First Offender Charged With Assault? 416-DEFENCE.

Donich Law often represents average citizens who have been charged criminally with domestic assault. Donich law has worked with a wide array of clients including those in finance, sales, public transportation, government, construction, students, retirees and medical professionals. We work to resolve your domestic assault issue as confidentially and efficiently as possible while obtaining the best possible outcomes for our clients. Charges of domestic abuse can arise in a variety of situations and almost all the Firm’s customers are first offenders.

Often, disputes between family members, cohabitants or spouses will escalate to the point that the authorities are called, either by one of the participants in the disagreement or by a third party (often a neighbour). Once the police are involved it is totally within their discretion whether to lay charges regardless of the opinion of the complainant. This can create a serious and unwanted situation within the family especially when the complainant no longer wishes to pursue charges. In many cases, conditions will be placed on the accused which often stipulate that the accused cannot have contact with or live with the complainant. These conditions can often remain in place for long periods of time creating further friction within the family unit.

In 2022, the Firm defended an accused charged with assault with a weapon, uttering death threats and assault in R. v. Y.W. [2022]. The individual was arrested and charged after allegedly threatening his partner with a kitchen knife and assaulting her during the breakdown of their relationship. The Firm provided evidence to the Crown to show that the accused had taken significant steps to address the issues leading to his offence. After months of Crown negotiations, the Firm secured a withdrawal of all charges.

In 2022, the Firm defended a client charged with assault with a weapon and assault after allegedly striking her ex-partner while holding a phone in R. v. S.Y. [2022]. Police attended the scene after another individual witnessed the incident and reported it. The Firm negotiated with the Crown to ultimately secure a withdrawal of both charges against the accused.

In 2021, the Firm represented an accused charged with one count of assault and one count of assault with a weapon in R. v. J.D. [2021]. The accused was arrested after an altercation with his girlfriend in which he shoved her while brandishing a knife. The Firm resolved the matter, getting the charges withdrawn.

In 2021, the Firm represented an individual charged with false information, indecent communications and criminal harassment in R. v. B.K. [2021]. The accused was alleged to have sent private messages over Instagram, using a fake account, to a mutual friend of his ex-partner, indicating that she wished to engage in particular sexual acts. The mutual friend contacted the complainant and showed her the message, resulting in law enforcement using IP address information to track down the sender. The Firm negotiated the matter for over a year, ultimately resolving the case without a criminal record for the accused.

In R v. A.M. [2021], the Firm defended an individual charged with assault, assault causing bodily harm and choking after an alleged altercation with his same-sex domestic partner. After roughly nine months of negotiations, the Firm was able to resolve the matter without a criminal record by way of peace bond. This was accomplished through affidavit evidence.

In 2021, the Firm successfully resolved a case for a client who was charged with assault and assault with a weapon in R. v. J.D. [2021]. The accused was alleged to have assaulted his domestic partner with a weapon during an argument. Once charges were laid, a no contact order was put in place prohibiting the accused from contacting the complainant. The complainant hired independent legal counsel to assist her in restoring contact. The complainant’s counsel and the Firm presented a united defence, ultimately leading to a withdrawal of the charges.

In 2021, the Firm successfully represented an accused charged with simple assault after allegedly assaulting his domestic partner in R. v. A.R. [2021]. The complainant alleged that while intoxicated, the accused became angry and struck her in the face and pulled her hair during an argument. The complainant hired legal counsel of her own to help vary the no contact order put in place by the court. External legal counsel worked with the Firm to present a united defence, ultimately resulting the charges being withdrawn at the request of the Crown.

In R. v. B.W. [2021], the Firm defended a client charged with 2 counts of assault, assault with a weapon, uttering death threats and forcible confinement. During trial, the Firm exposed material inconsistencies in the complainant’s allegations and the client was found not guilty of 4 out of 5 charges and granted a discharge.

In the Firm’s R. v. P.C. [2020], it secured a withdrawal of assault on a permanent resident after allegedly pulling a kitchen knife on his spouse in Brampton. The Firm was able to protect the accused’s license as an accountant and his immigration status. The Firm resolved two separate Domestic Assault allegations for second offenders on the same victim without a criminal record in its R. v. A.V. [2019] and R. v. M.R. [2019].

Donich Law has extensive experience in restoring communication between family members and spouses in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. In the Firm’s R. v. Y.E. [2017], it prevented a sexual assault charge from being laid against a prominent Toronto Realtor, and secured a withdrawal of domestic assault after proving the allegation was fabricated in a sex tape.  In February 2018, the Firm secured a withdrawal of five (5) Assault allegations, including four (4) Assault with a Weapon allegations against a 10 year old child, in its R. v. E.T. [2018].

In addition to domestic abuse charges, Donich Law also frequently handles criminal harassment charges between domestic partners. Criminal harassment generally involves the accused repeatedly contacting an individual despite that individuals request to be left alone. These situations often arise when there has been a breakdown of a relationship. For example, in 2016 our Firm secured a withdrawal of all charges in R. v A.C. after a Hollywood Actor was accused of criminal harassment after sending numerous emails and voicemails to an ex-partner. In the Firm’s R. v. W.V. [2017], it secured a withdrawal of Assault with a Weapon against a provincial healthcare employee charged with trowing an over-baked pizza at her boyfriend’s head, causing lacerations.

In January 2019 after a year of litigation, the Firm resolved an Assault Bodily Harm allegation without a criminal record, where the son of a CFO was accused of fracturing the jaw of the complainant in an altercation. This result was achieved after discovering exculpatory evidence on video surveillance in its R. v. S.G. [2019].  Additionally, Donich Law secured a full withdrawal of all charges in R v. R.K. [2014] involving the sexual assault of a Jehovah’s Witness.

In 2014, the Firm secured a full withdrawal of all charges in R v. E.T. which involved a financial services employee charged with domestic assault, as well as in R v. C.L where domestic abuse was alleged against an IROC regulated professional. The Firm also handles a significant number of high profile domestic abuse cases. In 2016, the Firm secured the withdrawal of an assault with a weapon charge in R v. P.S. after a women was accused of throwing items at her male spouses.

In addition to domestic abuse in heterosexual relationships, the Firm has also handled a variety of cases dealing with domestic abuse in same-sex relationships. In 2016 the Firm secured withdrawals of all charges relating to assault where both male partners in a same-sex relationship sustained serious injuries during a mutual fight. In R v. P.T. the Firm secured a withdrawal of an assault with a weapon charge after a dispute between same-sex partner’s caused one partner to pull a kitchen knife on the other partner.

In all of these cases the Firm was able to resolve the legal issue with no criminal record for the accused. We have extensive experience dealing with both common cases of domestic abuse and also high profile cases involving employees of the City of Toronto, large financial institutions, unions and a wide variety of other professionals.

Having a complete understanding of the Elements of the Criminal Offence, Your Rights and the Consequences associated with a Criminal Record is necessary before any legal decisions are made.

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Legal Information

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Domestic Assault?
What is the Difference Between Domestic Assault and Simple Assault?
What Types of Assaults are Commonly alleged in Domestic Abuse Cases?
Who can be Charged with Domestic Assault?
Do Domestic Abuse Charges vary in Same-Sex Couples?
Do you have to be Married to be Charged with Domestic Assault?
What Happens Upon Arrest for Domestic Assault?
What is a Promise to Appear?

Additional Resources

Assaulting a Peace Officer
Sexual Assault Law in Canada
Consequences of a Criminal Record
Domestic Abuse
First Offenders
Immigration Consequences
Keeping Charges Private
Travel & US Waivers
Vulnerable Sector Screening
Elements of a Crime
Your Rights

What is Domestic Assault?

The Criminal Code identifies domestic assault as an assault that occurs in the context of a romantic or familial relationship. The charge is laid out in section 265(1) of the Criminal Code under the category of assault as follows:

265 (1) A person commits an assault when

(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;

(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or

(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.


(2) This section applies to all forms of assault, including sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault.


(3) For the purposes of this section, no consent is obtained where the complainant submits or does not resist by reason of

(a) the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;

(b) threats or fear of the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;

(c) fraud; or

(d) the exercise of authority.

 Accused’s belief as to consent

(4) Where an accused alleges that he believed that the complainant consented to the conduct that is the subject-matter of the charge, a judge, if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and that, if believed by the jury, the evidence would constitute a defense, shall instruct the jury, when reviewing all the evidence relating to the determination of the honesty of the accused’s belief, to consider the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for that belief.

When the assault occurs in the context of a romantic of familial relationship it will be considered a domestic abuse charge rather than simple assault.

What is the Difference Between Domestic Assault and Simple Assault?

As outlined above, domestic assault is an assault that occurs within the context of an intimate relationship. Domestic assault is defined as a narrower version of simple assault. Simple assault will generally include a wide variety of assault situations that occur between individuals who cannot be said to be in an intimate relationship. This can include assaults occurring between friends, strangers, acquaintances or co-workers. Domestic assault on the other hand can only occur in situations where the relationship between the two parties can be categorized as one that is “intimate”. It is important to note that the charge of domestic assault will not appear on the accused’s criminal record. Instead, only a charge of assault will be referenced. Domestic abuse is not a separate charge on its own however it will generally be prosecuted differently than simple assault charges.

Generally domestic abuse charges will be handled more seriously by the courts than simple assault. Crown prosecutors prosecute domestic abuse cases with “vigor” and identify domestic abuse as a serious social issue. There is thought to be a significant public interest in bringing those accused of domestic abuse to justice due to the importance of a healthy family unit in our society. In some Canadian jurisdictions, domestic abuse charges will be dealt with by a special “Domestic Violence Courts” which are heard separately from other criminal matters. These Domestic Violence Courts are fairly common in Toronto and the GTA as domestic abuse charges are very common.

What Types of Assaults are Commonly alleged in Domestic Abuse Cases?

A domestic assault allegation can include any assault related offence listed in the Criminal Code. Common types of domestic assault charges include: simple assault, assault causing bodily injury or assault with a weapon. Simple assault refers to cases where the accused has physically hit or touched the alleged victim but where no weapon was used and minimal injury resulted. Assault causing bodily injury will include cases where the victim sustained more serious or long lasting injuries. The injuries do not have to be severe, rather the victim simply has to demonstrate that they were physically injured in some way (a bruise, cut or scratch) and that the injury caused them some sort of distress or pain which was not minute or fleeting in nature. Finally, assault with a weapon is a common domestic assault charge and can arise in a variety of situations. The weapon used in the assault does not have to be a weapon by every day standards such as a gun or a knife. For example, the Firm has handled cases of domestic assault with a weapon where a spouse threw keys, a TV remote, makeup, a handbag or even a scarf at their partner.

Who can be Charged with Domestic Assault?

As with most criminal charges, anyone and everyone can be charged with domestic assault. The Firm has dealt with a wide variety of clients who have been charged with domestic assault, from blue collar workers to highly-educated professionals. Many individuals do not have a prior criminal record and may face domestic assault as their first criminal charge. Regardless of the factors associated with the accused, our Firm is dedicated to providing the most effective and efficient outcome in your case.

Do Domestic Abuse Charges vary in Same-Sex Couples?

No. Domestic abuse charges can and are laid against same-sex couples in the same way they are laid against opposite sex couples. “Intimate relationships” for the purposes of domestic abuse charges includes both homosexual and heterosexual relationships.

Do you have to be Married to be Charged with Domestic Assault?

No. There is no requirement that an individual be legally married to the victim for the Crown to obtain a domestic assault conviction. Rather, the relationship simply must be one that can be categorized as “intimate”. This could include married couples, common law relationships, those who are dating and those who have previously dated. This list is not exhaustive and the duration and legal formality of the relationship can differ between cases.

What Happens Upon Arrest for Domestic Assault?

As with the majority of crimes, once a defendant has been arrested for domestic assault they will be taken into police custody and booked into the system. The police will record their personal information as well as information about their alleged crime into the police data base. Formal charges will be entered against the accused and it will be determined whether the accused will be released from police custody pending trial. In most cases the accused will be released. Generally, the accused will only be held in police custody until the trial if they have been deemed a flight risk or if they are deemed to be a danger to the public should they be released. If it is determined that the accused can be released back into society with little to no issue, they will usually be released on a promise to appear. If, however the accused is held on bail they will be required to attend a bail hearing where a judge will make the determination whether they will be released.

What is a Promise to Appear?

In situations where an individual has been arrested on domestic assault charges and taken into custody, but the police find no compelling reason to delay release from custody, the accused will be issued a Promise to Appear and released. The Promise to Appear is a document that the accused will be required to sign prior to release stating that the accused will appear in court on a specific time and date. Failure to appear in court on this date can lead to a warrant being issued for the accused’s arrest. A promise to Appear will only be offered in cases where the police find it unnecessary to hold the accused for a bail hearing. Promise to Appear is less common in domestic assault cases, where a bail hearing will be requiring the majority of the time.

Quick Facts

Can I Contact my Spouse or Partner?

If you are charged with domestic assault, the police or court will generally have a condition on your release which prevents you from contacting your partner, who is often the complainant. It is important to speak to a lawyer before deciding to contact anyone related to the allegations to avoid further criminal charges.

Can I Change my Bail to Contact my Spouse?

In certain circumstances a bail variation can be brought which would enable the accused to resume contact with his or her spouse during the criminal proceedings. An application would have to be brought before the court to approve a variation to the initial terms of release.

Can my Partner Drop the Charges?

As a general rule, the spouse who called the police does not have discretion over whether the case is prosecuted. The victim cannot simply change their mind and tell the police not to charge their spouse anymore. This is often surprising, especially to new Canadians who are unfamiliar with the justice system.

What is Domestic Assault in Canada?

Domestic assault is very similar to what people often describe as common assault. Basically, it's an assault on a spouse or person where there is a romantic relationship between the parties. Typically where there is an assault on a partner, the courts have zero tolerance for abuse and prosecute domestic assaults more aggressively than other offences.

Can Domestic Assault Charges be Dropped?

In some cases a resolution can be achieved to resolve allegations of domestic assault without a criminal record. This will depend on a number of factors including whether there were injuries, the circumstances of the offender and the input of the complainant. However, what may be right for one person could be different for another, especially where the offender is not a Canadian Citizen or subject to Vulnerable Sector Checks.

How to get off a Domestic Assault Charge?

There are a number of factors which will determine the direction of domestic assault proceedings. The Crown will be required to produce evidence to the accused, which will include a victim statement, a 911 recording and sometimes a video statement of the complainant. In many cases that evidence can be challenged in court or used in negotiations with the Crown to resolve the proceedings favorably.

Can I see my Kids?

If you are charged with domestic assault, it is important to get legal advice early about child access. In many cases, domestic assault allegations can trigger divorce proceedings where the criminal proceedings can be brought into family court. Unfortunately, if the accused is found guilty, that can ultimately make it harder to achieve favorable custody terms.

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