Domestic Assault



There isn’t a separate offence under the Criminal Code of Canada of “domestic assault.” That being said, the prosecutors and the courts classify any allegations of assault against a partner or a spouse as domestic assaults. These charges receive a different treatment and process than other kinds of assault, one that can make domestic assault charges some of the more frustrating to deal with for those accused of a criminal offence in Canada.

After being released from the police station or the bail court, those accused of a domestic assault charge are regularly given conditions to not contact or communicate with their spouse or partner, and sometimes even their children. These conditions can be in place for months on end while waiting for a trial.

Unfortunately, many Canadians have misconceptions about how our legal system works, gained from watching American television. Under Canadian law, the “complainant” in a domestic assault charge doesn’t have the ability to “drop the charges” themselves. In fact, the complainant loses control over these charges; once someone is accused of domestic assault only the prosecution has control over whether domestic assault charges proceed. In fact, the Ontario prosecutors’ practice manual dictates that even when a complainant on domestic assault charges wishes those charges to be dropped, the prosecution should “usually” push for the charges to go forward.

These factors combine together to serve as a weight in the system, compelling those accused of domestic assault charges to plead guilty as early as possible so as to reunite their families by having their conditions lifted. However if you are charged with domestic assault please do not not plead guilty to simply “get the matter over with as soon as possible”. You have rights in the Canadian legal system, and you should consult with an experienced domestic assault lawyer in Toronto before making any major decisions. Remember: a criminal record won’t only impact your future, but can have effects on your family’s future as well. You owe it to yourself and to them to be as informed as possible.

Graham Zoppi is a Toronto-based domestic assault lawyer who has represented his clients on hundreds of domestic assault charges. He has managed to convince the prosecution for the majority of these cases to withdraw the charges before ever having to go as far as a trial, saving his clients time, money and worry. For those matters that are forced to go to trial, Mr. Zoppi has proven himself a capable and relentless trial lawyer, engaging in thorough and tenacious cross-examination of complainants in domestic assault trials, usually winning acquittals for his clients.