The present lock down in Ontario, people staying home, and the cancellation of many activities is the primary reason that criminal charges in Ontario are down by over 60% in many jurisdictions. With people constantly in their homes there's one type of criminal offence which has spiked upwards in activity in this recent period, Spousal assaults.
L'infraction de voies de fait est définie de manière large et peut englober toutes sortes de contacts ayant lieu dans une relation conjugale. Ceci inclut toute situation dans laquelle une personne, sans le consentement de l'autre personne, applique intentionnellement la force à cette personne, directement ou indirectement. Ceci inclut également certaines situations dans lesquelles aucune force réelle n'est appliquée.
The offence of assault is widely defined and can capture all kinds of contact that occur in a domestic relationship. It includes any circumstance where a person, without the consent of the other person, applies force intentionally to that person, directly or indirectly. It also includes certain situations where no actual force is applied.
You are charged with a criminal offence, such as a domestic assault. You are released from the police station, given a date to appear in court and told that if you fail to appear in court, you could be subject to a bench warrant. But really what you are not told is about the next steps in the process and what to expect from this whole process. One of the most important steps after you have been released from custody is to receive the disclosure in your matter. Your disclosure is essentially the evidence gathered by the police to support the laying of the charges against you. It may involve written witness statements, police notes, photographs, video statements, video surveillance, or anything else that the police gathered during the course of their investigation.
You have been charged with a domestic assault and your lawyer says "Let's make an appointment to review the disclosure". You are wondering what you are going to be reviewing. Disclosure is all the relevant evidence, on your case, that the Crown has in their possession. It will include a summary of the Crown's version of the incident, all the police notes and reports, witness statements, any video or audio evidence, expert reports, business records and any photos. The Crown must provide to your lawyer all evidence that will be used to prosecute you on the charges you are facing.
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.