19/10/2016 0 Comments
How You Can Strengthen Your Defence When You are Accused of Domestic Violence
Despite a downturn in family violence in the past several years, thousands of Albertans are charged with criminal offences related to allegations of domestic violence. If this has happened to you or a loved one, you can strengthen your case by retaining a criminal lawyer, staying calm, avoiding contact with the complainant, documenting what happened right away, taking steps to improve your situation at home, and assisting your counsel through the process. These measures are outlined further here below.
Hire a Criminal Lawyer
The first task to undertake if you are charged with an offence related to allegations of domestic violence in Calgary is to contact an experienced criminal lawyer for legal representation immediately.
Being charged with a domestic violence related offence is a very emotional time, but it is important not to do anything that could make things worse. Not everyone arrested is found guilty of committing a criminal offence. In fact, a criminal conviction will only result if it can be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a more difficult test to prove than other areas of law. Do not take drastic actions, such as uprooting your children and moving out of town, leaving the country, contacting the complainant, or otherwise behaving inappropriately. Negative consequences could otherwise result, such as additional charges and further hardship for you or your family.
Avoid Contact with the Complainant
The importance of avoiding contact with the complainant warrants additional attention. You may prefer to “work things out” with the complainant or their family and friends, but you should be very careful and resist this tendency that others in the same situation would likely make. In most cases, as the accused, you may be banned by an order not to contact the complainant. This means no texts, no phone calls, no visiting even in a public place, and no gifts or cards. Sometimes a well-intended birthday card to someone in the family can be the reason a no-contact order is considered broken. If you happen to see the complainant when out in public, then do not greet him or her but instead step away. Not only with this protect you during the proceedings, it will also avoid new allegations. It’s too easy for any contact to be misinterpreted as stalking or harassment, which can be an aggravating factor at your trial or sentencing hearing.
Document What Happened As Soon As Possible
While it is still fresh in your mind, make notes that you can refer back to later. Who did what? Who said what? Who else might have observed the alleged incident? Who heard or saw what happened next and when? Who were you and the complainant in contact with next? What did any others do that were there? If you have any questions about what details are important, speak to your lawyer for advice. Keep in mind the importance of not contacting the complainant, including for any details about the allegations.
Take Steps to Improve Your Domestic Situation
After criminal charges, your focus should be on undertaking efforts to improve your domestic situation. Services such as personal counselling, rehabilitation for drug or alcohol addiction, or anger management therapy, for example, may support you in removing legitimate stresses in your domestic life.
An example of how an accused helped his case is R. v. Haggerty, where the accused began rehabilitation right away while the domestic violence case was underway. As part of the sentencing, the judge considered the efforts he undertook to rehabilitate himself:
“Rehabilitation is said to be a relevant factor in this case. Counsel notes that Chad Haggerty has no criminal record. He maintains contact with his community on the East Prairie Metis Settlement, continues to seek advice from the Elders and to participate in sweats and sweet grass ceremonies. He is currently attending university, plans to write the LSAT and, if successful, apply for admission to law school.”
The judge ultimately agreed with Mr. Haggerty’s lawyer and agreed that the accused, who pleaded guilty, could serve a conditional sentence, allowing him to serve his sentence in the community instead of in custody.
Whether it is conventional therapy, spiritual, religious or community engagement, steps to improve yourself or your home life can be mitigating factors that the Crown considers when determining how to proceed or a judge considers at sentencing.
Assist Your Legal Counsel
Just as it is important to retain an experienced criminal lawyer to assist you, there are steps you can take to assist your counsel appropriately throughout the process. Most importantly, follow the legal advice provided by your lawyer. Work with a lawyer you have confidence in and be careful to avoid the appearance of trying to take over the case. For example, do not insist on speaking in the witness stand if your lawyer advises against it. Let your lawyer prepare and argue the case well, using legal expertise.
Contact Dennis Kolba, Domestic Violence Lawyer in Calgary
If you or a loved one are charged with a serious offence, such as alleged domestic violence, a lawyer in Calgary with a criminal defence practice can defend you. In addition to hiring an excellent lawyer for your case, you can strength you position with several other steps as requested in the specific nature of your case. If you contact Dennis Kolba Criminal Law Office, Mr. Kolba can counsel you and help increase the likelihood of withdrawal of the charges, an acquittal, a strong plea arrangement or a fair sentencing hearing. Dennis Kolba is an experienced domestic violence lawyer in Calgary and sexual assault lawyer in Calgary. He works hard to protect your reputation. Call today at 403-464-3013.