Our firm represents a lot of people on domestic assault charges, and one of the first questions that my clients ask me: “Hey Mike, when can I go home to see my spouse? I’ve got this non-communication condition, I’ve been released in court or by an officer and I can’t see my spouse. She wants to reconcile.”
Unfortunately, the answer is a very difficult answer that they don’t want to hear: you’re not allowed to go home until certain situations and conditions are complied with. The crowns in the province – this is a very political issue – the crown attornies in the Attorney General’s office have directives and policies when a domestic assault is charged there’s a non-communication order.
The only way if you’re charged with this offence that you’re going home is if A) you win your trial, and that’s a long process which I’ll talk about a little bit too, or B) if you plead guilty and usually when you plead guilty there’s a requirement to do some counselling so you may not go home right away there either. You might have to do weeks of counselling.
It’s a very non-satisfactory answer and especially for those who are truly innocent, cause there are a certain percentage of people who are innocent – they are punished. And their spouse wants them to go home, and now they have to go through a process where the trial may be a year or even longer down the road.
I agree the policy’s in place for a good reason and the policy’s clear. In the past, many years ago, the crown attornies would, you know, vary these conditions, sometimes allow the spouse to go home. And spouses or significant others would wind up dead or hurt again. So we have to have this policy in place, there’s no question, but everyone gets caught unfortunately including the innocent. And that’s the answer I have to give clients. There’s no way the crown attorney’s going to bury that condition unless you A) plead guilty and if you plead guilty of course your spouse has to consent – that’s called a revocable consent – or B) you win your trial, and the condition’s deleted there. And that’s a long process.
So that is unfortunately an unsatisfactory answer. But I do agree with the policy, because if we did not have the policy in place, we’d have spouses going home, boyfriends, girlfriends, beating each other up, and it’s not a good situation, so we have to let the court system deal with it, and those are the reasons for the Attorney General’s derectives and policies.