Is it Possible to Have Domestic Assault Charges Dropped in Toronto?

Rohan Mathew


Being charged with assault against a domestic partner is a harrowing experience. We tend to think of assault as comprising acts of physical violence, but the reality is that uttering threats or even raising a hand can be considered forms of assault under Canada’s Criminal Code. 

Words said or gestures made in the heat of an argument have real consequences — consequences many people who choose to lay charges may not even be aware of. One of the natural questions people have after being charged with assault over something they may see as a simple misunderstanding is: “Can I get these charges dropped?”

Domestic Assault Laws in Toronto

Assault in Toronto is governed by the Criminal Code of Canada and the Ontario court system, and in Ontario, assault against an intimate partner is viewed as a zero-tolerance offence. This means that the police do not need any additional evidence aside from the complainant’s word to lay charges.

Because these laws are designed to protect the most vulnerable people in society, as soon as the police are involved the question is no longer in the hands of the person making the accusation. Even if the individual laying charges asks for them to be dropped, the legal system must move forward with the case.  

Furthermore, because people charged with domestic-related assault are often given no-contact orders as a bail condition, attempting to communicate with the alleged victim to explore alternatives will only put you deeper in trouble with the law. 

How a Toronto Criminal Defence Lawyer Can Help

In some cases, it is possible to get charges of domestic-related assault withdrawn if the judge deems the prosecution unlikely to be able to prove the case — but doing so requires the help of an experienced criminal lawyer in Toronto who understands the relevant case law and can mediate with the prosecution. 

Toronto criminal lawyers who specialize in domestic-related assault charges will know whether there is a chance that the judge might choose to withdraw the charges, whether it makes more sense to prepare for a trial, or whether pleading guilty is the wisest course of action. 

Even if it is impossible to get the charges withdrawn in your situation, a Toronto criminal defence lawyer can help you get a reduced sentence. While assault against a domestic partner can lead to a jail term of up to five years in jail, if the judge is convinced to treat it as a summary conviction, the penalty can be much lighter — up to six months in jail and a $5000, or a non-custodial sentence with a peace bond.

Every criminal case is unique, and having legal counsel who can help you think through the situation in a rational way while also providing the personal support is the best way to protect your civil rights. If you’ve been charged with assault against a domestic partner, the best thing you can do is to get in touch with Toronto criminal lawyers who specialize in domestic assault.