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What is domestic assault?

Region: Ontario Answer Number: 1855

Domestic assault is any abuse that happens between people in an intimate relationship, such as two people (opposite or same sex) who are married, common-law partners, an ex-couple, and relationships between parents (or legal guardians) and children. The abuse can be physical, psychological, or financial.

Domestic assault is not a separate and distinct criminal offence under the Canadian Criminal Code. Rather, most acts that would be considered family violence are illegal in Canada under various Criminal Code provisions. This means that while a person will not be arrested and charged with domestic assault, they may be arrested and charged with crimes, such as the following:

  • Assault (s. 265)
    • such as threatening or striking a spouse
    • hybrid offence
    • maximum sentence is imprisonment for 5 years
  • Assault causing bodily harm, Assault with a weapon(s. 267)
    • such as stabbing a spouse with knife
    • hybrid offence
    • maximum sentence is imprisonment for 18 (if prosecuted summarily) or 10 years (if prosecuted by indictment)
  • Kidnapping and forcible confinement (s. 279)
    • such as forcing a person to stay at home or elsewhere, either by physical violence or threats
    • indictable offence
    • maximum sentence is imprisonment for life
    • minimum sentence is four years imprisonment if a firearm is used
  • Sexual assault (s. 271)
    • such as touching someone in a sexual manner without their consent
    • indictable offence
    • maximum sentence is prison for 14 years
    • minimum sentence is four years imprisonment if a firearm is used
  • Criminal harassment (s. 264)
    • such as stalking someone (frequently following them, standing outside their home)
    • hybrid offence
    • maximum punishment is 10 years imprisonment
  • Uttering threats (s. 264.1)
    • such as telling someone that you are going to hurt them if they do not do what you want
    • hybrid offence
    • maximum punishment is 5 years imprisonment if the threat concerns harm to a person
  • Making indecent and harassing phone calls (s. 372)
    • such as threatening someone over the phone with the intent to scare them
    • hybrid offence
    • maximum sentence is two years imprisonment

Punishment

Various punishments that may result from these charges include jail time, a suspended sentence (no jail, but there are conditions you must comply with under what is called a term of probation), a conditional sentence (jail sentence served in the community, like house arrest, with strict conditions), a fine (although this is unlikely), and/or restitution (an amount ordered to be paid to the victim as compensation for the harm caused).

If you have already been found guilty of a crime and want to erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-866-362-7143 or learn more at Parole Board of Canada. It’s easier than you think.

The penalties for assault vary widely. If you have been charged with assault, or any criminal offence, contact our preferred experts:

The Criminal Law Team

Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers



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