What Happens When Someone Pleads Guilty To Domestic Assault

Across the province of Ontario, a system is in place that comes into play when a person pleads guilty of domestic assault.

It is known either as PARS (Partner Assault Response Systems) or the EIP (Early Intervention Program). Four or five days before the first scheduled court appearance, the Crown Attorneys have access to the cases and set out to screen them. If they find cases of relatively minor assaults (not cases of assault with a weapon, or where someone has been injured) involving a person who has no prior criminal record, the Crown Attorney will rule them eligible for these counseling programs.

At this time, the Crown will make the accused an offer. If the accused accepts responsibility and enters an early guilty plea, the Crown will modify the bail and allow the accused and spouse to get back together again—on certain terms. In the meantime, the accused will enter a guilty plea and begin a counseling program, typically for 16 weeks, one hour per week, focused on anger management specific to spousal relationships. At the end of that counseling session a report is created by the group counsellor. If the report is positive, the Crown agrees to request a Conditional Discharge, which is a finding of guilt but not a formal criminal record. That result is a substantial advantage over a suspended sentence or a jail sentence.

The biggest advantage of doing this is that the accused gets the consent of the Prosecutor to a quick bail variation that allows the couple to get back together and that is very attractive to a lot of people.

However, we as defense lawyers have a certain discomfort about this process because it strikes me as improper for somebody to enter a quick guilty plea when they may not be guilty of anything, or they may have very legitimate defenses available to them. Sometimes the cost and the emotional toll of fighting the charges makes it impractical and so people jump at the first opportunity the Crown offers.

We work very hard to acquire bail variations without a person having to submit to the PARS program, and without them having to admit guilt. This involves sometimes negotiating for a peace bond, which is a promise to the court to abide by certain conditions that results in a complete withdrawal of the criminal charges. Another option is to appeal the bail ruling to the Superior Court for bail variation. It can be time consuming. It can take a number of weeks, and it can be very expensive. But, when a client has the financial wherewithal to fight every route available to them, they do have more options than accepting the first offer that the Crown makes.

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If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Toronto,Ontario Region, contact Adler Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman for a consultation.

This information is taken from an interview from February 29, 2008 with Ed Prutschi, Criminal Lawyer with Adler Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman, Toronto Criminal Lawyers. The article is provided as an information service only and should not be used as legal advice. Laws vary by jurisdiction so please consult with an appropriate legal professional if you are looking for help with a specific situation.