Domestic Assault

Charges involving a “domestic” relationship are sometimes more complex and are often dealt with differently in the criminal Courts than an assault against a stranger or a bar fight, for example.


What is Domestic Assault?

Domestic Assault Lawyer in Toronto Ontario

If you are charged with a Domestic Assault, your life instantly changes. When faced with a charge that can turn your world upside down, you need a domestic assault lawyer in Toronto with the experience and track record to ensure your rights are vigorously defended.

Families at the earliest stages of the criminal process are often torn apart.

If released on bail, an Accused will likely have strict conditions preventing any communication with the spouse. Charges of Domestic Assault generally ban the Accused from the family home.

In this stressful, tumultuous time, a domestic assault lawyer can argue for variations to bail conditions. These variations can mitigate the life-altering circumstances in which an Accused finds themselves, and, where appropriate, can sometimes pave the path to reconciliation.

Domestic and Spousal Assault

There is no separate offence of Domestic or Spousal Assault in the Criminal Code. Given the sensitive nature of assaults committed within personal relationships, many courthouses in the GTA have created specialized courtrooms, staffed by prosecutors that deal exclusively with cases of Assault where the Accused and Complainant are intimate partners.

To be classified as a Domestic Assault for the purposes of these courts, the Accused and Complainant need not be married. The relationship can be any personal relationship between two people; whether they are dating, living together, common law, or married. Relationships can be between a woman and a man or same sex partners.

If you or someone you know is facing Domestic Assault allegations, please contact us immediately at (416) 924-5969 . Our domestic assualt lawyers at Caramanna, Friedberg LLP have represented hundreds of clients facing Domestic Assault cases. 

See also our section on Assault with a Weapon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. Both women and men can be complainants in prosecutions where the offence(s) alleged involved domestic violence. View More

Just because a complainant expresses his or her wishes for the charge(s) to be dropped against the accused does not mean the Crown Attorney has to or will. However, a complainant can retain legal counsel to advocate on his or her behalf. In a domestic case, a complainant can provide an affidavit expressing why he or she wishes for the charge(s) to be dropped.

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If you are charged with a Domestic Assault, your life instantly changes. When faced with a charge that can turn your world upside down, you need a domestic assault lawyer with the experience and track record to ensure your rights are vigorously defended.

In this stressful, tumultuous time, a domestic assault lawyer can argue for variations to bail conditions. These variations can mitigate the life-altering circumstances in which an accused person finds themselves, and, where appropriate, can sometimes pave the path to reconciliation.

View More
  • Factual Innocence:If the Crown is unable to prove the essential elements of the particular offence beyond a reasonable doubt, they will have failed to discharge their burden, and the accused will be acquitted.
  • Accused's Belief in Consent: The Crown must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the complainant did not consent to the assault. A defence to an assault charge may be that the assault was a consensual fight (i.e. a fight between players during a hockey game or a consensual bar fight). However, a person cannot consent to an assault where a party intended to cause bodily harm.
  • Self-Defence: Self-defence is commonly invoked in assault cases. One's actions may be justified in certain circumstances, such as where one has to protect yourself or someone else. In order to successfully argue self-defence, one must be able to demonstrate that:
    • there were reasonable grounds believe that he or others were at risk of acts of force or the threat of force;
    • the accused's actions were committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or someone else; and
    • the act committed was reasonable in the circumstances.
  • Defence of Property: A person will not be guilty of an offence if they can demonstrate:
    • They have reasonable grounds to believe they are in peaceable possession of property or are acting under the authority of a person who has reasonable grounds to believe they have such possession;
    • They believe, on reasonable grounds, that someone has or is about to enter the property without authority to do so, is taking/about to take property, or has/is about to damage or destroy the property;
    • The accused's actions were for the purpose of preventing that person from entering/taking/damaging/destroying the property; and
    • The act committed was reasonable in the circumstances.
  • Violation of Charter Rights: Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, individuals are afforded specific rights, including:
    • the right against unreasonable search and seizure;
    • the right to not be arbitrarily detained;
    • the right to be informed promptly of the reasons for arrest;
    • the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay; and
    • the right to be tried within a reasonable time.

A successful Charter challenge may also result in a stay of proceedings, or evidence from your case being excluded.

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Assault is a hybrid offence, meaning the Crown can proceed by summary conviction or indictment. The potential penalties are as follows:

  • If Crown proceeds by summary conviction: the maximum punishment is a fine of not more than $5000 or a term of imprisonment of not more than two years less a day, or both.
  • If Crown proceeds by indictment: maximum punishment of 5 years imprisonment.
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Under section 265 of the Criminal Code, a person commits an assault when:

  • without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
  • he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
  • while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs

There is no separate offence of Domestic or Spousal Assault in the Criminal Code. Given the sensitive nature of assaults committed within personal relationships, many courthouses in the GTA have created specialized courtrooms, staffed by prosecutors that deal exclusively with cases of Assault where the Accused and Complainant are intimate partners.

To be classified as a Domestic Assault for the purposes of these courts, the Accused and Complainant need not be married. The relationship can be any personal relationship between two people; whether they are dating, living together, common law, or married. Relationships can be between a woman and a man or same sex partners.

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In a domestic case, there is almost always a no-contact order between the accused and the complainant while the case is ongoing (and potentially afterwards, as well). The complainant may give his or her consent to have contact with the accused person by filing a letter with the police. However, the complainant can revoke the consent at any time, without reason, by simply calling the police,

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