Police say domestic violence in Calgary is on the rise at least partially as a result of a severe economic downturn that has cost thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industry.
Figures released by the Calgary Police Service show they responded to 2,796 domestic violence calls in 2016 and the number has been increasing for the past three years.
“This is a 36 per cent increase over the average and we have not seen domestic violence rates this high since 2004,” said Staff Sgt. Rob Davidson of the Calgary police domestic conflict unit.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic offences include more than just assault, and may not involve actual physical contact. Even if offences involving family members do not involve physical violence, the police and the courts will often be handle the case in similar fashion.
Other common offences that may involve family members include:
- Unlawful confinement (for example, preventing a family member from leaving a residence),
- Mischief (for example, intentionally damaging a family member’s property),
- Sexual assault (non-consensual physical touching of a sexual nature),
- Uttering threats, and
- Criminal harassment.
What is a Peace Bond?
For some less serious cases of domestic violence, the Crown prosecutor may agree to withdraw the criminal charges against the accused if the accused agrees to enter into a “peace bond.”
A peace bond is a court order that requires a person to “keep the peace and be of good behaviour,” for a specified period of time.
The defendant must agree to enter into the Bond. The defendant will not obtain a criminal record by consenting to enter into a Peace Bond. In the Order, the Judge will prescribe a series of conditions or restrictions that the accused must uphold. These may include but are not limited to, periodically reporting to police, curfew restrictions, and requirements to remain a certain distance away from the victim or weapons prohibitions. If you fail to uphold the conditions outlined in the Bond then you will receive a criminal record for the breach. (Source: Calgary Legal Guidance: http://clg.ab.ca/programs-services/dial-a-law/peace-bonds-2)
With a peace bond, the accused does not need to plead guilty to a criminal offence, and so does not receive a criminal record.
If the terms of a peace bond are breached, it is considered a criminal offence and can lead to criminal charges. Breaching a peace bond can also result in a financial penalty.
Your lawyer cannot make the prosecutor offer a peace bond. It is up to the prosecutor whether they are willing to offer a “peace bond” to resolve a domestic violence charge. A prosecutor may refuse to resolve a domestic violence file with a peace bond and insist that criminal charges proceed. Your lawyer can give advice about whether a peace bond is a realistic option for an accused.
If the Police Want to Speak to Me About a Domestic Offence, What Should I Do?
If you are being investigated for a domestic violence incident, you should speak with a lawyer before discussing the allegations with police. Even if you are innocent and even though the police may not have charged you with anything yet, it’s still highly recommended to consult with a lawyer. A lawyer can give you important advice about your legal rights and responsibilities before you make a decision that could affect your ability to defend yourself.
Contact a Domestic Offence Criminal Lawyer
If you have been charged with an offence involving a family member, domestic assault, or if the police have asked to speak with you about a domestic violence allegation, you should immediately contact an experienced defence lawyer. Contact Maureen McConaghy, an experienced domestic violence lawyer in Calgary, for a free consultation.