Domestic & Spousal Assault Charges in BC
Domestic Spousal Assault and violence charges in British Columbia commonly include Spousal common assault, Uttering Threats, and Forcible Confinement. The terms “Domestic Assault” and “Spousal Assault” are used interchangeably, although they are both laid under the common assault section of the Criminal Code. Sometimes these charges stem from situations where one of the parties involved or a family member calls the police, hoping to calm the situation down. The police arrive and someone is arrested, and within a few days, after the bail hearing, they find out that they can’t go back home, they can’t contact their partner, and they face the possibility of a criminal record, and possible jail time. Their partner wants the charges dropped, yet the police won’t listen. Does this sound like your situation? We can help.
Our law firm has extensive experience defending Domestic Violence and spousal assault charges and prides itself on helping clients move through the justice system and on with their lives. We have helped hundreds of first-time defendants, professionals, students, and families work their way through the challenges of the justice system, and we make ourselves available for consultations 24 hours a day, free of charge for clients charged in Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond and throughout British Columbia.
- What are some recent Spousal Assault cases you’ve defended?
- What is the maximum possible penalty for spousal and domestic Assault in British Columbia?
- How can I change bail conditions for Domestic Assault and violence charges and contact my partner or go home?
- What will happen if the police catch me contacting my partner in violation of my bail?
- What if my partner wants to drop the spousal assault charges?
- I have heard of Peace Bonds and Conditional Discharges for Domestic Violence cases. What are these?
- What are some defences to a Domestic Assault charge?
R. v. W.K.  – Client, an international student on a visa, is charged with Break and Enter into a dwelling house and Mischief Under $5000. The allegations are domestic related and involve an ex-girlfriend and an acrimonious break-up. The Crown proceeds by indictment, and the maximum possible sentence is imprisonment for life. Following four month negotiation period with the Crown, the client enters a plea to just the Mischief charge and the Break and Enter is dropped. A criminal record would have meant a possible deportation order and removal from Canada. The judge accepts a joint recommendation for a Conditional Discharge with no criminal record– CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE and NO CRIMINAL RECORD
R. v. D.J.  – Client, a recent arrival to Canada, charged with a half-dozen related offences including Domestic Assault, Uttering Threats, and Assault Bodily Harm in Lower Mainland. Ex-wife alleges serious pattern of abuse including allegations of choking and sustained injuries dating back a number of years. Crown proceeds by incident and originally discusses 18-24 month jail term. Following 12 month negotiation and rehabilitative plan, the judge accepts a joint recommendation for probation with no-jail time – SUSPENDED SENTENCE and NO JAIL
R. v. A.M.  – Client charged with Domestic Assault relating to spouse and hires office following termination of former lawyer. Allegations include slapping and choking. Our office did not conduct original pretrial discussions, following which the matter was screened for 4 months jail. Office co-ordinates significant rehabilitative plan for client and judge agrees with defence submissions to impose a discharge – CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE and NO CRIMINAL RECORD
R. v. R.M.  – Client charged with multiple counts of domestic assault against spouse. Allegations include choking, kicking, and spitting. Several discrepancies and inconsistencies are pointed out to the prosecutor during the pretrial meeting. Officers unsuccessfully attempt to obtain more evidence from witnesses. Crown withdraws charges on next appearance citing no reasonable prospect of conviction – CHARGES WITHDRAWN and NO CRIMINAL RECORD
R. v. F.G.  – Client, a recent immigrant to Canada, charged with Sexual Assault and numerous Assaults relating to allegations involving his wife following a series of domestic disputes. Conviction on the charges could have resulted in deportation and sex offender registry. Following extensive discussions with the prosecutor discussing problems with the case, and several meetings with a judge, clients pleads to simple assault for a Conditional Discharge and the sexual assault charges are dropped. – CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE and NO CRIMINAL RECORD
R. v. M.M.  – Client, a female non-citizen, was charged with Uttering Death Threats, Assault, Domestic Assault, Assault with a Weapon, and Mischief Over $5000 following allegations of various incidents with boyfriends's family members, including damaging a home, attack with a knife, and threatening to burn down house. Serious allegations (with possible jail and immigration consequences) required trial. After 2 day cross-examination of main Crown witness, client fount not guilty of all charges.– NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES
R. v. A.E.  – Client, a female Permanent Resident, was charged with Domestic Assault, Weapons Dangerous, and Assault with a Weapon following incident with partner over infidelity. Serious allegations and possible immigration consequences emphasized during negotiation stage. Client completes significant 16 week anger management private course and enters into Peace Bond – CHARGES WITHDRAWN and NO CRIMINAL RECORD
R. v. M.S.  - Client, in Canada on a work permit, was charged with Domestic Assault and Uttering Death Threats. Complainant wife stated that client assaulted her on several occasions, provided videotaped and sworn statement, and was willing to participate in the prosecution. Police documented injuries and obtained additional medical records. Client agreed to participate in comprehensive rehabilitation plan including significant domestic violence counselling. Our office also obtained an immigration opinion outlining potential consequences of a conviction. Crown asked for a conviction and criminal record – ABSOLUTE DISCHARGE AND NO CRIMINAL RECORD
What is the maximum possible penalty for Domestic Assault in British Columbia?
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a conviction for Assault carries a maximum possible penalty of 5 years imprisonment. There are a number of other possible outcomes for criminal charges, including fines, probation, and the possibility of having your charges withdrawn.
Bail conditions can be changed either by approval of the Crown Attorney or by a special hearing in Supreme Court commonly referred to as a bail review. Your lawyer will be able to approach the Crown to negotiate a variation of your bail and present certain circumstances that would require contact between you and your partner: common children, shared expenses, or running a business together are just a few examples of circumstances that have resulted in obtaining a variation of bail for our clients. In many Domestic Assault situations where the allegations are serious, the Crown Attorney may be reluctant to change bail conditions and a review in higher court may be necessary, however each case is fact specific. You are welcome to contact Alexander directly by phone or email to discuss the possibility of changing your bail conditions.
The police are trained and experienced in ensuring that people with charges in the courts remain in compliance with their bail. Although each police force has their own special policies and procedures, it is common for police to conduct compliance checks with bail conditions by attending at the residence, knocking on doors at night, and detaining individuals who they believe to be in violation of their bail. In the eyes of the courts, a breach of bail charge is treated extremely seriously. It is a criminal offence that sometimes results in more serious consequences than the underlying charge.
Once a crime has been alleged to have been committed, it is the government that prosecutes the charges, not the complainant. If the police have successfully obtained enough evidence during the investigation stage to proceed with a case, it is likely that the Prosecutor will continue with it, regardless of the wishes of the complainant. This occurs partly because of policy concerns that the complainant’s change of heart may be the product of behind the scenes coercion by the accused or his or her friends or family.
In a very famous Supreme Court of Canada case, R. v. B. (K.G.), the court set a now well-known precedent that statements made by a person – whether a victim, witness, or complainant, can be used as evidence against an accused person at a trial even if the person who gave the statement is unavailable to testify. In serious spousal assault cases where the victim refuses to testify, prosecutors may attempt to introduce statements made by a complainant against the person charged as their evidence-in-chief. Whether or not those statements are ultimately allowed to “go in” as evidence depends on a number of factors.
A Peace Bond is an agreement that you enter into with the court for a period of time with certain conditions that you must follow. These conditions may prohibit you from contacting a certain person or attending a certain place for a given period of time. The bond functions similarly to a “restraining order” – you do not plead guilty to enter into a Peace Bond, however in order to be placed on a Peace Bond there needs to be reasonable grounds for someone to fear you. If you breach a Peace Bond by failing to obey its conditions you could be charged with a criminal offence. You can read more about Peace Bonds [here].
A Conditional Discharge is type a sentence given by a judge to a person who has been found guilty of a crime. This sentence does not result in a registered conviction against you and you are not considered to have a criminal record. However, the consequences of getting a Conditional Discharge may still be significant, depending on your occupation and the circumstances of your charge.
There are a number of defences available to all assault criminal charges, including to domestic assault that depend on the context of the allegations – who was the initial aggressor, what was the amount of force used, was the conduct in reflex to something are just a few of the questions your lawyer will ask. More information on defences to criminal charges can be found here. However each should be discussed with your lawyer on a case by case basis. If you have a criminal matter in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Abbotsford or throughout BC, we would be happy to meet with you in our office or over the telephone.