In a domestic assault case, having a charge withdrawn is the best possible outcome. It’s possible to have domestic assault charges dropped with the assistance of an experienced domestic assault lawyer such as Pyzer Criminal Lawyers.
Domestic assault charges are unique in that once a domestic assault charge has been laid, only the Crown Attorney’s Office can have the charge withdrawn.
In this article, we’ll discuss how it may be possible to get assault charges dropped and what steps someone accused of domestic violence should take when they are facing criminal charges.
How do you get assault charges dropped?
In order to get domestic assault charges dropped, a criminal defence lawyer can engage on behalf of the accused in pre-trial discussions with the Crown in order to argue for a withdrawal of your domestic assault charges. Some of the things the Crown Attorney’s Office takes into consideration when determining whether or not to drop a domestic assault charge include:
- whether or not you have prior involvement with the police
- whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction
- whether or not you have a prior criminal record
- whether this was a single incident rather than multiple incidents
- whether there was a child present in the home
- whether there were allegations of stalking or controlling behaviour
- whether the complainant recants his or her statement
Based on these factors, the Crown may decide to have the criminal charges dropped. However, it may not be possible to have the domestic violence charges dropped when these mitigating factors are not present.
Complainants or alleged victims who seek to have charges dropped or withdrawn are best served by consulting a criminal lawyer for the purposes of obtaining independent legal advice. Great care must be taken when contacting the authorities and requesting criminal charges be withdrawn.
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Can assault charges be dropped by the victim in Canada?
Even if the complainant requests for the charge to be withdrawn, they do not have the authority to get domestic assault charges dropped. This means that once a call to the police is made, and a domestic assault charge has been laid, the complainant completely loses control over the proceedings and the police and the Crown Attorney’s Office take over. Nonetheless, it is possible to have domestic violence charges withdrawn with the help of the right legal advice and criminal defence lawyer.
The Supreme Court of Canada in Krieger confirmed that Crown Attorneys enjoy a lot of prosecutorial discretion, and this includes the discretion to have domestic assault charges dropped. Courts only review this discretion if the Crown Attorney’s conduct is so egregious that it seriously compromises trial fairness and/or integrity of the justice system.
With this broad discretion, Ontario Crown Attorney’s have discretion whether or not to prosecute the charges the police have laid (i.e to withdraw the charges), prosecute with a lesser charge, or accept a guilty plea with a lesser charge.
A criminal defence lawyer is able to assess the strengths and weakness of your particular circumstances to see how they should proceed with persuading the Crown Attorney’s Office to exercise their discretion to withdraw your domestic assault charge.
Can the Complainant be Charged for Taking Back their Statement?
Complainants or alleged victims who attempt to change their story open themselves up to potential criminal charges for misleading a police officer. Such potential criminal charges can include:
- Obstructing a peace officer (punishable by up to 5 years in jail);
- Obstructing justice (punishable by up to 10 years in jail); and,
- Fabricating evidence (punishable by up to 14 years in jail).
What’s the difference between charges being withdrawn or stayed?
Having charges withdrawn is not the same as having a charged stayed. If a charge is stayed, it is possible for the Crown prosecutor to bring the charge back to life within a year. Therefore, it is in an accused’s best interest to attempt to have the charges withdrawn.
What if the Crown refuses to withdraw the charges?
If the Crown refuses to drop the domestic violence charges, a criminal defence lawyer can still work with the Crown to determine if another more favourable outcome is available rather than proceeding to trial. Domestic violence charges are taken very seriously by the Crown, and depending on the circumstances of the case, the Crown is obligated to proceed with a charge where they have a reasonable prospect of conviction. However, even if the domestic violence charges can’t be dropped, we will still work with you to understand your rights and raise every possible defence available to you.
What To Do When You Are Charged With Domestic Assault
With the right legal advice and criminal defence, domestic criminal charges in Ontario may be dropped. Being convicted for a domestic assault charge has many potential negative consequences for you. It may have negative consequences when obtaining employment and may prevent you from travelling to the United States.
If you are looking to understand whether you can have your domestic assault charge dropped, it is in your best interests to hire an experienced lawyer to defend your legal rights. If you have been charged with domestic assault, contact Pyzer Criminal Lawyers today. We will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your criminal case.