member.

While domestic assault does not include any action taken in self-defence, it may include:

  1. an intentional use of force that causes the victim to fear for his or her physical safety
  2. a reckless or intentional act or failure to act that causes bodily harm or property damage
  3. forced, unlawful physical confinement
  4. threatening or committing sexual violence, intimidation, exploitation, or molestation
  5. stalking, which includes following, contacting, surveilling, or recording a victim

What Are the Different Types of Domestic Assault?

Domestic assault can be any behaviour that is used by an abuser to dominate or control a victim. Domestic assault may be physical, psychological, or sexual:

  1. Physical assault includes any physically harmful, aggressive behaviour, the threat of physically harmful, aggressive behaviour, or the withholding of care from a victim who is in physical need.
  2. Psychological assault, including verbal assault, seeks to control a victim through fear and intimidation.
  3. Sexual assault is forcing sex on a victim or making negative or aggressive verbal statements of a sexual nature.

What Are the Defences Against a Domestic Assault Charge?

A domestic assault conviction in Ontario can send a defendant to prison for a number of years, and when a domestic assault charge has been filed, it may be dropped only by the Crown prosecutor – not by the victim.

If you are charged with domestic assault in or near Toronto, you must be represented and advised by an Ontario domestic assault defence lawyer who will scrutinize the case and develop an effective, aggressive defence on your behalf. Your lawyer may consider these defence options:

  1.  Self-defence – or the defence of another – is a common domestic assault defence. You and your lawyer must show that force was used against you or that you believed the use of force was imminent. Your response must have been proportionate and reasonable.
  2.  Consent is sometimes offered as a defence in domestic assault cases. If two consenting adults were involved and there were no serious physical injuries, the consent defence may prevail.
  3.  If the domestic assault claim was fabricated, your lawyer may question the credibility of the purported victim and work to prove that the assault never happened. False domestic assault claims are made for many reasons and sometimes for no apparent reason at all.
  4.  Even if injuries occurred, it’s possible that the incident was accidental, and if so, your Toronto domestic assault lawyer will work to prove that you had no intention of causing bodily harm.

How Will Your Case Be Handled?

Ontario’s Domestic Violence Courts handle domestic assaults and related matters. These courts recognize that domestic assault cases require an approach that’s different from other assault cases. While a conviction for domestic assault in Ontario may entail a lengthy prison sentence, judges have a range of sentencing options including fines, alternative sentencing, and probation.

Some convicted domestic assault offenders may qualify for alternative sentencing. If you are willing to commit to a conflict resolution program or even to private counseling, in some cases, you may be allowed to avoid a conviction and a criminal record.

Of course, if you are entirely innocent of a domestic assault charge, and if the charge against you cannot be dropped or dismissed, your lawyer will take your case to trial, cast doubt on the prosecution’s evidence, explain what, in fact, actually happened, and seek a not guilty verdict.

What Else Should You Know About Domestic Assault?

Non-domestic assaults are likely to be reported immediately, whereas a single domestic assault is likely to be part of an overall pattern of abuse over time. Domestic abuse sometimes continues for years before it comes to the attention of law enforcement authorities.

A victim may choose not to report a domestic assault in order to keep the family together, due to financial concerns, or out of fear that reporting the assault will make the situation worse.

Domestic assault victims should be advised that the more time has passed since a domestic assault took place, the more difficult it will be to compile evidence, to locate reliable witnesses, and to win justice.

Charged With Domestic Assault? Promptly Contact William Jaksa Criminal Litigation

If you are charged with domestic assault in the Toronto area, now or in the future, Ontario domestic assault defence lawyer William Jaksa can provide the legal insights and aggressive defence representation you need.

With nearly two decades of defence experience, Toronto lawyer William Jaksa brings substantial legal skills and knowledge to every client and to every domestic assault case. He will develop an effective defence strategy and will use every available legal tool to win justice on your behalf.

If you are being charged with domestic assault, call the offices of William Jaksa Criminal Litigation as quickly as possible at 647-951-8078. Our legal team will work diligently for the justice you need and will help you move constructively and positively into the future.

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