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October 2016

Domestic Assault: What you need to know

A domestic assault charge can have serious and long lasting consequences. No matter how minor the incident, it will be treated as a very serious matter by police and prosecutors. As soon as a spouse, family member, a neighbour or other third party calls the police to report a domestic incident, the case will be handled differently from other criminal cases. The police will show up quickly, and they will almost always make an arrest, even when there are no injuries.

Know your rights

Anytime you are arrested, you have several fundamental rights afforded to you under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right to speak to a lawyer without delay.  Many people still do not exercise their right to speak with a lawyer when they have been charged with domestic assault. While the police may tell you that this is your chance to tell them your side of the story, the reality is that the police are not on your side, and anything you tell them can and will be used against you. It is always recommended that you exercise your right to speak to a lawyer and to otherwise remain silent (that is do not talk to the police about the incident or otherwise).

A knowledgeable criminal lawyer will be in the best position to provide you with immediate legal advice upon you being arrested for domestic assault.

Know your bail conditions

After your arrest, you will likely be released with conditions. Bail conditions last until the completion of the case or unless they are varied, either directly by the police or by a Justice of the Peace or a judge. One of the basic conditions is likely to be that you do not have any communication or contact “directly or indirectly” with your partner or spouse, and/or that you do not go to the address where he/she resides (which may be your house) or go to his or her employment or educational facility.

The term “communicate” refers to any form of communication. This means that you cannot use a third party to contact or communicate with your partner or spouse. It also means that you cannot post messages on social media directed at your spouse, knowing that he or she is likely to see those messages. Even if your partner or spouse initiates contact with you, this is not a defence if you continue to engage in the communication.

It is fundamental that you don’t breach your conditions. It is highly recommended that you speak to a knowledgeable criminal defence lawyer as to changing the conditions of your release.

Know the process

A conviction for a domestic assault can result in a criminal record, the loss of your employment, can prevent you from getting certain types of jobs in the future, and could prevent you from traveling to the United States.

Resolving a domestic assault case is not as simple as your spouse asking to have the charges dropped. It is not up to the complainant to drop or pursue the charges. The case is dealt within the criminal justice system.

It is highly recommended that if you have been arrested or charged with domestic assault, you contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer to represent your interests.

We are very experienced with domestic assault cases. Don’t delay and contact us if you have been charged. We have many offices in BC to serve you including Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond and Kelowna.

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