Our firm represents a lot of men and women who are charged with domestic assault and when they come to see us the first question they often ask is they say “look I’ve heard through the grapevine that my wife or my husband or my boyfriend or girlfriend do not want to proceed with these charges. How quickly can we get this matter dropped?”

This is a very loaded question and happens often where victim don’t want to proceed. You have to understand a few things about this. First of all, when the police show up at a domestic assault scene if there’s any evidence of a crime, for example the wife of the man says “look they assaulted me, my significant other assaulted me”, there’s going to be a charge laid. It’s not up to the victim whether the charge is laid and it’s not up to the victim whether the charge proceeds. I have seen literally dozens, if not hundreds of cases over the years where the victim has gone to the Crown or gone to victim witness assistance and said “look I don’t want to proceed with these charges, I want it dropped”. The crown in this situation has directives and mandates to proceed with the charge. There is nothing the victim can do about it and it’s the Crown’s decision. The victim is merely a witness to a crime and a witness at the trial. So that is the short answer. It’s not going to get dropped.

The only way it’s going to get dropped is if the Crown looks at the charge and says “look there is no reasonable prospect of conviction here. I’ve reviewed the evidence and the victim’s statement is full of inconsistencies and makes no sense”. That’s the test in Ontario. Sometimes even if the Crown answers that question and no in your favour, is there any reasonable prospect of conviction? No. I hate to say this but there are a certain number of Crown’s, a percentage of Crown’s for politically expedient reasons will just say “look we’re just going to run the trial. I don’t want to face the wrath of this victim who’s angry at me for dropping the charges.” So even then the charges often do not get dropped. That’s the test in Ontario.

So the short answer, even if your spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend does not want to proceed it’s not up to them it’s up to the Crown. We often even see situations where the witness, the victim does a recanted statement. They go in and say “look I was drunk at the time, here’s my new statement. I was telling the truth at the time but I wasn’t in my right frame of mind so that’s not the true version of events”. That’s called a recantation. Even then the Crown often proceeds with those charges because what they do is they rely on a sworn video statement. So even that will often not result in the charges being withdrawn. It’s a very difficult charge to get withdrawn. It’s very political and usually it’s going to head to trial if you want to win your case.

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