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Domestic Assault

Domestic Assault

Domestic Assault Lawyer in Toronto

Adam Steven Boni is a domestic violence lawyer in Toronto with extensive experience in these cases and over 25 years of courtroom experience. He possesses the skills and knowledge and experience to successfully defend you against false allegations of domestic violence.

He understands the internal policies that dictate crown counsel's handling of these cases, and knows what evidence to marshal and, if necessary, disclose to the crown in order to end these prosecutions even before a trial date is set.

Mr. Boni also understands the Family Law process in Ontario and has worked closely with Family Law counsel in assisting clients who find themselves before the Criminal and Family courts at the same time.

Working with private investigators, experts and professional counsellors, Mr. Boni has helped men and women from all walks of life clear their names, and get back on a better path in life.

Adam understands that the impact of a Domestic Assault charge is immediate, emotional, life changing, and that when children are involved in the relationship, the impact of a charge itself can be utterly devastating.

If you or your loved one is charged with a domestic assault, seek out a lawyer with the necessary experience, maturity and skill. Call Adam Steven Boni, LL.B. and let him help you or your loved one prepare their best defence.

Domestic Assault Lawyer Toronto

What is Domestic Assault?

Assault is a crime in Canada by virtue of s.265 and s.266 6 of the Criminal Code. An assault occurs when:

  • without the consent of another person, a person applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;

  • a person attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he 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.

The phrase "domestic assault" was coined by lawyers and judges to describe those criminal cases where the accused person is in an intimate personal relationship with the complainant. There are no special legal rules that apply to a "domestic assault". It does not require the complainant and accused to be married. It can refer to an alleged assault by a husband against his wife, a young woman against her boyfriend, a mother against her daughter, or a brother against his sister.

If a person is convicted of domestic assault, he or she may face a variety of penalties depending on the seriousness of the assault, the prior criminal history of the accused, and the circumstances surrounding the incident. Jail time, fines, probation, counselling and a criminal record are all possible. A criminal record may impact a person's ability to travel and work in certain fields of employment.

What if There Are No Injuries?

There is no requirement that an assault requires that the accused person caused a lasting injury to the complainant. Shoves, pushes, raised hands or weapons, threatening words and gestures, are captured by the definition of assault in Canada. Just because no injury was caused, does not mean that an assault charge cannot be laid or prosecuted in court.

What if Injuries Occur?

If injuries were allegedly suffered by the complainant, the charge of Assault may be upgraded to Assault Causing Bodily Harm or Aggravated Assault depending on the severity of the injuries that were allegedly sustained.

Assault Causing Bodily Harm

Assault Causing Bodily Harm is an upgraded offence of assault in Canada. It is committed by anyone who, in committing an assault, causes bodily harm to the complainant. Bodily harm is defined as any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the health or comfort of the person and that is "more than merely transient or trifling in nature". This definition captures bruising, cuts, scrapes and broken bones.

This offence is punishable by up to 18 months in jail if the crown elects to proceed by way of summary conviction, or up to 10 years in jail if the crown elects to proceed by Indictment. The sentences imposed for a domestic Assault Causing Bodily Harm will vary depending on several factors including the extent of physical and emotional injury done to the complainant, the prior criminal history of the accused person, and the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated Assault is the most serious form of assault in Canada. If the accused person allegedly wounded, maimed, disfigured or endangered the life of another person, the accused will face a charge of Aggravated Assault. Aggravated Assault is an Indictable offence and these cases in the domestic context often result in the most severe jail penalties, up to a maximum of 14 years.

What If a Weapon Is Used?

The offence of Assault with a Weapon occurs when a person carries, uses or threatens to use a weapon or an imitation thereof against another person where a weapon is used as a tool in respect of the force. Raising a hammer, waving a knife, or hitting a person with an object intended to be used as a weapon are examples of Assault with a Weapon.

The use of weapons in a domestic relationship is taken very seriously by the Crown. This offence can be prosecuted as either a Summary Conviction offence, with a maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment or as an Indictable offence with up to 10 years in prison.

Can the Complainant Control Whether the Accussed Is Arrested?

Police officers are not family counsellors or family referees. When the police are dispatched to a domestic assault scene by a 9-1-1 call, they attend there to do their job, which is to enforce the law. If they form reasonable grounds to believe that a domestic assault has occurred, they will arrest and take the person into custody.

Even if the assault alleged is minimal, such as a push, the police invariably lay a charge, take the accused into custody and impose release conditions to prohibit the accused person:

  • from returning to the family home;
  • from contacting the complainant directly or indirectly verbally, in writing, and electronically;
  • from attending at any place of school, employment or other place where the complainant may be.

The police lay the charge and control this process, not the complainant.

Many people believe that the complainant has a say in whether the accused person should be charged. This is not correct.

Can the Complainant Control Whether the Accused Faces a Trial?

The complainant does not control the court process and does not have a say as to whether the matter should go to trial. This decision belongs to the Crown alone. Crown counsel are subject to strict policy directives and guidelines as to how to proceed with domestic assault charges.

Specialized "Domestic Crown" teams have been set up to ensure consistency of approach and adherence to Ministry policies and guidelines. The Crown is obliged to continue with a prosecution is there is a "reasonable prospect of conviction" and prosecution "is in the public interest". The "public interest" part of the test is weighed "in light of the predominant need to protect the victim".

Crown counsel will consider numerous factors, including:

  • The severity of the assault;
  • The presence of children;
  • A history of police involvement;
  • A history of previous domestic assaults by the accused against the same or different domestic partners;
  • The accused's background;
  • The presence of mental health, drug or alcohol addiction issues;
  • The complainant's wishes;
  • The steps taken by the accused person to address any causes of the alleged behaviour, such as anger management counselling, mental health counselling, pharmacotherapy, addictions treatment

What if There Were No Witnesses to the Alleged Assault? Is the Word of the Complainant Enough to Charge and Convict?

There is no requirement that a complainant's allegation of domestic assault requires corroboration.

Domestic assault cases often involve no witnesses other than the accused and the complainant.

In these cases, the trial judge must assess the credibility of the complainant and the accused person, if he or she testifies, and make findings as to whether the Crown has proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The seminal decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Her Majesty the Queen v. W.(D.) contains the instruction that trial judges must follow in making their final decision:

  1. First, if you believe the evidence of the accused, obviously you must acquit.
  2. Second, if you do not believe the testimony of the accused but you are left in reasonable doubt by it, you must acquit.
  3. Third, even if you are not left in doubt by the evidence of the accused, you must ask yourself whether, on the basis of the evidence which you do accept, you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt by that evidence of the guilt of the accused."
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