What Is The Difference Between Domestic Assault and Assault?

Technically, there is no offence called “domestic assault” in Criminal Code.  The Criminal Code includes only the offence assault and the other, more serious forms of assault such as assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, and aggravated assault.

However, Ontario’s Crown prosecutors are mandated by the Attorney-General to treat all assault charges which happen in a “domestic context” separately and more seriously than assaults that happen between, say, strangers on the street or in a bar or co-workers in a workplace.  As a result, being charged with what is referred to as “domestic assault” is a very serious offence.

If you have been charged with domestic assault, it is vital that you understand the charges and potential consequences.  If you need counsel or representation for your domestic assault charge, contact Erickson Law for expert legal defence in Toronto.

What is Assault?

Assault is defined in the Criminal Code as follows:

Section 265 (1) A person commits assault when

(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;

(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or cause that other person reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or

(c) while openly wearing to carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.

What is Domestic Assault?

Domestic assault is any assault which occurs in the context of a domestic relationship.  A domestic relationship is where two people (whether same-sex or opposite) are in a family, an intimate relationship or live together in a household.  This can include casual dating relationships, boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, common law partners, married spouses and even relationships between a child and parent/legal guardian.

What criminal offenses can arise in the context of a domestic relationship?

There are multiple events that could constitute a criminal offense in the context of domestic relationship. These include:

  • Assault
  • Assault with a weapon
  • Assault causing bodily harm
  • Aggravated assault
  • Uttering threats
  • Criminal harassment

Each of these offences is a unique offence in the
Criminal Code but if they occur within the context of a domestic relationship, they will be prosecuted as a form of domestic assault.

How serious are Domestic Assault charges?

Domestic assault charges are treated very seriously in Ontario courts.  Often, criminal charges that arise in domestic situations are treated more seriously than those outside domestic situations, and are treated with zero-tolerance by Ontario’s Crown prosecutors.

Ontario’s Crown Policy Manual mandates that domestic assault cases should be prosecuted vigorously.  Once the Crown Attorney’s Office deems a case to be “domestic” in nature, the case is treated with a heightened degree of seriousness which can mean that it becomes harder to obtain bail and if bail is granted, the conditions imposed on the accused can be more severe and will likely prohibit the accused from returning home or having contact or communicating with the alleged victim.

The consequences of being convicted of domestic assault include imprisonment, fines, probation, counselling, and a criminal record.  A conviction can also impact family court proceedings.

If you have been charged with domestic assault, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact Erickson Law for expert advice and representation concerning your domestic assault charge in Toronto. Call us at (416) 363-3612.