Dealing with any charge of domestic violence can be frightening for everyone involved. Sometimes a disagreement turns into a fight and then escalates into a call to 911, and then everything spins out of control.
For many clients of Pender Litigation, this is the first time they have been in trouble with the law.
Sometimes the relationship cannot be salvaged. If there is a history of violence or accusations of violence, you may want us to help you deal with the criminal charge and then possibly provide referrals to trusted family lawyers who can handle your separation.
Helping You Move Forward
A number of factors may lead to charges being laid:
- Neighbours or relatives concerned for somebody’s safety
- Threats or perceived threats
- A history of family violence
- Alcohol or drugs
- Wrongful accusations, sometimes related to custody disputes or allegations of child abuse
- A history of marital or relationship difficulties
Our Vancouver domestic assault lawyers will help you find a way through this situation. We will explain the evidence against you as well as any restrictions on you while the process is ongoing and help you deal with them, especially if the restrictions affect your contact with your children.
We can also help the complainant to obtain Independent Legal Advice should that be requested.. Many people who call 911 in the heat of a dispute end up feeling just as out of control as the accused. Although we cannot give your accuser legal advice, we can help find a lawyer who can.
We will do our best to help you resolve this in a constructive way, going beyond the criminal justice system if necessary. We have access to counselling and other professionals who can help. If the underlying problems can be dealt with, we can speak to the Crown about resolving the legal matters in a way that will not only protect you from a criminal record, but help you and your family move forward.
Domestic Assault FAQ
What is domestic assault?
Domestic assault refers to assaults committed against persons of the same household and current or former intimate partners. Classified according to type (simple, aggravated, violent, sexual and weaponed) and resulting damages, assault describes any intentional non consensual application of force, ranging from implicit threats to bodily harm resulting in hospitalization.
What are the penalties for domestic assault?
Domestic assault is not a discrete offence. Penalties for domestic assault depend on the type (such as simple, aggravated, weaponed, sexual, or violent), manner and toll (physical or emotional) of the assault to which the charge of domestic assault is appended. In determining what sentence to seek, the Crown will assess the extent of the assaultive behaviour and the circumstances from which it arose. Domestic assault is considered an aggravating circumstance on sentencing and can lead to more serious penalties than non domestic charges.
What are the bail conditions for domestic assault?
So long as you lack a history of violence (domestic or otherwise), the court can usually be satisfied that releasing you from custody before trial is safe and appropriate. Your problem then becomes navigating the restrictive bail conditions imposed on your release.
You will not be allowed to return to your home if the complainant lives with you — even if you own the property and the complainant merely lives with you. This means that you will not be able to coordinate bill and utility payments or financial arrangements.
In certain circumstances bail conditions can be varied, but this takes time and negotiations with the Crown. Bail conditions must be complied with unless and until they are varied lest you be charged with breaching bail and jailed.
If you are charged with uttering threats — which do not have to be uttered in person but can also be conveyed over the phone, by text, Facebook or email — you may not understand what is happening, or why your words have been turned into a criminal charge.
Often threats are in the eye of the beholder. Many of our clients have no intent to threaten to harm the person whom they are charged with threatening, even though their words can be interpreted as threatening death or bodily harm or damage to property.
Our job is to help clients understand the charge and the evidence against them, understand how the law applies to their situation, and help them decide how to deal with the charge without endangering their own case.
Untangling The Facts
Threats are often related to domestic violence charges, but may also be threats of terrorism or threats against a neighbour or other person with whom you are in a dispute.
While many people say things in the heat of the moment that they may not mean, there is a difference between unwise words and threats of violence. There may be a number of reasons you have been charged:
- Your accuser may genuinely fear for his or her safety
- He or she may have misinterpreted the situation
- Your alleged victim may have a reason for accusing you, such as an ongoing marital or custody dispute
- The charges may be part of a harassment or domestic assault charge
The Crown does not have to prove that you can carry out your threat, but only that a reasonable person would have thought that you meant for it to be taken seriously. Being found guilty can have serious consequences, including incarceration, loss of custody and loss of employment.
Unfortunately, in trying to explain their side of the story, many of our clients inadvertently make their situation worse.
Our lawyers want to hear your side of the story. We want to be your voice and help you get through this with the best possible outcome, whether you decide to go to court or plead guilty to the charge.
Often harassment charges are filed in conjunction with charges of domestic violence and uttering threats. As with other domestic violence offences, the criminal justice system is not well suited to deal with the issues that bring about situations in which charges are filed.
Understanding Unwelcome Communication
Harassment can happen in many ways. Often, the person who is charged believes his or her communication is simply part of an attempt to work out a dispute about separation or custody between spouses, or an attempt to work out a romantic disagreement, or a neighbour dispute.
Many kinds of communication can be considered criminal harassment:
- Talking or attempting to talk to the complainant despite being asked to stop
- Coming physically near him or her
- Watching his or her home or workplace
- Unwanted texts, emails and Facebook messages
- Harassing phone calls or messages
The Crown must prove that your accuser has a reasonable fear for his or her safety. We will explain how your actions may be seen by the court, and some of the consequences of being convicted on harassment or stalking charges. We can clarify what kind of communication will help or hurt your case. We will help you to avoid any further trouble of this kind..
Our lawyers will also help you explore alternatives to going through a trial. Peace bonds, conditional discharges and mediation may be possibilities. If there are issues that require individual or marital counselling, we can provide referrals to trusted professionals.
Get Legal Counsel Now!
If you are facing a domestic violence allegation then you need answers now and you need help immediately. Do not delay. We are here to help. Fill in the form below to get legal counsel now!
PLEASE NOTE: If this is an emergency or if you are in custody or been contacted by authorities then call our offices 24/7 at 604-669-6699