Changes to Domestic Violence Law

September 30, 2019
 Toronto Defence Lawyers
  • As recent as March of 2018, a new bill, Bill C-75, was presented in Parliament with the overall goal of both decreasing backlog in the courts, as well as increasing the severity and seriousness in the way that intimate partner violence is handled within the criminal justice system.
  • According to section 265(1) of the Criminal Code, assault is defined as when a person, without the consent of another person, applies force intentionally to that other person (directly or indirectly), attempts or threatens by an act or gesture to apply force to another person or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that force will be applied, or while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, impedes another person or begs. It is important to note that this section includes all forms of assault.
  • Some say that the current system is broken and this new bill allegedly “has the potential to enhance the safety of victims and to increase their trust in the criminal-justice system”.
  • Others are worried that some of the proposed amendments are a violation of accused's Charter rights.
  • There are multiple changes to the law that are included in Bill C-75 that are important to know if you ever find yourself with a domestic violence charge.
  • First, Bill C-75 would introduce broader definitions around domestic violence. This would be done by replacing “spouse” and “common-law partner” in the Criminal Code with the more inclusive “intimate partner”.
  • The definition would also be altered to include past partners. It is important to note that with this bill, offences that were previously not as serious will increase in severity to match existing domestic violence offences.
  • Furthermore, as domestic violence offenders allegedly present a high risk of breaching bail conditions, this bill would implement a higher threshold for bail.
  • If you are charged with domestic assault more than once, a reverse onus would be put on you to prove why you should be released.
  • This means that you would have to prove why you should be released rather than the Crown proving why you should not be released.
  • Lastly, Bill C-75 would result in increased sentences for repeat offenders. Under this bill, the maximum penalty you may face if you’re a repeat domestic offender would be increased. The law would also be clarified to convey that sentencing provisions in regards to intimate-partner violence as an aggravating factor applies to both current and former partners.
  • Although some judges are already following the practices that the government is now attempting to legislate, with the introduction of Bill C-75 these practices are being “codified” and are more likely to implemented in your court case.
  • As a result, Criminal Code offences related to domestic assault are very serious offences. If you are charged with a domestic assault offence, it is important to be represented by an experienced criminal defence lawyer if you intend to successfully fight it.
  • If you are facing criminal offence charges contact Pyzer Criminal Lawyers for your free consultation today!
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