One of the biggest and most common mistakes people make, when they are married, in a common law relationship, dating, or recently separated and are no longer together is filing a complaint of domestic assault against the other person as a means of “getting even.” Using the Justice System in this manner has serious consequences for the accused.
Many complainants (victims) claim they were assaulted by their loved one, with the notion they can request the charges be dropped later, after they have made their point or “gotten even.” However, the law does not regard the wishes of the complainant when it comes to investigating a claim of domestic assault and filing charges, if there is sufficient evidence to support the initial claim.
Even in cases where the complainant later states their desires to have the charges dropped, the Crown prosecuting lawyers do not take this into consideration. Rather, they are bound to uphold the legal system and laws related to assault offences. As such, if it has been determined there is sufficient evidence to charge the accused with domestic assault, they will be arrested and have to resolve the matter in court.
While the Criminal Code of Canada does not have a specific offence for domestic assault offences, the legal system does rely upon the definitions of Assault offences as contained within the Criminal Code. In addition, in many cases, there are Crown prosecuting lawyers, who exclusively prosecute domestic assault offences. The Crown and Courts recognize the seriousness of domestic assault and often treat those accused of this criminal offence with a zero-tolerance attitude.
Depending upon the type of domestic assault offence one is charged with, there is always the potential of being imprisoned if convicted and found guilty of the offence. For instance, a general domestic assault offence, prosecuted as an indictable offence has a maximum imprisonment period of five years, whereas if the case is prosecuted as a summary conviction, there is still a maximum eighteen month imprisonment period.
Additionally, just like Assault offences, there are variations of domestic assault offences, which includes, but may not be limited to, aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm, and assault with a weapon. The Crown and Courts view these as more serious types of domestic assault offences. Therefore, they do have more severe penalties and longer maximum imprisonment periods.