HOW TO DROP ASSAULT CHARGES
Whether or not it is possible to have an assault charge dropped will depend on a number of factors. The severity of the alleged offence will play a large role in the Crown’s decision to drop an assault charge. Where the allegations are serious, the Crown will be far less likely to withdrawal the charges. The background of the accused will also play a large role. Crowns will be far less likely to withdrawal a charge against an accused who has a criminal history, particularly a violent criminal history.
As with any criminal offence, the best defence to an assault charge will depend largely on the facts of the case and the circumstances and background of the accused and complainant. Similarly, the options available for having an assault charge dropped will depend largely on the facts of the case and the background of the accused.
When determining whether or not to prosecute an assault case, the Crown must consider two questions; whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and whether there is a public interest in prosecuting the individual. The first question concerns whether or not there is enough evidence available to the Crown to present to the Court for the Court to find the defendant guilty. The second question is concerned with whether there is a public interest in punishing the defendant for their conduct. If the answer to either of these questions is yes, the Crown will generally proceed with prosecuting the individual.
In cases involving assault charges, a Crown is more likely to withdrawal the charge where the complainant is uncooperative with the investigation and where there is no other evidence available to prosecute the individual. In many cases involving assault, there are no third party witnesses to the assault, and thus it becomes a he-said-she-said situation. If the complainant is unwilling to cooperate with the Crown, there will be little to no evidence to present to the Court and thus the Crown may agree to withdrawal the charges at an early stage.
Whether or not there is a public interest in prosecuting the individual will depend largely on the severity of the alleged assault. The term assault is a broad definition for a wide array of behaviours, from lightly touching another individual without their consent to violently striking another individual. Due to the wide spectrum of possible assaults, whether or not the Crown feels there is a public interest in prosecuting an assault charge will vary significantly from case to case. For example, a Crown is far less likely to determine there to be a public interest in prosecuting an individual who lightly swatted another individual’s arm. On the other hand, the Crown is very likely to determine there to be a high public interest in prosecuting an individual who brutally assaulted another individual.
If the Crown is unwilling to drop the charges early on in the proceedings, the case will be required to go to trial. It is important to have experienced legal counsel. Our Firm has experience defending assault charges at trial and have received favourable outcomes for our clients.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get a Peace Bond for my Assault Charge?
How to get Domestic Assault Charges Dropped?
Can I get an Absolute or Conditional Discharge for my Assault Charge?
Assaulting a Peace Officer
Sexual Assault Law in Canada
Consequences of a Criminal Record
Keeping Charges Private
Travel & US Waivers
Vulnerable Sector Screening
Elements of a Crime
Can I get a Peace Bond for my Assault Charge?
A peace bond is essentially an agreement entered into between an accused person and the Court, where the accused person promises to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, and abide by any other conditions prescribed by the Court for a period of time as prescribed by the Court.
Crowns will sometimes offer a peace bond in cases involving minor assaults, where it would not be in the interest of justice to give the accused a criminal record. In these cases, the Crown will withdrawal the charge in exchange for the accused entering into a peace bond. The peace bond will require the accused to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and abide by any other conditions imposed by the Court. The bond will have a dollar amount associated with it, which the accused will be required to pay to the Court should they violate any of the conditions. Once signed, the peace bond will remain in place for a maximum of twelve months.
If the accused were to violate any of the conditions of their peace bond while it is still in effect, they may be charged with an additional breach offence as well as be required to pay to the Court the dollar amount associated with the bond. It is important to note that a peace bond is not a criminal finding of guilt.
How to get Domestic Assault Charges Dropped
Many people have the misconception that if the alleged victim recants their statement or tells the police they no longer wish to proceed with the case, the police will withdrawal the charges. In Canada, this is not the case. Due to the serious nature of domestic abuse it is prosecuted vigorously in Ontario. The police will charge an individual with domestic assault regardless of whether the alleged victim wants the individual to be charged. Similarly, once an individual has been charged with domestic assault, the Crown will not withdrawal the charge at the request of the complainant. In some cases, where the complainant refuses to cooperate or testify in Court, the Crown may even be able to use previous statements made by the complainant to police to prosecute the individual.
Domestic assault charges are generally prosecuted quite forcefully by the Courts in Ontario. As a result, the Crown will often be reluctant to drop such a charge. Since domestic assault is not a separate offence from simple assault, the fact that the assault occurred in an intimate relationship will generally be seen as an aggravating factor, making Crown’s reluctant to withdrawal a charge due to lack of public interest in prosecuting the individual. Domestic violence is seen a serious social problem in our society and that is reflected in the way our Courts handle domestic assaults.
Can I get an Absolute or Conditional Discharge for my Assault Offence?
In some cases, yes. Being granted an absolute or conditional discharge for an assault offence is possible in cases involving more minor allegations and where the offender does how have a history of criminal behaviour.
An absolute discharge is the lowest sentence an individual can be given. When an individual is given an absolute discharge, it means that the Court has made a finding of guilt against the accused but is choosing not to give the accused a criminal record. The accused will be required to plead guilty to the offence, but no conviction will be registered. An individual may be given an absolute discharge where the Court feels as though it would not be in the interests of justice to give the accused a criminal record.
For an assault charge, it is possible for an individual to be granted an absolute discharge in certain circumstances. Generally, an absolute discharge will only be available where the accused is a first-time offender, where the allegations were minor and where giving the accused a criminal record would not be in the interests of justice. An individual who is granted an absolute discharge for an assault charge in Kitchener will be free to go about their lives with no restriction.
A conditional discharge allows an accused to walk away from a criminal case without a criminal record after completing a period of probation. Upon pleading guilty, an accused may be granted a conditional discharge in certain circumstances. The accused will be ordered to abide by certain conditions as prescribed by the Court for a period as prescribed by the Court. Once the probationary period has expired, the charge(s) against the accused will be discharged, leaving the accused with a clean criminal record. If the accused fails to abide by the conditions of the discharge, the discharge may be revoked. The charge(s) will return and be registered as a conviction against the accused.
An individual who pleads guilty to an assault charge may be granted a conditional discharge in certain circumstances. In situations where the nature and severity of the allegations were minor and the accused does not have a history of criminal behaviour, the Crown may agree to advocate for a conditional discharge.