What is the difference between domestic assault and simple assault?
A domestic assault is no different than a simple assault other than it occurs in the confines of a domestic relationship. A domestic relationship can be between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, same-sex relationships, common-law relationships and other family relationships such as parent and child. The difference between domestic assault and simple assault is how they are treated before the courts. A domestic assault generally carries more significant bail conditions and greater sentences if convicted.
Due to the overwhelming amount of domestic violence and the complications associated with prosecuting such intimate assaults, the Crown Prosecutors office has a specialized team of prosecutors who only deal with domestic violence. In Calgary, domestic violence is so pervasive that there is a specialized courtroom that only deals with domestic violence matters.
With rare exception, when a person is charged with domestic assault, they will have bail conditions that prevent them from returning to their matrimonial home, speaking with their domestic partner and/or children. Generally, these conditions can only be removed if the complainant consents to their removal. Even with consent, certain jurisdictions refuse to remove the conditions until a “cooling off” period of one month.
From watching television and movies, most people believe that if the complainant wants to drop the charges that the charges will be dropped. That is not the case in Canada. A prosecutor reviews the file and takes into consideration the willingness of the complainant to testify. If the prosecutor is of the belief the charge is viable with or without the complainant’s testimony, they may refuse to withdraw the charge.
Prosecutors are aware of the many complexities of domestic violence and complainants who recant their statements in an effort to keep the family together. Most often, the prosecutor will only withdraw the criminal domestic assault charges upon the accused entering into a Peace Bond which is a period of probation with certain conditions such as anger management and domestic violence counselling.