Domestic assault charges are some of the most prevalent offences that take place in Alberta courts. Assertions of domestic violence can be found in all kinds of relationships. As such, these allegations are taken very seriously, and many individuals find themselves in a courtroom for the first time due to a domestic violence allegation.
However, you may be wondering what the process is, and what typically happens in these sorts of situations. Keep reading to find out.
How Do Police Respond to a Call of Domestic Violence?
Typically, police have a very short supply of sensitivity when determining whether or not to press charges. In fact, contrary to the United States, police will often charge the accused even when the complainant does not wish to have charges laid. Should the police be contacted regarding a domestic incident where the caller indicates that a criminal offence has been committed, a charge will result despite the complainant’s wishes. And from there, it is then in the hands of the Crown prosecutor to determine if the charges will proceed in the courtroom. It’s during this phase of proceedings that the wishes of the complainant will be taken into consideration. Depending upon the severity of the charge, the Crown will often proceed with the prosecution when the complainant does not wish this to happen.
What Happens Once You’re Arrested for Domestic Assault?
If you are arrested and the police proceed to press charges, there are two options available to them:
1. The police will release you on the condition that you sign a piece of paper known as a “Promise to Appear,” where you promise to appear in court on an agreed-upon, later date, or….
2. The police will hold you for a bail hearing in the presence of a judge or a JP (justice of the peace).
If you are released by agreeing to the Promise to Appear, the police might also ask that you sign an “Undertaking to an Officer” as a trade-off for your release without a bail hearing. If you sign an Undertaking, it thrusts a legally binding situation on you. For instance, the Undertaking may forbid you from returning to your home, or forbid you from drinking alcohol.
When is the “No-Contact” Clause Employed And How it is Removed?
If an allegation is made of one relative committing an offence on another, a “no-contact” clause will be served against the offending party. These orders typically restrict the accused from any contact or form of communication – either directly or indirectly – with some of their relatives.
Additionally, there is usually a stipulation that says the offending individual cannot return to the premises where the assault took place. The one exception to this rule would be when the accused returns to the home – escorted by an officer – to pick up their belongings.
Violating the “no-contact” provision is a criminal offence. And if the police are made aware of such a circumstance, an arrest will immediately be in order.
A “no-contact” provision has the capacity to completely uproot a person’s life. As a result, a primary question that is often asked is: can a no-contact clause be removed or changed?
In short, yes. You can ask a court to change or remove the order altogether. This process usually takes time, however. Even under promising circumstances, it could take as long as a few weeks. Amending the no-contact order is always a priority for our office. It is the first thing we seek to achieve once being retained.
What Happens After I’m Charged With Domestic Violence in Court?
On your first day of court, the judge will ask you if you will plead guilty or not guilty, or require additional time to assess the case and talk to your attorney. The majority of the accused require more time and aren’t ready to plunge into a plea on the first appearance in court. If more time is needed, the case is typically adjourned in a few weeks to provide the individual with the time needed to ponder their position.
During the trial, the prosecutor will try to show that the accused did indeed commit the offence. The prosecutor will then first call forth witnesses to attempt to prove the offence. Typically, the complainant and investigating officers will be called upon as witnesses by the Crown. As a result, the lawyer for the accused will then have a chance to question the witnesses.
Once all the witnesses have been called upon by the Crown, the accused will then have a chance to call witnesses to attest. The accused can decide to testify but is not required to.
When the witnesses have been called from both sides, the judge will determine if the accused is guilty or not. If the judge believes the accused to be guilty, the lawyers will then inform the judge what sentence they believe the accused deserves. If the judge deems the accused not guilty, then the accused is set free. Moreover, a criminal record will not be imposed.
Going through the court system is a difficult and challenging experience. That’s why having someone to help guide and navigate you through it all is a necessity not just to secure your freedom, but also your peace of mind. That’s why our experienced team of criminal lawyers here at Batting, Wyman are so passionate about serving you.
We want to lead you out of this turbulent time of your life. For this reason, if you’ve been charged with domestic assault or any other offence, contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help you.