What is Domestic Assault?
Assault is the intentional application of force to another person without their consent. Domestic assault is no different than an assault generally, except it happens in the context of a domestic relationship. Although not classified differently in the Criminal Code, domestic assault has different implications for bail conditions and sentencing. In order to be charged with domestic assault, actual physical abuse is not required. A person can be charged with assault even if there was only a threat of assault.
A domestic relationship is wide-ranging and includes marriage, common-law or dating. With respect to domestic assault charges, a domestic relationship also applies to children, whether biological or not.
A domestic assault charge has immediate and significant consequences including bail conditions prohibiting an accused from returning to their own residence and having no contact with the complainant or their children. These conditions can remain in place even if the complainant requests that they be removed. Potential sentences if found guilty of domestic assault can result in lengthy periods of jail.
Allegations of domestic assault are treated very seriously by the police, prosecutors and courts for the following reasons:
- The prevalence of domestic abuse in our society;
- The power imbalance as it usually involves men abusing women;
- The lasting impact it can have on children living in the home; and
- The risk of the violence escalating if the abuse is not dealt with quickly and effectively.
Due to the prevalence of domestic violence, the Calgary Court Centre has a courtroom dedicated only to domestic violence offences. This courtroom also uses specialized prosecutors who focus solely on these types of offences.