The COVID-19 pandemic confined many people to their houses as lockdowns and physical distancing measures were put in place to stop the spread of the virus. This new way of living, combined with job losses, high-stress levels and economic hardships resulting from lengthy pandemic measures, has meant that domestic violence is on the rise.
The accusation of domestic violence can have long-term consequences for you and your family. It’s crucial to hire a domestic violence lawyer you can rely on to defend you and look after your best interests.
Forms of Domestic Violence
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a number of offences may be considered domestic violence, including:
Criminal harassment, also known as stalking, can be considered domestic violence. It’s a crime to engage in activities causing another person to fear for their safety or the safety of those known to them. A person guilty of criminal harassment may be punished by summary conviction or sentenced to imprisonment for up to 10 years.
Sexual assault is unpermitted sexual contact – including with a spouse or partner – without consent. Anyone found guilty of sexual assault, an indictable offence, may be punished by summary conviction and subject to imprisonment for up to 18 months or sentenced to imprisonment up to 10 years. They may also be required to register on the Sex Offender Information Registry for years or decades.
Due to recent Criminal Code amendments, these are extremely complex trials and require an experienced lawyer to properly defend.
A person commits assault when they apply force intentionally, directly or indirectly, attempt or threatens to apply force, or while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or imitation thereof, accost another person. There are various forms of assault in Canada, including:
- Simple assault: This is the most basic form of assault and can range from a push to a brawl.
- Assault with a weapon: This offence occurs when a person threatens to use a weapon to cause harm to someone or causes bodily harm to someone. This weapon could be a gun, knife or something as simple as a pen, depending on how it is used.
- Aggravated assault: Aggravated assault often results in severe and permanent injuries. It’s an indictable offence with a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
This crime is committed when someone knowingly threatens to cause another person bodily harm; when they threaten to burn, destroy or damage property; or to kill, poison or injure an animal belonging to another person. Threats can be conveyed by voice, text, email or other means. Uttering threats is punishable as a summary offence or, in extreme cases, as an indictable offence. Anyone guilty of uttering threats may be imprisoned for up to five years.
How to Defend Yourself Against False Accusations
Here are some tips on defending yourself if you are falsely accused of domestic violence:
Keep your cool
Being falsely accused of committing a crime can be devastating, and it is normal to want to fight back. People often want to tell their side of the story. But it is crucial that you seek legal help, and find out how to make sure you tell your story in the right place at the right time. Anything from text messages to conversations with friends can become evidence that the Crown will use against you.
Hire a lawyer
When facing false accusations, hiring a domestic violence lawyer is perhaps the most important step you can take. The process will be substantially more with an experienced lawyer on your side. A Vancouver criminal defence lawyer will be familiar with the local court system and legislation and can put that expertise to work for you. An experienced lawyer will ensure that your bail conditions are reasonable and practicable, and permit you to continue with your life while dealing with the charges.
Make a list of the accusations
Make a list of the accusations levelled against you. You should track where you went, what you did and who could vouch for you. Your version of events is crucial because it may offer details that refute the claims, particularly if they revolve around an event that never occurred.
Begin working with your lawyer to gather evidence to support your case, as you’ll be required to verify what you said and how you acted. You must submit evidence in court to prove your innocence and establish that the events did not occur or did not take place in the manner described.
Domestic Violence Lawyers in Vancouver
If you have been charged with an offence and require legal assistance, contact us at Johnson Doyle Nelson & Anderson. Our experienced lawyers will work in your best interests and ensure you have the best defence in your domestic violence case.