My spouse doesn’t want to press charges so will they be dropped? When it comes to domestic violence related charges (assault, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, criminal harassment, uttering threats, mischief, unlawfully being in a dwelling house) this is one of the most frequent questions we get. Most people expect that the answer will be a resounding yes. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as clear as that. First, your spouse does not have the ultimate say in the matter; the Crown Attorney does. Second, the Attorney General treats domestic offences very seriously and a decision to drop charges will not be made lightly. That said, your spouse’s wishes may still have some impact on how the proceedings unfold.
A spouse will normally be asked to provide their input into a case, frequently through the Victim Witness Assistance Program. This input will be considered by an assistant Crown Attorney. Its impact could be felt in a number of ways. At one end of the spectrum, the Crown may decide to simply withdraw the charges. At the other end of the spectrum, the Crown may still insist on a guilty plea and offer only a small reduction in their sentencing position. In between those two extreme positions is another option: a peace bond. In some cases where a spouse does not wish to proceed with the charges, the assistant Crown Attorney may decide to withdraw the charges in exchange for the accused entering into a peace bond. A peace bond does not require you to plead guilty and does not result in a criminal conviction (for s description of the peace bond see our previous blog entry “The Ghomeshi trial ends with a section 810 Peace Bond – What is a peace bond?”) Although this type of resolution avoids a criminal conviction it can still have repercussions in other areas of your life, such as employment or travel. Before agreeing to enter into a peace bond it is best to consult with your lawyer about how these potential repercussions might affect your particular case.