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Toronto Domestic Violence Lawyer

The Courts in Ontario consider any kind of violent assault or threatening behaviour that occurs between members of the same family or between romantic partners to be domestic violence. Sometimes even a minor incident results in serious charges with serious consequences. Domestic assault charges are charged the same as assault, assault bodily harm, aggravated assault, or other offences such as criminal harassment or threatening death or injury. The classification of domestic violence only speaks to the relationship between the accused and the complainant. Domestic assault or spousal violence in Toronto is treated very seriously by the Court system.

How are people charged with domestic assault treated?

Domestic violence or domestic assault allegations require a particular set of skills to be used by the criminal lawyer because of the family dynamics and emotions that are involved in such cases. Unfortunately, these allegations can separate families and tear them apart. Often, people with no criminal record are held for bail hearings when facing domestic assault charges. Some people accused of domestic assault are released on bail from the police station. The police will determine how serious they believe the allegations to be and then determine whether to release the accused from the station or hold the accused for bail. Most allegations of domestic assault will result in release conditions that prevent the parties from contacting each other. This means that accused persons often must move out of the family home and land up having no contact with their spouse or partner and limited contact with their children.

Can a domestic violence-related bail order or release from the police station be changed or varied?

Criminal lawyers that regularly represent people charged with domestic assault have experienced varying and changing bail or release orders. Weisberg Law can in many situations arrange to have clients’ bail or release orders changed or varied to prevent their families from breaking down. Domestic assault release orders can be modified by presenting a plan and positive evidence to the Crown Attorney that there is minimal risk of harm if the parties resume contact. We have had a great deal of success in getting families back together. If the Crown Attorney refuses to consent to a bail variation, we can bring a motion before the appropriate court to have a contested hearing on the proposed bail variation.

What is a peace bond and why are they offered in spousal violence cases?

Domestic assault allegations are sometimes settled by way of the accused entering a peace bond and the domestic abuse charges being withdrawn. Agreeing to a peace bond is not a finding of guilt. The accused that enters a peace bond will promise to the Court that he/she will abide by certain conditions and not disturb the peace for a certain period of time. In many cases, this is an excellent way to resolve a matter without the risk of receiving a criminal record.

Please contact Adam Weisberg to fully discuss the ramifications of entering a peace bond at 416.603.3344.

What if I am trying to get a divorce and am charged with a domestic assault?

Allegations of domestic assault in Toronto commonly arise in the context of divorce proceedings. Special considerations need to be taken into account when defending a domestic allegation while family law proceedings are occurring in the background. Unfortunately, some litigants use false allegations as a way to achieve the upper hand in family law proceedings. Weisberg Law has excellent relationships with several family lawyers and will work closely with your family lawyer to help ensure a positive result in both family and criminal court.

Why should domestic abuse complainants or victims hire a lawyer?

Once a complaint has been made, it is the Crown that decides whether or not criminal charges proceed. Sometimes complainants may require a lawyer to advise them on how to make their position known to the Crown. As well, a seasoned criminal lawyer can provide important independent legal advice to complainants, so they know their rights and the potential risks of being criminally charged themselves. Click here for more information on hiring a lawyer when you are the “complainant” or “victim” in a domestic violence case.

In The Media on Domestic Assault Cases:

Adam Weisberg was consulted by the Law Times on the new Domestic Violence Court in Toronto.

Domestic Assault Matter Samples of Success:

For samples of some matters that went to trial see: Successes Page

If you are a domestic violence complainant and need assistance, please call Adam Weisberg at 416.605.4811.


Frequently Asked Questions

Domestic assault is most commonly defined as violence against a current or former intimate partner or spouse. The criminal justice system takes these allegations very seriously because of the potential for some cases to escalate in the level of violence.

In Canada, an assault is the intentional application of force to another person without their consent. An assault can also occur by an act or gesture that threatens to apply force. Domestic violence or domestic assault refers specifically to violence or assaults occurring between current or former intimate partners. Domestic violence can refer to a broad range of offences if they occurred between intimate partners. Offences such as mischief (destroying property), uttering threats, forcible confinement, and various types of assault are alleged in domestic violence cases.

In certain circumstances, the prosecutor may exercise their discretion to withdraw charges of domestic assault. There are unique considerations in domestic assault cases that will make prosecutors generally reluctant to withdraw charges. The potential for repeated abuse, power imbalances, and victims being trapped in dangerous situations due to concerns over their children guide the heightened concern prosecutors have when thinking about withdrawing domestic assault charges. Prosecutors are loath to withdraw domestic assault charges even in situations where the complainant is recanting, refusing to testify, or wants the charges dropped. See the Crown Prosecution Manual: https://www.ontario.ca/document/crown-prosecution-manual/d-23-intimate-partner-violence

Hiring a skilled criminal lawyer with experience defending domestic assault charges is very important because they will have proven strategies that will increase the prospect of a withdrawal.

The prosecutor will commonly request that an accused person enters a peace bond in exchange for the charges being withdrawn. A peace bond is not a criminal conviction or finding of guilt, but it is a promise to the court to follow certain conditions with a monetary amount pledged. Failing to follow the conditions of the peace bond, however, can result in new criminal charges and the loss of the monetary pledge. Advice from a criminal lawyer should be sought prior to entering a peace bond.

Many accused persons are held for a bail hearing. Some are released with charges from the police station. In nearly all domestic violence cases there will be restrictions on the accused person being able to contact and communicate with the complainant. This restriction means the family will be separated unless an application is made to remove the “no contact” condition of the undertaking or recognizance of bail.

In many cases, the very nature of the system will pressure an accused person to plead guilty. The accused person is separated from their spouse and/or children, causing emotional stress. There is also financial pressure being forced to find separate accommodations. Finally, an accused person may not appreciate that they have viable legal defences to the charges. Self-represented accused persons regularly enter guilty pleas to be able to “get it over with” or to resume contact with their spouse. These findings of guilt can prevent future job opportunities and make accused persons inadmissible to various countries. It is very important to hire a criminal lawyer to ensure proper representation.

Cases that are not withdrawn will either be set for a trial or a guilty plea.

The length of time a domestic assault conviction stays on your criminal record depends on the result obtained. Charges that are withdrawn will remain as non-conviction records that can often be removed upon request from your lawyer. These non-conviction records are used by police for investigative purposes and for vulnerable sector checks (jobs involving children and the elderly often require this level of police screening).

First-time offenders, where there is no serious violence or injuries to the victim, will sometimes receive a discharge if they show strong signs of rehabilitation. A discharge is a non-permanent criminal record. An absolute discharge is accessible for one year after the date on which the offender was discharged absolutely. A conditional discharge involves a term of probation and will be accessible for three years after the date the probation concludes (the date the offender is discharged from the probation conditions).

For more serious incidents of domestic assault, offenders will receive a suspended sentence or jail. These sentences are permanent criminal records. If the prosecution proceeds summarily, then an offender can apply for a record suspension (meaning the record can only be accessed in limited circumstances) five years after completion of their sentence. If the prosecution proceeds by indictment, then an offender can apply for a record suspension ten years after completion of their sentence.

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