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Domestic Assault and Peace Bonds

One of the first questions a client asks whcn charged with Domestic Assault is if there is any way that they could “get” a Peace Bond. Of course, in most  cases of domestic assault the Peace Bond is a happy ending. The charge is withdrawn. The accused avoids a criminal record. Life returns to normal. In some cases the parties have reconciled. Often, the relationships that gave rise to the allegations, cannot survive the test of bail orders restricting contact and the fact that the complainant made the accusation to the police.

The reality in the present criminal justice system is that Peace Bonds are very hard to obtain in the context of a domestic assault allegation. In some jurisdictions, it is almost impossible to obtain a Peace Bond prior to a trial date. On the trial date, where the prosecutor is of the view that the evidence in support of the allegation is not strong enough for a Court to convict, the client may be offered a Peace Bond. The nastier the allegation, the more likely that the prosecutor is going to let the Court make the call rather that be critized later if the Peace Bond creates a controversy.

Generally speaking, given the current political landscape of the offence of Domestic Assault, a Peace Bond is only available in the most minor cases. Threats of violence without any violence, or history of violence, may qualify,. This is  especially true if the allegation is of a he said she said nature, and unsupported by corroborative evidence. In these cases, the prosecution is aware of the fact that a conviction is unlikely.

A Peace Bond may also be available if the nonconsensual touching is viewed as very minor, and there is no history of violence between the parties. A push. Sometimes a slap. The fact that the accused has some indication of bruising can also be a factor which may influence a prosecutor to exercise their discretion to agree to a Peace Bond. The accused’s bruises would advance his defence that the complainant was the aggressor and he was acting in self-defence.

Most courthouses in the Greater Toronto area have one or two domestic assault court days wherein those individuals charged with domestic assault related offences, appear. In the current prevailing politic individuals charged with domestic assaul are generally offered a quick exit from the justice system. Where there is no history of domestic violence,and so long as there is no significant injury to the complainant, the average accused person is offered a conditional discharge (a guilty plea which is not technically a criminal record). The bail is varied to allow the parties to reconcile (with the complainant’s written consent). After the person completes the four month one night per week Partner Assault Response Spousal programme (anger management in a spousal context), they are placed on Probation.

At Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers, we are well informed, experienced, and familiar with the politic underlying Domestic Assault prosecution policies.  We can’t promise you a Peace Bond, but we can advance a strong argument that one should be available in the particular circumstances of your case.

24 Nov 2009

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