What Should I Do If I Am Afraid of Being Charged With Spousal Assault, Threatening or Harassment?

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your marriage or common law relationship has broken down, it is important for you to know your family law rights and contact a family law solicitor immediately.

Relationship breakdowns carry immense stresses and these pressures can result in confrontations between you and your spouse or partner. In these circumstances, it may become necessary to not only be aware of your family law rights but also your criminal legal rights. Your family law lawyer is your best source to find a criminal law lawyer.

Unfortunately, people say and do things in the heat of the moment. These words and/or actions can be interpreted by the other person as threats, harassment or even assault.

This article will provide you with some helpful information, should you find yourself in a situation that could lead your spouse or partner to call the police and provide a statement against you. Please be aware, however, that this article is only meant to give general information and if you are charged with domestic assault, threats, harassment or any criminal offence, it is of crucial importance that you speak with a family law lawyer and a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.

  • If possible, you should attempt to leave your residence BEFORE tempers start to rise and BEFORE things are said or done that might be regretted later.
  • It is important to know that if someone feels that they are being criminally threatened or harassed and they report this to the police, the police may have grounds to lay a charge against you. This does not mean you are guilty.
  • If domestic related charges are laid against you, there is a strong probability that you will be taken into custody and held overnight to await a bail hearing the next day. This is true whether or not you have a criminal record or whether you are guilty or innocent.
  • If you are told by the police that you are being charged with a criminal offence, it is extremely important that you DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS OR PROVIDE ANY INFORMATION ABOUT THE INCIDENT THAT LED TO YOUR CHARGES. It may be trite but like they say in Law and Order, "anything you say, can and will be used against you."
  • If you are told that you are charged, you should politely decline to answer any questions (except your name, address, telephone number) and ask to speak with a lawyer immediately. You should call a criminal lawyer who you know. You have an absolute right to speak with a lawyer. If you don't have a particular criminal lawyer's phone number memorized, you still have an absolute right to speak with a legal aid lawyer, otherwise known as Duty Counsel. You should never decline the opportunity to speak with Duty Counsel. YOU MUST ALSO NOTIFY A FAMILY LAW LAWYER DURING THE DAY SUCH AS MR. DYMENT WHO CAN BE REACHED AT 416-861-0087 DURING OFFICE HOURS BUT A VOICEMAIL AT ANY TIME WOULD BE SUFFICIENT.
  • If you are charged, you will likely be held in custody and will be brought before a bail court, before a Justice of the Peace, the next day.
  • Getting released from custody will depend on a variety of factors. Before releasing you, a Justice of the Peace has to feel certain that you:
  • Will show up for any future court dates;
  • Will comply with any condition imposed upon you by the Court;
  • Are not at risk to commit further offences while out on bail.
  • Your chances of being released with the consent of the Crown and therefore without the need for a contested bail hearing, are greatly increased if you can address the following issues:
  • An alternative residence - it is practically a guarantee that you will not be allowed to reside at the same residence as your spouse/partner.
  • A strong surety who is able to supervise you to ensure that you will comply with any court imposed conditions. The most standard conditions courts tend to impose in domestic related criminal charges are: not to communicate with your spouse/partner and not to be near the place where your spouse/partner resides and/or works.
  • Your surety cannot have a criminal record and ideally, should be a Canadian citizen and someone with strong ties to the community.
  • Examples of a strong surety would be a relative or close friend who has known you for some time, has stable employment and owns his/her own home or has provable savings, and has no criminal record.
  • Your proposed surety will effectively act as the "eyes and ears" of the Court and the Court must feel comfortable that your surety will make sure you:
  • appear for court;
  • keep the peace and be of good behaviour; and
  • abide by any conditions imposed on you by the court;
  • In order to approve your surety, the Court must feel comfortable that if you were to violate any of your conditions of release, your surety would call the police and revoke your bail.
  • A surety usually does not need to pay any money into the Court but she/he will need to bring to Court some proof that they have money in the bank or assets that they can pledge. Without knowing the details of your charges, it is impossible to know how much a Crown or the Court would want your surety to pledge, but the usual amount is somewhere in the range of $1000 - $5000, depending upon the allegations, your criminal record, if any, and your ties to the community.
  • Once you are released from custody, it is absolutely crucial that you follow your bail conditions. All too often it happens that people are charged with minor criminal offences and before those charges are resolved, the person on bail is charged with failing to comply with his/her bail conditions.
  • Failure to comply with a condition of bail can be a more serious offence than the charge that resulted in your bail in the first place.
  • If you have any questions about criminal charges or you have been charged with a criminal offence, you can get in touch with a reputable criminal defence lawyer by visiting www.Criminal-Lawyers.ca or by calling 416-585-9191.

Reviewed March 2015