Although domestic assault is not specifically defined in the Criminal Code, assault charges of a domestic nature are considered an aggravating factor on sentencing for those found guilty and treated differently than regular assault.
The Crown has a zero-tolerance policy towards domestic violence. This means that a charge or arrest is more likely to be made if a police officer arrives at the scene of the alleged domestic assault. Domestic assault generally occurs in the context of a domestic or intimate relationship between two people. It can be a relationship between a husband and wife, parent and child, sexual partners, siblings or other more broadly defined domestic relationships. What qualifies as “domestic” is at the discretion of the Crown. Under section 718.2 of the Criminal Code, domestic assault is seen as an “aggravating factor” for sentencing purposes. The assault does not necessarily need to involve physical abuse and can include threats of assault or coercion.
The penalty and consequences of being found guilty of domestic assault are significant. The penalty will be more severe than for those found guilty of an assault that did not take place in a domestic context. This is because in section 718.2 of the Criminal Code, the Court is required to take into consideration “aggravating or mitigating circumstances” that relate to the offence when imposing a sentence. A person found guilty may receive a criminal record and be sentenced for a period of time in jail. The maximum sentence for domestic assault is two years less one day if the Crown prosecutes the case by summary conviction or ten years imprisonment if the Crown proceeds on indictment. However, it is also possible to be found guilty of a domestic assault offence and receive no criminal record. Therefore, it is important you find the right lawyer to defend your case.