Advice for People Charged with Domestic Assault

We advise all persons charged with criminal offenses, including domestic assault, not to give any statement to the police. They have a right to silence and they should exercise it. The police are going to charge someone at the scene and speaking to them will not change what is going to happen after a domestic assault charge. It is to the person’s benefit to stay silent.

Another issue is to be in a position to document, as much as possible, what occurred in the incident. For example, if there is a history where the accused has actually been the victim of domestic violence on many occasions in the past, those incidents would be documented by previous calls to the police. Or, if there were no calls to the police, they could be documented by reports to physicians that there were physical injuries. Or there might be the statements of other family members. The accused should gather this material very early on to show the history behind this particular scenario.

If there is a Family Law Court case and there is some acrimony involved in that, the accused should gather together those Family Law papers and advise the family lawyer, in addition to any criminal counsel of what has happened.

If accused persons suffer any injuries during the assault, it is very important that they indicate those injuries to the police immediately and demand that they be documented and, ideally, photographed. If the police decline to do that, we advise people as soon as they are released from custody, to go and have an independent third party photograph the injury and also go to a doctor’s office in order to get them treated and documented. Injuries need to be photographed when they are at their most serious. Days later after they have partly healed, the photographs won’t show the severity of the injury or be taken with as great a weight by the court. If they have photos that the police have been asked to take showing that they were freshly injured, that goes a long way towards bolstering their credibility and indicate that they weren’t the aggressors in whatever scenario has resulted in these charges.

If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in Toronto or the Ontario Region, contact Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman for a consultation.

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About the author

I am one of the senior partners at Bytensky Shikhman, a criminal litigation firm in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In my 25+ year career, I have conducted numerous trials and appeals before all levels of Court in Ontario, defending just about every type of charge in our criminal law. I am also an Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy at Osgoode Hall Law School and currently the Treasurer of the Criminal Lawyers' Association of Ontario. I am also an Adjunct Professor for Trial Advocacy at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University and a regular lecturer and placement supervisor for Osgoode's Intensive Programme in Criminal Law.
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