What Happens When A Person Accused Of Domestic Assault Pleads Guilty

First and foremost, an accused person living in Oshawa, or anywhere else for that matter, must realize that he can only plead guilty if he is guilty.

One cannot plead guilty out of convenience in order to get the matter over and done with. It is unethical for a lawyer to advise who is proclaiming his innocence to plead guilty for the sake of expedience.

If somebody is guilty and wants to plead guilty, there are certain advantages in doing so. By pleading guilty, you demonstrate your remorse to a judge. This is always looked upon favorably. Typically, the courts are overburdened with cases, so Crown Attorneys try to get matters dealt with quickly and efficiently by offering potential “sweetheart” deals in exchange for guilty pleas. The judge recognizes that by entering a guilty plea, you are saving the court time and costs by avoiding the necessity of a trial. It is always a traumatic experience for the spouse or children to have to testify in court. All of this is considered when a judge sentences somebody following a guilty plea.

The sentence that the accused may receive may not necessarily be a jail sentence. When you plead guilty, you can be sentenced 1) to probation, 2) to pay a fine, 3) to go to jail. A lawyer can negotiate a plea bargain, and hopefully, avoid a jail sentence for his or her clients.

There are 2 classifications of assault. One is the indictable offence reserved for the more serious type of assaults, and for a person who has a relatively lengthy criminal record. The second category of assault is a summary conviction offence. Those are reserved for assaults that are minor in nature and for persons who have a minor criminal record. For an indictable assault, the maximum sentence is 5 years in jail. For a summary conviction, the maximum sentence is 6 months in jail. These maximums are reserved for persons with significant criminal records and for assaults that are aggravating in nature.

There are now specialized courts in the province of Ontario that deal exclusively with domestic assault. There are also teams of Crowns that are assigned specifically to prosecute these types of offences. Crowns rely on “victim assistance persons” to assist the victims throughout the process, telling them what their rights are and what they will encounter along the way.

If an accused meets certain criteria, then following a guilty plea he will enter the Partner Assault Response program. His bail will be varied to allow for contact with his wife and family and he then begins the 16-week counseling program. Upon the successful completion of the PAR, the accused is then sentenced before a judge. Usually, the person will be sentenced to probation, wither by the way of a suspended sentence or a discharge. A discharge means you avoid getting a criminal record.

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If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Oshawa, Ontario Region, contact Mitch Engel Barrister & Solicitor for a consultation.

This article is taken from a January 17, 2008 interview with Mitch Engel, Criminal Lawyer with Mitch Engel Barristers & Solicitors, Oshawa, Ontario Criminal Law Firm. Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.