In Canada, the Criminal Code does not distinguish between “felony” or “misdemeanour” charges; this is a misunderstanding stemming from the American Criminal Justice System. However, this article will endeavour to provide some insight into these types of charges in the American Criminal Justice System.
Domestic violence refers to any act of violence or abuse which occurs within a home setting. Generally, domestic violence refers to abuse between partners, but it can apply to anyone living in the same home, including a relative or roommate. In the United States of America, a charge of domestic violence can be considered a felony or a misdemeanour, depending on the specifics of the situation. It will also highly depend on in which state the crime occurred. Very simply, misdemeanours can be understood to be crimes that are punishable by up to one year in county jail.
On the other hand, felonies are considered to be the most serious type of criminal offence. Police officers, in consultation with the Deputy District Attorney, will review the case and decide what level of charges to file. Generally, felony charges are only filed when there are injuries or where an accused has a history of domestic violence offences on their record.
It is important that if you have been charged with any domestic violence offence you speak with a defence lawyer as soon as possible. They will be able to assist you in understanding the precise nature of your charges and the best way to defend those charges.
When is Domestic Violence a Misdemeanor?
Domestic violence will be classified as a misdemeanour when it involves a party who uses, attempts to use, or threatens to use physical force against another member of their household. Generally, misdemeanour charges have a maximum sentence of one year in prison. Most cases of domestic violence will be misdemeanours and generally, these situations result in charges of assault or battery.
When is Domestic Violence a Felony?
A misdemeanour domestic violence charge could become a felony in several different situations. The most common reasons that a misdemeanour will become a felony are because the accused has a record of abuse and/or domestic violence charges, or because the victim sustained more severe injuries. Generally, the more serious a situation, the more likely it is that it will result in felony charges.
What Factors May Convert a Misdemeanour Domestic Violence Into a Felony?
There are some additional ways that domestic violence can become a felony:
- Use of a weapon;
- If alcohol or drugs were involved;
- If the accused violated a restraining order;
- If a child or minor witnessed abusive conduct
Each case of domestic violence will be evaluated on its facts to determine which charges can be filed and whether those charges will be classified as a misdemeanour or a felony.
What are the Potential Penalties for Felony Domestic Violence?
The penalty an individual receives upon a domestic violence conviction will depend on which state they are in, what charges they have been convicted of, and the specific circumstances of their case.
Each state will have its own range of potential:
- Jail sentences;
- Probation periods;
- Court-mandated rehabilitation courses;
- Sentencing enhancements (things that make the sentence more severe)
The consequences of a domestic violence conviction can also extend past the criminal justice system. It is possible that a conviction for domestic violence could result in loss of child custody or visitation rights, inability to get a job or a house, and loss of gun ownership.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer
If you have been charged with any domestic violence offence, it is important that you speak with a domestic assault lawyer as soon as possible. They will be able to assist you in understanding the nature of your charges and the potential consequences. They will be able to help you with crafting a strong defence and, in some cases, work with the prosecutor to have the charges reduced or dropped entirely.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in Canada, the team at Pyzer Criminal Lawyers is skilled at navigating these types of charges. They will be able to help you determine all your options and achieve the best possible result. For a free evaluation of your case, call 416-658-1818 or visit our website at https://www.torontodefencelawyers.com/.