Criminal Defence » Domestic Violence

Ottawa Domestic Violence Lawyer

Ottawa Domestic Violence LawyersAssaulting a partner—domestic assault—is vigorously prosecuted in Ottawa. Intimate domestic assault is a criminal act.  Prosecutors can charge the assailant even without the cooperation of the victim, which can happen in domestic disputes.  The consequences of a conviction for domestic assault can be devastating: a long-term criminal record and the resulting negative impact on employment, education, housing and even travel.

Defending a charge of domestic assault requires experienced and competent defence counsel.  To fully protect your rights and liberty, call Auger Hollingsworth now for a free consultation.

What is Domestic Violence and Assault?

Intimate relationship violence and assault are crimes in Canada. They can occur in a casual dating situation or in a long-term marriage. No relationship is exempt.  The range of behaviours that constitute a crime can include violence in the form of assault, as well as coercion, threats and intimidation, stalking, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and economic abuse. 

The rigor of prosecution can be escalated to protect the victim and members of the household, especially children, as well as the safety of the law enforcement officers. And most importantly, once a charge is laid, the police cannot withdraw the charge, even if the victim recants her story or decides not to pursue the prosecution.  The crown attorney makes all decisions about the prosecution and often will take the case to trial where warranted.

An assault does not have to result in bodily harm in order to be a criminal act. A kick or a punch, a shove, or even grabbing might be enough to charge assault. Domestic assault can also be charged along with other violent crimes:

  • Assault with a weapon
  • Assault causing bodily harm
  • Aggravated assault
  • Uttering a death threat
  • Uttering a threat to cause harm 
  • Forcible confinement
  • Choking to overcome resistance
  • Mischief in damaging property
  • Criminal harassment
  • Breaking and entering a dwelling

To protect the victim and any minor children, a restraining order and/or strict bail conditions can be obtained to restrict access by the accused to the estranged partner and family.

When police become involved in a domestic dispute, either because one of the parties, a family member, or a neighbour called them in, if there is evidence of violence or a threat of violence, one of the partners will be arrested and charged. 

As stated, police cannot withdraw charges once they have been filed even if the victim recants or the couple attempts reconciliation. Personal relationships are often ambiguous and murky, so involving counsel to help sort through the circumstances of the relationship and the involvement of the police is highly advisable.  

Bail Hearing in Domestic Assault Cases

The court can impose strict bail conditions that separate the accused from the family and family home.  These conditions can be imposed without the consent or request of the complaining victim. Of course, these conditions are expensive and emotionally painful. Experienced defence counsel is needed to protect your rights in this important stage of any criminal proceeding.

Understanding the Consequences 

In addition to arrest, the consequences of a charge of domestic assault can separate families, preventing contact between spouses or a spouse and children. Such separation can impact divorce and custody proceedings as well as have significant economic ramifications: separate living quarters and the cost of defence and divorce lawyers. 

What are potential Defences?

Charges of domestic assault can originate in real acts of violence or threats of violence or can be falsely charged to bolster claims in a divorce or custody battle. Discerning whether the charges are true or falsely claimed as revenge is why you need skilled and competent defence counsel.

The credibility of the complaining witness’s version of the story is an important inquiry that requires examination of the evidence, including other witness testimony, phone records, medical records, and video evidence. Questioning the complainant’s credibility can involve friends and family who have knowledge of the state of the relationship and its volatility. 

Skilled defence lawyers understand how to examine witnesses who are friendly as well as hostile witnesses, especially the complainant, to discern a more accurate portrayal of the events leading up to the exchange that led to the arrest. Evidence of the true nature of the relationship often requires an examination of texts, emails, and voice messages. 

As in all assault cases, self-defence can be a viable defence when:

  • Force is used against you or you have reasonable grounds to believe that force would be used against you;
  • Your response to this threat is to protect yourself; and
  • Your response was reasonable and proportional under the circumstances, considering the size discrepancies between you and the complainant, and whether anyone was in a state of intoxication.  

Contact our Domestic Violence Lawyers Today

Choosing an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer can help preserve your rights and defences to criminal charges. At Auger Hollingsworth, we offer a free consultation session during which you can assess our lawyers and we can assess the strength of the prosecution’s claims. During this free consultation, we will:

  • Review the criminal charges, if filed, or the request for appearance or subpoena for documents, and any police reports and other documents.
  • We will listen to your story and map out the areas for investigation, begin to compile a list of witnesses, and compose the various strategies the facts and law offer.
  • We will provide you with an estimate of the cost of legal services.
  • If we are unable to provide you with a defence, we will refer you to other counsel.

Call (613) 699-8192 today to schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.

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