Assault & Other Violent Crimes
The Criminal Code defines Assault as a crime of violence involving the intentional application of force without consent to another person. The crime of assault can also include an attempt or threat to apply force to another person.
Domestic violence goes by many names, including domestic abuse, spousal abuse, and family violence. The forms of domestic violence can include everything from physical aggression to threats and stalking. A domestic violence situation usually ends with the victim or a third party calling the police. The police show up and will usually interview the victim separately from the accused. Given that there is a zero tolerance policy for domestic violence in the Province of Nova Scotia, the police will almost invariably lay a criminal charge against one of the parties or sometimes against both of the parties.
If you are being investigated for a charge of domestic assault you should not give a statement to the police unless you have consulted with an experienced criminal defence lawyer beforehand. If you are arrested for a charge of domestic assault you will usually be released by the police on an undertaking to have no contact with the victim and not to return to the victim’s home which, in many cases, is your home also. While you will be under a lot of pressure to have such conditions changed by the court, you should only make such an application with the assistance of an experienced criminal defence lawyer. An application to vary a release condition will usually give the Crown Attorney an opportunity to place the victim on the witness stand and have her confirm under oath various details of the incident which led to the laying of charges. This may result in making the criminal charge against you more difficult to resolve because of her sworn testimony in court.
The punishment for a charge of domestic assault ranges from a period of probation which is usually accompanied by a condition to undergo counselling for anger management, to a period of time in jail. If the victim has sustained injuries as a result of the assault, or if a weapon was used during the assault, or if a weapon was used during the assault, the court will likely impose a term of imprisonment followed by a period of probation.
When it comes to sentencing in domestic assault cases, an experienced criminal defence lawyer will frequently argue for a conditional discharge for his client so that the client does not end up with a criminal record. A conditional discharge is usually accompanied by a period of probation with conditions such as participating in counselling for anger management or alcohol or drug abuse if that was a factor in the assault.
Experienced defence lawyers realize that a criminal record may be a serious problem for an accused in attempting to obtain or keep a job and support his family.