Edmonton Domestic Violence Lawyers Serving Alberta and Western Canada
Domestic assault charges are among the most common charges to come before Alberta courts.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, an assault may occur if one person uses intentional force against another person, without consent.
The terms “domestic violence” and “family violence” typically refer to when one family member has committed an assault against another family member. Whether the allegation refers to assault between spouses, a parent and child, or any other family or domestic relationship, the charge will be handled similarly by police and prosecutors.
The consequences of a domestic assault conviction can be quite severe. In addition to potential jail time and fines, a domestic assault conviction can prevent you from having contact with the alleged victim.
You may even be barred from returning to the residence where the alleged assault took place and prohibited from seeing your children. Many clients understandably fear permanent damage to their life and their reputation.
For many people, this may be their first experience with the criminal justice system. We understand your concerns and will thoroughly investigate your case to determine how to proceed while ensuring that you fully understand your rights and options throughout the entire process.
If you have been charged with any type of crime in Alberta, it is critical to consult with an experienced defence lawyer immediately.
At Chadi & Company, our experienced Alberta domestic violence lawyers have successfully defended countless clients against these charges across Alberta, including Northern Alberta and Edmonton.
How is domestic violence defined in Alberta Law?
Domestic violence occurs when one household member seeks to control or dominate another. It takes many forms, including grandparent abuse, pet cruelty, child exploitation, and sibling abuse.
According to the Alberta Government website, “Family violence is a broad term that includes domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child abuse, neglect and sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse,elder abuse and neglect, and witnessing the abuse of others in the family.”
Domestic violence has many types of victims, including:
- Married partners
- Separated or divorced partners
- Common-law and dating
- Parents who live separately
- Pregnant women
- Grandparents and another extended family
- Individuals with guardians, trustees or caregivers
- Birth, adopted, step- and foster children
Further, there are many different types of domestic violence, such as:
- Physical abuse — Your partner or another member of your domicile accuses you of physically kicking, punching, slapping, or any unwanted physical contact.
- Verbal abuse — Swearing and name-calling are forms of verbal abuse.
- Emotional or psychological abuse — Emotional abuse can be harder to detect or explain. However, when one domestic member uses manipulation, emotions, or threats to control another, they may be guilty of psychological abuse.
- Financial abuse — One of the most common types of domestic violence involves financial abuse, especially when one domestic partner or member is the primary breadwinner in a household. Examples include limiting access to funds, restricting the employment of other household members, running up debts, and destroying personal property.
- Neglect — Neglect is the failure to ensure a child or loved one has adequate emotional support and that their basic needs are taken care of.
- Sexual abuse — Saying or yelling degrading things is a form of sexual abuse. Other forms include refusing to use birth control, purposely infecting a partner with a transmissible disease, and forcing sexual contact without consent.
- Spiritual abuse — If a family member or household member insults or degrades your religious beliefs, they may be guilty of spiritual abuse.
These are some of the most common examples of domestic violence. If you are charged with domestic violence in Alberta, seek guidance from an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
Been Charged with Domestic Violence in Alberta?
If you have been charged with domestic assault, it is absolutely crucial to consult with an experienced lawyer before speaking with the police.
Once an allegation of domestic abuse has been made, police have little discretion over whether to charge the alleged abuser. The accused person is typically arrested, and charges are often pursued even when the family member who alleged the assault wishes to withdraw them.
When someone is arrested for domestic assault, the police can release the person in exchange for a promise to appear at a later court date, or they can hold them for a bail hearing. If released, the person may be prohibited from returning to the residence where the incident occurred or from contacting anyone involved.
We understand the disruption that these no-contact conditions can cause and have successfully petitioned the court to change them. If you have been arrested for domestic assault and are awaiting a bail hearing, contact a domestic violence lawyer immediately.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Alberta
There is no specific charge for “domestic violence” or “domestic assault” in Canada’s Criminal Code. It is up to the prosecutor to prove the domestic nature of an assault, which becomes an aggravating factor in sentencing.
Canadian courts take domestic violence very seriously, and the penalty for a domestic assault is generally more severe than for a non-domestic assault.
As with any crime, the penalties for a domestic violence offence vary greatly based on the specific facts of the case and can range from fines and/or probation to significant jail sentences.
Examples of common domestic assault charges and their corresponding penalties include:
- An assault charge may result in up to five years of imprisonment;
- Assault with a weapon or imitation weapon may result in up to 10 years of imprisonment;
- Aggravated assault, where the complainant is wounded, maimed, disfigured or whose life is endangered may result in up to 14 years of imprisonment;
Less serious charges can still result in extensive jail time. An experienced family violence lawyer can be the difference between a peace bond and years behind bars.
How Long is the Sentence for Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a serious offence that can have far-reaching consequences on your life. You could face jail time, fines, weapons prohibitions and a restraining order. Even a mere accusation of domestic violence can be enough to tarnish your personal or professional reputation.
Typically, domestic violence offences are penalized more harshly than normal assault cases. This is because of the special relationship between the victim and the alleged offender and because the domestic setting may be the victim’s home. If you are charged with a domestic assault in Alberta, you could face up to five years in jail.
If the assault is minor and it is your first offence, there is a possibility that the prosecutor may agree to resolve your matter by way of Peace Bond. In Canadian criminal law, there are two types of Peace Bonds – governed by section 810 of the Criminal Code or by operation of Common Law. A Peace Bond is essentially an agreement that you will keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a certain amount of time and comply with any conditions imposed by the court. Conditions of a Peace Bond sometimes include the following: to have no contact with the victim, not to attend at the victim’s address, place of employment or work, to complete counselling and not to possess weapons or firearms. In exchange for your agreement to enter into a Peace Bond, the prosecution will withdraw the criminal charges against you. However, a Peace Bond ultimately depends on the prosecutor’s discretion overseeing the case. Therefore, it is incredibly important that you retain an experienced domestic violence lawyer to defend you.
In more serious situations, your lawyer may be able to argue that you are subject to extremely strict conditions instead of serving jail time. However, since the court generally views domestic assault crimes as especially aggravating, it is rare for an offender to receive any penalty other than jail time and a criminal record. Thus, you must retain the service of a lawyer experienced in representing domestic assault defendants.
What should you do if you suspect someone to be the victim of domestic violence?
If you believe someone is the victim of domestic violence, urge them to contact the local authorities. At the very least, you should recommend that they contact a lawyer. An experienced lawyer can review their case and help the victim understand the legal options available. The Alberta Government website has a full list of resources for domestic violence victims, including a 24/7 hotline.
Contact Chadi & Company Today
If you are facing domestic violence charges, the skilled legal team at Chadi & Company can help. We have over three decades of experience successfully defending clients against domestic violence charges, and a proven track record of results.
Do not attempt to go through this process without the help of an experienced defence lawyer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Our experienced team of Alberta domestic violence lawyers is here for you throughout every step of the process, from bail hearings to trials and even appeals when necessary.
When you work with a family violence lawyer from Chadi & Company, you benefit from the decades of experience of our entire team of domestic violence lawyers.
Legal costs for defence against domestic violence charges vary widely, based on the circumstances of the case and whether you have a prior criminal history.
At Chadi & Company, you can rest assured that you are receiving premium legal services at an affordable rate.
No. The police and prosecutor decide whether to pursue the charges and can do so even if the family member who made the allegations wishes to drop them.
An emergency protection order (EPO) is a temporary order intended to prevent domestic violence. A person may obtain an EPO from the Court without any input from the accused.
An EPO may impose legally binding conditions on the respondent (the person being accused), such as prohibiting communication with family members, allowing police to seize weapons, and barring them from the family home.
A review of the EPO is typically set for two weeks from the date of the order. With skilled legal representation, EPO conditions may be changed or removed.
If you are the respondent to an EPO in Alberta, contact Chadi & Company immediately for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
Not all domestic assault cases go to court. With skilled representation, it may be possible to have the charges dismissed or to reach an agreement with the prosecutor to have the charges withdrawn, avoid a criminal record, and/or serve a period of probation instead of jail time.
Each case is different and an experienced domestic assault lawyer can examine the particular facts of your case to position you for the most favourable outcome possible.