Are you familiar with domestic abuse law in Canada?
In 2016, about one-third of reported violent crimes were the result of intimate partner violence.
Despite the fact that laws and regulations continue to evolve, it can still be extremely challenging for victims to get the protection and justice that they need.
Victims of domestic violence should do their best to understand relevant laws and regulations in order to protect themselves and other innocent parties.
According to Canada’s Department of Justice, Canada does not have a specific domestic abuse law.
Instead, various sections of our Criminal Code pertain to acts of family violence — for instance, those pertaining to assault (265–268), abduction (ss. 280–283), stalking (s. 264) and child abandonment (ss. 218).
Police departments and courts have procedures in place to offer extra protection for victims of family violence, and punishments are typically stricter for a given crime if they fall under the heading of domestic violence.
Still, the Canadian justice system can be slow, complicated, and expensive for anyone who is in a vulnerable situation.
One reason why domestic abuse law can be challenging is that, if a case is brought to trial, it can be difficult to establish sound evidence. But the Crown is obligated to provide a burden of proof.
Often it can be difficult to obtain evidence, especially in the case of emotional abuse, threats, or economic abuse.
The court must first prove that a domestic relationship existed, and secondly, that force was applied intentionally.
Sources of evidence may include:
Any evidence you have of abuse should be kept in a safe place, and/or provided to your lawyer or legal representative.
Domestic abuse law has several facets.
If you are a victim of domestic assault, the first step is filing a police report – Canadia police have specific spousal abuse policies regulations to follow.
An arrest may or may not take place, followed by jail time. Bear in mind jail may only be for a few hours until bail. You may request that the police notify you before the person is let out of jail.
Otherwise, if you are worried about your safety, you may be able to get a non-criminal emergency protection order.
Unfortunately, jail time does not always happen, or it may only be for a short time. Longer-term sentencing may include house arrest, probation, or even fines.
If a person pleads guilty and is charged, they will get a sentence, but bear in mind this may not be as severe as you believe it should be.
If you are scared of retaliation after a court date or your abuser is not locked up you can talk to a victim services worker.
Domestic abuse law issues can become more complicated when children are involved.
For many victims, getting to a safe place is crucial for safety, but taking a child with them creates possible risks, as does leaving the child at home.
It’s important that you consider the child’s well-being before making any sudden moves, or you could put their future in jeopardy.
If you are a victim and you leave unexpectedly with the child, our partner (the abuser) could try to accuse you of child abduction.
Custody is 50/50 in Canada. This means that each parent has equal rights to custody. The only way for this to be changed is with a court order or other legal agreement.
A lawyer can help you to find an appropriate way to leave with your child without putting the issue of custody in question.
Domestic abuse law issues can be complex and time-consuming.
If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic abuse or some form of family violence, it’s always best to, if and when possible, contact a lawyer.
If you or your partner are from another country and there are questions of immigration, consult an immigration lawyer.
Bear in mind that sometimes lawyers offer more affordable “unbundled” services — for instance, simply getting a restraining order.
Navigating domestic abuse law can be challenging for victims in so many ways.
But with the right support, it is absolutely possible to move forward with criminal charges if you have been a victim of domestic violence.
Reach out to us at our 24-HOUR HELPLINE: 250-763-1040 and review our list of resources.
You may also want to review the Department of Justice website for more information.
Click here to donate now to Kelowna Women’s Shelter.
Here’s some more important information about domestic abuse in Canada:
Written by Renee Picard at BlogWorks. At BlogWorks we deliver SEO-optimized blog articles to attract more business and build your following.