Penalties for domestic assault in Canada are more severe than assault outside of a domestic setting. Domestic assault occurs in the context of an intimate relationship. Most commonly, this is between a dating or a married couple, but it is not limited to these relationships. It is also not limited to people who live together.
Domestic violence can be physical, psychological, or sexual. It can also include criminal harassment, like stalking. If you’ve been accused of such an act, a Toronto domestic assault lawyer can form the best defence possible. They will explore the best options based on the details of your case.
Potential Defences Against Domestic Assault Charges
When reviewing your case, your lawyer may consider these defence options:
- Lack of proof. The prosecution has the burden of proof. If the defence can show doubt, the charges may be dismissed. In many cases, the main evidence is testimony from the accuser and the accused. There may have been a disagreement, but it may not have turned into domestic violence.
- False accusation. Your lawyer may be able to show that the alleged action never happened. Did the complainant lie to the police? Do you have a proven alibi? Were you somewhere else at the time?
- Consent. An essential factor in domestic assault cases is consent. If the alleged assault was between two consenting adults and no bodily harm was caused, the allegation may no longer be valid. The specifics of the case are vital here.
- Self-defence. This is perhaps the most common domestic assault defence strategy. The Criminal Code outlines its criteria. The accused must show force was used against them, or they had reason to believe it would be. The response must be reasonable and proportionate. This strategy may involve defending another family member.
- Credibility. A domestic assault charge relies heavily on the alleged victim’s story. If your lawyer can present reasons to question their credibility, this adds doubt to the case. Did the accuser exaggerate their claim? What evidence can undermine the case against you?
Possible Mitigating Factors to Consider
The court may consider certain mitigating factors. These can add to your defence portray the facts in a different light or result in a dismissal of the charges. Or, they may reduce sentencing if you’re found guilty.
- Context. Is the couple going through a divorce? Is child custody involved? Does the couple have a history of abuse? What mental health factors are there? The context of the case can paint a bigger picture. The accuser may be trying to defame the accused to gain sole custody of the children.
- Severity. The extent of the injuries is another factor. Depending on how serious the injuries were, the Crown may justify greater or lesser charges.
- Procedural errors. Did the police violate your Charter rights in collecting evidence? The court may exclude that evidence. Investigative errors bring doubt into the case as well.
- Accidental. It’s possible that injuries did indeed occur, but it’s also possible that the assault was accidental. Your lawyer may be able to show that you did not intend to cause bodily harm.
Useful Evidence in a Domestic Assault Case
Witness testimony is just one facet. Looking more closely at statements can reveal exaggerations or inconsistencies, for example. Is the victim dishonest in describing what happened? How do people outside of the case view the relationship between the accuser and the accused?
Law enforcement may even be charging the wrong person. When they arrived at the scene, they may not assess the situation correctly. Did the accuser escalate things to violence first? Did police assume one person was the victim when they shouldn’t have?
Your legal counsel may take a closer look at police and medical records. This provides context to the case. They can also assess how serious the injuries are. If the injuries are minor, the charge may not even proceed to trial.
Why You Need the Help of a Toronto Domestic Assault Defence Lawyer
Aggravated assault convictions in Ontario can result in up to 14 years in prison. And, once a victim files charges, they cannot drop them. An experienced lawyer can carefully review the evidence and come up with the best defence possible. Ideally, this means the charges are dismissed. The burden of proof falls on the prosecutor. Your lawyer can work to introduce doubt in their case.
Even if you are found guilty, a lawyer can work with the court to reduce charges. They can negotiate bail conditions. They can argue for counselling or a diversion program instead of jail time. Your legal counsel will always work with you to get the best possible outcome.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation
Are you involved in a case of domestic violence or abuse? You need an experienced Toronto domestic assault lawyer on your side. Call our offices at 1-800-699-0806 or fill out our online contact form to book a meeting today. Get the answers you need. We’ll work with you to start building the strongest defence possible.