Domestic Assault

Separating Domestic Assaults from All Other Assaults

Domestic assault is not a separate and distinct offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Rather, domestic assaults fall within the various categories of assault, including assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm and sexually related assaults. However, because of the prevalence and seriousness nature of domestic assaults, as well as the fact that the Crown Attorney takes domestic assaults very seriously, it is helpful to address domestic assaults separate from other assaults.

What is Domestic Assault?

Domestic assault includes all charges of assault where there is an intimate relationship between the accused and complainant. Thus, domestic assault includes relationships between opposite and same sex partners, and includes those partners involved in a dating relationship, as well as those partners who are either married or in a common law relationship. Click here for FAQs on Domestic Assault.

Domestic Assaults are Very Serious Offences

Domestic assaults are taken very seriously by the police, our courts and the Crown Attorney. When the police attend a home where a husband/wife, spouse, partner, or boyfriend/girlfriend has made an allegation of domestic assault, you can expect that the police will lay a criminal charge. Read about Falsely Accused of Domestic Assault.

In circumstances where you are charged with one or more domestic assaults, you can expect that the police will not release on your own recognizance, and that you will be held for a bail hearing. If you are granted bail, then you can also expect that you will have to abide by several conditions, including that you are not to have any contact direct or indirect with the person you are alleged to have assaulted, and that you are not to reside with that person. This means that you will have to make arrangements to live at another place of residence before you will be granted bail. There may also be a condition that you reside with the person who is acting as a surety on your bail. There will also be a condition that you will not be permitted to attend at the victim’s place of residence or place of employment.

The Crown Attorney also takes very seriously charges of domestic assault. The Crown Attorney is mandated by policy directives which limit the Crown Attorney’s discretion when determining whether to proceed with charges involving domestic assault. More specifically, pursuant to the Ontario Crown Policy Manuel, it will usually be in the public interest to proceed with charges involving domestic assault, so long as there is a reasonable prospect of conviction. Furthermore, the manual states that Crown counsel should exercise caution when determining whether a charge should be withdrawn at the request of the complainant.

Getting Domestic Assault Charges Withdrawn can be Difficult

Where you are charged with a domestic assault and your spouse or partner has communicated to the police or to Victim Witness Services that they do not wish to proceed with the charges and they want to continue a relationship, do not expect that the Crown Attorney will withdraw the charge. Even where your spouse or partner tells the police that they will not attend court or that they do not want to be called as a witness to give evidence, you should know that in circumstances of an alleged domestic assault, your spouse or partner is a competent and compellable witness for the Crown, and therefore there is no spousal privilege. Read more about Getting Domestic Assault Charges Withdrawn.

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