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Why Domestic Abuse Charges are Unique in Ontario

Domestic abuse is a challenging topic that is often very emotional for all parties involved, whether you are the victim, the accused, or their family members. Across Canada, family violence is reported to make up to 26% of violence cases. Because domestic abuse occurs inside homes and often involves delicate issues such as caring for children and the elderly, the law treats domestic abuse with a certain level of subjectivity.

Due to Canada’s split legal system between the federal government and the provincial government, domestic abuse law has small variations across the provinces, which can make a big difference in a criminal trial.

In today’s post, What The Law will be explaining what we mean by domestic abuse in homes across Canada. We will also look at what makes domestic abuse law in Ontario different from other provinces in Canada. 

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse, violence and assault relate to criminal offences going on between members of a home or family unit. The abuse can take many forms, including:

  • Threatening behaviour - where the accused has behaved in a way that would make the victim feel like their life or well-being is in danger.
  • Physical violence - beating, shoving, or harming a person on purpose.
  • Sexual abuse - including unwanted sexual contact and ignoring consent.
  • Emotional abuse - harassment, stalking, manipulation, and bullying.

While most cases of emotional and psychological abuse are not viewed as a crime due to being subjective and hard to prove, they do make it much more likely that domestic abuse is or will occur in a household.

It is worth noting that domestic abuse is not just about men beating women, despite what we commonly presume. Domestic abuse victims can be men or women, straight or LGBTQ+, married or unmarried. It also does not have to involve physical violence, with other acts ranging from emotional and psychological torment to property and financial damages also being forms of domestic abuse.

Why is Domestic Abuse Law Different in Ontario?

Although we commonly associate domestic abuse occurring between couples living together, the law is slightly different in Ontario.

Unlike other provinces, domestic abuse and assault law views any abuse occurring in a home as a form of domestic abuse. This means children, parents, siblings and even roommates might be considered victims if affected by violence or neglect. 

Examples of Domestic Abuse in Ontario

Because domestic abuse is much broader in nature in Ontario compared to other provinces, domestic abuse is much more than harming your marriage partner.

In fact, domestic abuse can be referred to in the following situations:

  • Physical abuse or endangerment of a person within your household
  • Showing threatening behaviour or language at home
  • Psychological or emotional abuse, including of children, roommates, or parents. 
  • Exploiting family members with money in order for them to survive
  • Financial abuse where you borrow or steal money from family members without repaying it back

Penalties for Domestic Abuse

If found guilty of domestic abuse in Ontario, your penalties will depend on the severity and circumstances around your offence. It is likely you will be separated from your family for some time, including children and your partner. You might also receive one of the following penalties:

  • Jail sentence
  • House arrest (also known as a custodial sentence)
  • Fine
  • Restitution - a fine to cover the victim’s suffering and damages
  • Probation - where your behaviour is monitored regularly by officials

If the domestic abuse offence involves other forms of abuse, such as using a weapon or inflicting severe wounds, then you will also receive the penalties they incur, which typically results in a much longer jail sentence. 

Get the Help You Need from Experienced Domestic Abuse Defence Lawyers in Toronto & the GTA

If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic abuse in southern Ontario, you should act quickly to get the best defence possible. Defending domestic abuse is a delicate process that requires the experience and knowledge of an experienced domestic abuse lawyer. Without this help, you are significantly likely to lose your case if you try to defend yourself alone. 

Thankfully, What The Law has an excellent team of hard-working and skilled domestic abuse defence lawyers who have the experience you need to get the best defence possible. We know legal defence can be a costly and difficult process, which is why we cater our services to a wide range of individuals no matter their background, income, or personal circumstances. Contact us today and tell us what happened - we are here to listen, protect and fight for you.

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