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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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What can happen before the criminal trial?

Pleading guilty

After your partner is charged, he can plead guilty at any stage of the court case.

Sometimes the Crown Attorney and your partner’s defence lawyer might negotiate what charges your partner will plead guilty to. If they do, they will also tell the judge what sentence they think is fair. A sentence is the punishment he gets for his crime. The judge will make the final decision about what the sentence will be.

The Crown Attorney considers a number of things when negotiating the proposed sentence. These include the strength of the case, if there were any injuries, and whether or not your partner regrets what he did. The Crown Attorney usually asks what you think. But they do not need you to agree to the sentence.

Withdrawing charges

The Crown Attorney can also decide to change or withdraw the charges. For example, if the Crown Attorney learns of other serious things your partner has done, they could charge your partner with those things. Or, if the Crown Attorney thinks the evidence is not strong enough to support the charges that have been laid, they can reduce or withdraw the charges. This could happen if the Crown Attorney thinks you will not be a good witness at a trial.

In some situations, the Crown Attorney will withdraw the charges if the accused person agrees to sign a peace bond. The peace bond might include a condition that your partner is not allowed to come near you.

Early intervention

The courts have a program called early intervention. It can be offered as a way to resolve a partner abuse case without going to trial. It helps first-time offenders have their case resolved quickly by either pleading guilty or entering into a peace bond. To qualify, the offender cannot have caused significant injuries or used a weapon during the assault.

The offender must be willing to take a 12-session Partner Assault Response (PAR) program. The PAR program holds offenders responsible for their actions. It also helps them learn to resolve conflict in non-violent ways.

If your partner enters the PAR program, staff from the program lets you know. They ask you about your safety, and tell you about services and supports you might need. The staff tells you what is being taught in the PAR program.

Usually, your partner is not allowed to live at home as a condition of their release. But, in some cases, if you agree, your partner can return home during the program. You must give your consent, which you can take away at any time and for any reason.

Offenders can also enter a PAR program as part of their probation.