Jul 21

What are Domestic Charges?

In the Canadian law, there is no offence called domestic assault. When you are charged with a domestic offence it connotes the nature of the relationship between the accused and the complainant. Domestic charges can range from simple assault, sexual assault, to homicide (murder).

During a trial, the Crown is not required to prove that the offence (such as criminal harassment) occurred in a domestic context, they would only need to prove that you committed the offence of criminal harassment. But, during a sentencing hearing, the fact that the offence occurred in a domestic relationship will be a relevant consideration.

There are a few important distinctions when you are facing a domestic assault charge, which are as follows:

  1. During your bail hearing for judicial interim release, a previous criminal record of domestic offences will reverse the burden of the bail hearing. This means you would be required to show the court why you should be released, instead of the more common Crown onus bail hearings.
  2. Your matter will appear in a domestic court. In larger courthouses, there are specific dates and courtrooms where domestic charges will be addressed. Your matter will be assigned to a “domestic Crown” who will screen and have carriage of your matter.
  3. Your matter could be diverted into PARS (or “early intervention” or “alternative early intervention) court. This is a 12-week domestic abuse course that is approved in Ontario. Upon completing PARS, your charges could be withdrawn, you may enter a peace bond, or you may resolve your criminal charges to a lesser offence.
  4. The fact that the offence occurred within the context of a domestic relationship is considered during a sentencing hearing as an aggravating factor which would lead to a harsher sentence. The Crown would be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offence was domestic in nature before the sentencing judge could use that as a factor.

How Do I Defend Myself?

Defending a domestic assault, and a regular assault is the same. If the matter is unable to resolve before a trial, you have a trial wherein the Crown must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They would do this by calling evidence, such as the complainant, and other evidence to support the offences. After the Crown closes their case, you would have the opportunity to call your own evidence which includes testifying in your defence.

If you are charged with a domestic offence in Toronto, Brampton, or elsewhere in Ontario, the lawyers at Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh are able and willing to represent you. We have substantial experience representing people charged with the most serious domestic offences, and we would be willing to assist you. Please contact us at 416-613-0416 to speak with one of our lawyers.