When it comes to being charged with domestic assault, people often wonder if the charges can be dropped or withdrawn. They wonder what will it take to have the assault charges dropped? Often because there is an intimate and close relationship with the alleged victim an accused person believes there is greater chance of this. In this blog post, we’ll explore that question and provide some insight into the process. Keep in mind that every case is unique, so these are general guidelines only. If you have been charged with domestic assault, or any other criminal charges, it’s important to speak with an experienced criminal defence lawyer to get specific legal advice tailored to your situation.
Often my clients ask how to get domestic charges dropped before their first court appearance. That is not an easy task for any charges, especially domestic assault charges. But, there are several proactive steps that clients can take to put themselves in the best possible position to get domestic assault charges dropped. Criminal defence lawyers will be able to explain if having domestic assault charges dropped in your circumstance is even possible or what it will take to get domestic assault charges withdrawn.
What Does It Mean to Have Charges Withdrawn?
When charges are withdrawn, this means that the Crown has decided not to pursue the criminal case against you, and all criminal charges will be dropped. However, even if the Crown drops domestic charges, the police agency that arrested you will always have a record of your arrest, the criminal charges that were laid, the name of the alleged victim and other details surrounding the arrest. All this information will be contained in the police occurrence report of the incident. If the domestic assault charges are dropped they will not appear on your record. You should speak with a criminal defence lawyer to understand the rules surrounding what appears on criminal records.
As a Complainant, Can I Withdraw Assault Charges? I Don’t Want The Charges To Proceed.
The simple answer for this is no. In Canada, the decision to withdraw or drop charges of domestic assault is up to the Crown prosecutor, not the complainant. The complainant cannot direct the police, Crown or Courts to withdraw or drop the charges. But, the Crown Prosecutor will certainly taken into consideration when assessing their case if the complainant does not want the charges to proceed forward to a trial, or if they are opposed to having the offender convicted and receive a criminal record.
In Ontario, domestic violence charges are taken very seriously by police and are treated differently than other cases of assault. Domestic violence has been a priority for the government in trying to find the right balance of law, policies and procedures to prevent domestic violence, encourage reporting of domestic violence and the criminal enforcement of laws surrounding domestic assault. While balancing the reality that not everybody wants police involvement in their domestic affairs and often don’t want the state interfering in their personal lives or want criminal charges laid against their partners. The government does not want to break up couples but wants them to get back together and wants them to continue in their relationships without violence. Many times a complainant will call for police assistance with the hopes of some intervention and expressly do not want domestic charges laid. Rarely do domestic partners want their call to police to result in a criminal record for their partner.
In Ontario, when it comes to domestic violence police officers are required to lay domestic assault charges if there is any credible allegation of domestic violence. Once a police investigation has started into a domestic violence case, even if the police were called for a different reason, the alleged complainant has almost no say in what charges are brought against the accused. In some cases, the case will proceed against the complainant’s wishes even if they really want the charges dropped.
This policy can also result in dual charges being placed if both parties were involved and it is unclear who the aggressor is. This is something that the justice system frequently experiences and the Crown’s are forced to withdraw domestic assault charges against both parties.
Domestic Assault Charges Dropped? How to Make This Happen
In Canada, Crown prosecutors are the only ones who can decide to drop or withdraw domestic violence charges. Sometimes they will decide to drop domestic violence charges if there is not enough evidence for a conviction. Prosecutors can also choose to withdraw charges if the charge is not in the public interest. Dropping charges is something that the Crown has no problems doing in the right circumstances.
In some cases, the complainant may recant their statement. This could happen for several reasons – if the victim had trouble remembering what occurred due to trauma, if they were intoxicated or using drugs at the time or if they simply exaggerated the claims or lied.
In some cases, there is a fear that the complainant may have been forced to recant or threatened to change their statement out of fear. For these reasons, the prosecutor may choose to interview the complainant to hear their point of view. Still, the prosecutor may ultimately decide to have the domestic violence charges dropped. The Crown is always concerned about ensuring that the criminal justice system will not be brought into disrepute by forcing an alleged victim to proceed to trial when they clearly don’t want to.
A significant factor in determining if a domestic violence assault charge will be dropped will ultimately depend on its severity and the seriousness of the allegations. A Crown Attorney is less likely to withdraw charges after they have decided to proceed by indictment.
How Can A Criminal Defence Lawyer Help Get The Best Results In Domestic Assault Cases
If you are facing charges of domestic assault, hiring an experienced criminal defence lawyer is the first thing you should do. Assault charges can be complex and tricky to defend. It is essential to consult with a domestic assault lawyer right away so they can help you navigate the charges and to get back to your family.
A lawyer can help you navigate the system and help you understand how domestic charges are handled. In some cases a criminal defence lawyer may be able to assist you in best positioning yourself to convince the Crown to withdraw domestic violence charges in exchange for a peace bond, or simply have charges dropped. Often when domestic violence charges are dropped or withdrawn the Crown will still want a peace bond. A peace bond requires the accused to abide by a specific set of conditions and “keep the peace.” A lawyer may also be able to help you find a hybrid solution that is agreeable to both parties and the Crown and still have assault charges dropped.
Contact An Experienced Defence Lawyer
If you or a family member are facing assault charges, or any domestic violence charges, it is essential to get experienced defence lawyers to help navigate the justice system. Call William Jaksa. He is a criminal defence attorney in Toronto with over 15 years of experience defending clients in cases of assault. Call him today for a consultation and a discussion about the approximate legal fees in domestic assault cases.