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Defend Assault Charges

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Our Experience

Assault offences are very common in Orangeville and across Canada. Assaults may occur in the context of different relationships and the relationship between the parties may influence how the offender is prosecuted and sentenced. A large portion of the assaults committed in Orangeville and throughout the country are domestic in nature. A domestic assault occurs when an individual in a domestic or intimate relationship assaults their partner. While the Criminal Code does not contain a separate offence for domestic assault, the way these assaults are prosecuted is unique.

Crown counsel across the country tend to prosecute domestic assaults more severely than assaults occurring in other relationships. Domestic abuse has been seen as a serious public safety concern to Canadians. In some cases, victims of abuse are fearful about going to police, or do go to police but are fearful to appear in court and testify against their abuser. As a result, Crowns are often unwilling to offer favourable plea deals in domestic abuse cases and will not agree to drop charges even where the complainant no longer wishes to continue.

In the 2016 case of R. v. P.T. [2016], the Firm represented an individual charged with assaulting his domestic partner after a night out together. In that case, the parties, a same-sex couple, got into a physical altercation and both sustained serious injuries as a result. In another similar case, the Firm secured the withdrawal of an assault with a weapon charge after one partner threatened the other with a knife during an altercation.

In 2022, the Firm represented an individual charged with assault with a weapon after striking her domestic partner while holding her cell phone in her hand in R. v. S.Y. [2022]. The accused and complainant had gotten into a heated discussion at the complainant’s place of employment regarding infidelity. Nearby witnesses contacted police alleging that the accused had struck her partner in the upper arm while holding her phone during. The Firm exploited various weaknesses in the evidence provided by the Crown including the witness statement and ultimately secured a withdrawal of the charge.

In the 2022 case of R. v. G.S. [2022], Donich Law represented an individual charged with one count of simple assault. The client was a daycare worker who was arrested after using too much force to redirect a young child, causing the child to lose balance and injure her face. The Crown sought a period of custody for the accused, citing the age and vulnerable nature of the complainant. To quell the Crown’s concerns, the Firm utilized a formal forensic risk assessment to prove that the client did not pose a risk to the community. The Firm ultimately resolved the case without a criminal record.

In the Firm’s 2023 case of R. v. J.S. [2023], the Firm successfully defended an individual accused of assaulting and choking his intimate partner. The incident was reported to law enforcement after an individual waiting for a bus witnessed the couple getting into a heated exchange. When police arrived on scene, the accused was arrested despite lack of cooperation from the complainant. Donich Law engaged in just under two years of Crown negotiations prior to securing the withdrawal of all charges.

Jail Sentences for Assault Charges in Canada

Donich Law - Assault Punishments

Though Orangeville is considered one of the safest cities in Canada, it is not immune to crime. Assaults are common in Orangeville as well as across Ontario. An individual may be charged with an assault for making physical contact of any kind with another person without consent. If injuries are caused as a result of the assault, the offender may be charged with aggravated assault or assault causing bodily harm. If a weapon was used in the commission of the assault the offender may be charged with assault with a weapon. Finally, if the offender chokes another person, they may be charged with assault – choking. A conviction for assault can remain on an individual’s criminal record forever. It is important in any legal circumstances to retain a lawyer and know your rights.

In 2019, the Firm successfully represented a client charged with assault causing bodily harm after punching a stranger in the face and fracturing his jaw in R. v. S.G. [2019]. The accused and complainant had gotten into a verbal altercation while out a public event space. It was alleged that the accused sucker punched the complainant. The Firm uncovered video surveillance footage of the incident proving that the complainant had provoked the accused prior to the punch being thrown. The Firm leveraged this video evidence to resolve the matter without a criminal record for the accused, despite the injuries to the complainant.

How to Defend Assault Charges

In 2021, the Firm defended an individual alleged to have pushed and threatened his domestic partner with a knife during a heated argument in R. v. J.D. [2021]. The complainant alleged that the pair had been arguing throughout the day when she asked her partner to leave her apartment. She further alleged that he refused and then threatened her when she pushed the issue. The Firm was able to lift the no contact order between the accused and complainant before the case resolved, and ultimately secured a withdrawal.

In 2021, the Firm represented a client charged with assault – choking after allegedly choking his intimate partner during an argument in R. v. A.M. [2021]. Choking during an assault is seen as an aggravating factor due to the risk of causing serious injury or death to the victim. As a result, choking charges are prosecuted more severely and are more difficult to defend. The Firm engaged in close to a year of pre-trial discussions with the Crown before resolving the matter by way of a peace bond and withdrawal of the charge.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What If I Have Been Falsely Accused in Orangeville?

Unfortunately, a false accusation is still a charge that must be proven false. Under a false accusation, the accused still must go through the criminal court process. The police may lay an assault charge with just the complainant’s word. Physical evidence in assault cases is rare, and it is rarer to have smoking gun evidence that results in an immediate conviction. When falsely accused, the first opportunity to present evidence is a Crown Pre-Trial.

If there is no evidence at all, a trial must be undertaken to argue that the allegations are fabricated. The complainant must testify on the stand, and the defense will cross-examine the complainant. When looking at testimony, the court determines whether it is credible and reliable. This was established in R. v. W (D), [1991] 1 S.C.R. 742. This case determined the factors for acquitting a defendant based on the evidence. The Crown must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning that the onus is on them to prove the crime happened. If the Crown cannot prove anything happened, then an acquittal is entered.

Will I Be Held for Bail if I Am Charged with Domestic Assault?

Being held for bail is a process that depends heavily upon the police. A release from the station along with the promise to appear for a hearing may sometimes be sufficient. However, the more serious the charges, the more likely the accused will be held for bail. A history of a criminal record also increases the likelihood the accused will be held for bail.

The accused is always presumed to be innocent, and the right to bail is guaranteed in the Charter. Whether or not you are held for bail will be on a case-by-case basis. In the leading case of R v. Antic, [2017] 1 S.C.R. 509, the Court was concerned with the defendant’s flight risk, as he did not reside in Canada. Several plans the defendant offered for bail was rejected before a bail judge found that denying Antic reasonable bail violated his section 11(e) rights. The terms of bail release imposed under s. 515(4) of the Criminal Code must be strictly necessary. This meant that the Court cannot impose unreasonable requirements for bail, such as unreasonable cash deposits or surety guarantees.

What Happens in a Bail Hearing for Domestic Assault?

When charged with domestic assault, the Court will determine proper bail conditions for the accused. Once the matter gets called, the Crown will indicate whether they will release on consent or whether it is contested. Release on consent is a release that is negotiated and agreed upon with the accused and defence lawyer prior to attending court. However, if the bail hearing is contested, the Crown will make submissions on what they believe the release plan should be and the defence lawyer will do the same. The judge will then determine the release plan that is most appropriate. In some cases the Crown will argue that the accused should be detained pending trial. The more violent the crime, the more insistent the Crown will be on contesting the matter.

Do Good Character Letters Help on Sentencing?

Good character letters are letters written for the defendant by the people in their lives to provide a fuller picture of them as a person. The judge does read and consider good character letters, but it has minimal effects on sentencing. Often during the criminal process, a defendant is dehumanized and stigmatized due to the charge of the crime. Good character letters help in providing context to the alleged crime, assisting the judge in determining an appropriate sentence that is optimal to the defendant and society.

It is important when writing a character letter to not argue for the defendant. The judge is not looking for arguments in a good character letter, but for a more holistic picture of the defendant. Sentencing often considers factors important for rehabilitation and reintegration into the community. A good character letter can be an example of the defendant’s involvement in their community and contribute marginally to sentencing.

I Did Not Actually Touch My Partner but Was Still Charged with Domestic Assault

Using a threatening gesture can constitute an assault under the Code. Section 264 of the Criminal Code is very strict on what is defined as assault. The wording of the Code qualifies that any act or gesture that threatens to apply force to another person without their consent constitutes an assault. The threats or physical action must leads to a reasonable apprehension of fear that an assault will occur to be considered an assault.

Assault is a crime against a person, and often includes a victim. In assault cases, there is often little to no evidence other than statements. A victim’s statement, however, is enough to convict the accused given the Court ruled it to be credible and reliable. When charged with assault, it is important to keep all evidence and hire a lawyer.

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Recent Cases

R. v. Riopelle, 2023 ONCJ 151

A one-time assault charge can have criminal consequences. In the Ontario Court of Justice case of R. v. Riopelle, the defendant was charged with assault causing bodily harm after knocking out his elderly uncle’s teeth without provocation. Inheritance regarding the Glenalee Mobile Home and Campground soured their familial relationship. While cutting the grass for a renter, the uncle was assaulted by Mr. Riopelle for parking his car on someone else’s property.

When deciding on a sentence, the Court considered the defendant’s pre-sentence report. Mr. Riopelle was an employed, engaged member of the community who had no problems with his mental health. The assault was deemed out of character. Mr. Bandy, the defendant’s uncle, provided a victim impact statement which highlighted the anxiety he suffered as a result of the assault. As outlined in section 718 of the Criminal Code,  the Court considered several principles of sentencing which included but was not limited to: denunciation, deterrence, rehabilitation and protection of the community. The Court judged that Mr. Riopelle posed little threat to the community, the defendant was sentenced to an eight month conditional sentence, three years’ probation, restitution, a weapons prohibition, and a DNA order.

R. v. Epure, 2019 ONSC 772

Assault cases are often very chaotic with facts that are hard to determine. In the Superior Court of Justice case of R. v. Epure, Mr. Epure was charged with assault causing bodily harm and assault. An altercation happened at the Guelph Transit platform at the University of Guelph between a group of young people. Brett Nicholson, the complainant, was unconscious on the ground and his girlfriend, Rachel Figueira, was struck by a third party. After exchanging a few words, Figuiera struck Epure, who responded with violence. The appellant’s friends assaulted Nicholson, and Nicholson suffered heavy injuries.

To determine the optimal sentence, the Court considered a series of aggravating and mitigating factors. The extent of the victim’s injuries, the unconsciousness of the victim after the appellant joined the fight, and the group nature of the conflict were all aggravating factors that contribute negatively to the sentence. However, the appellant was remorseful, and this was his first offence. The appellant was sentenced to a conditional discharge, along with the ancillary orders of a DNA order and a s. 110 weapons prohibition for five years.

About the Author

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Jordan Donich

Jordan Donich has been a Lawyer for over 10 years and is a trusted legal analyst by Canadian Media. He is as a leader in Canada’s tech sector for lawyers and developer of Law Newbie. Jordan is a Black Belt with the Japan Karate Association and trained in Krav Maga. He won a Gold Medal at 2004 Canadian National Championships and was published in the National Newspaper Awards.

Jordan has been featured in Forbes and is a member of DMZ Angels in Toronto.