These past few weeks in quarantine have been undeniably stressful. The world turned upside down practically overnight, with businesses, schools, and public spaces closing in a matter of days, and in remarkably quick succession. While life was relatively normal at the start of the month, March ended with Ontarians under strict orders to stay at home in order to keep each other safe from the spread of Covid-19.
Yet social distancing can become an unpleasant reality when one’s home is an equally toxic environment. This period of forced isolation has resulted in families who may have been already under strain to now be together 24 hours a day without respite. This means that couples in troubled relationships, spouses who were already nearing separation or divorce, or former partners trying to navigate complex custody and access arrangements find themselves in truly awful circumstances. When hit with the added stresses of job uncertainty or loss, and dismal global forecasts on a 24-hour news cycle, tensions inevitably come to a blow.
Domestic Assault is not a formal charge in Canada, but an assault becomes domestic when it involves two intimate or formerly intimate partners. The gender of the partners does not matter, nor does either party’s relationship status at the time of the assault. Yet when it comes to sentencing, courts treat domestic violence very seriously. It is also not up to the person allegedly assaulted to decide whether or not to “press charges” – if an assault is reported, it is police and prosecutors who determine how to proceed.
The rates of domestic or intimate partner violence in Canada are alarming. Statistics from the last decade have shown that one in every four violent crimes reported to police is domestic partner violence, with women as the reported victims roughly 80% of the time. While statistics are higher for two individuals dating than for married spouses, there is an even greater risk for partnerships that have ended, especially if violence leads to even more serious crimes such as homicide. In Canada, women who have recently separated from their spouse are six times more likely to be victims of homicide from their former partner, than women who are still married to their partner.
These are serious issues, and the current climate sets a perfect storm for an increased risk of incidents. Domestic violence charges are far-reaching, and can have an impact on other intertwined legal matters such as bail conditions, and child custody and access issues.
Yet if you or someone you know has been charged with domestic violence, all hope is not lost. Ontario maintains a special court known as the Domestic Violence Court that deals specifically with domestic violence cases, and supports a number of early intervention frameworks such as education and counselling to those accused in order to prevent future incidents. However these programs are not available for every individual charged, and may not be the right fit given an individual’s circumstances.At MMH, our job is to help you navigate through the complex criminal law system, and guide you through making choices that are in your best interests. This includes walking you through each stage of the offence that you have been charged with, explaining how we can assist you in the legal process, and offering our recommendations for your next steps. We are experienced litigators who have successfully represented clients through the most difficult battles, and we would be honoured to help you fight yours. Contact us today to set up your consultation.