Domestic Violence Lawyers in Calgary

In Alberta, accusations concerning domestic violence draw substantial attention and resources from the legal system, encompassing the Court, Crown, and various law enforcement agencies. Notably, Calgary hosts a dedicated and distinctive courtroom specifically designed to handle domestic violence cases.

This particular court operates with a team of designated prosecutors who work closely with the Calgary Police Service, programs aiding victims, and government-funded organizations such as HomeFront. Emphasizing the importance of supporting the victim, the approach taken in managing domestic violence cases focuses on prioritizing their well-being.

The distinguishing factor of domestic violence offences lies in the dynamic between the individuals involved. While the protocols for domestic violence typically apply to cases of cohabitation, this specialized court also serves situations where intimate personal relationships are at the core of the conflict, even if the parties live separately.

Domestic violence encompasses a spectrum of offences, which include but are not limited to assault, threats, property damage, and criminal harassment.

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Key Takeaways

  • Domestic violence charges are usually charged depending not he type of violence that occurred. Thus, the accused may be charged under 265, or s. 269 for example.
  • The maximum punishment for a domestic assault charge would be no more than 14 years.
  • There are several defences available for domestic violence charges, including identity, self-defence and Charter
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How can a domestic violence lawyer in Calgary help? 

A domestic violence lawyer in Calgary can help by advising you on what to do in your court file all the way from talks with the police, being arrested or charged, into trial and beyond. Your lawyer will explain all the steps to you, advise you on how to proceed, and help you out with possible defences.

  • A domestic violence lawyer will look at the facts of your case and analyze all the possible paths you can take in order to advise you on the best course of action.
  • A domestic violence lawyer will discuss with you on what you want to do, considering all of the options available.
  • A domestic violence lawyer will examine defences for you in order to lower the punishment you may face.
  • A domestic violence lawyer will also look at potential options for you to reduce your sentence, or get you out of jail, such as bail conditions.

 Domestic Violence Charge in the Criminal Code of Canada

According to s. 266 of the Criminal Code:


266 Every one who commits an assault is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or      (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Aggravated assault

268 (1) Every one commits an aggravated assault who wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.

(2) Every one who commits an aggravated assault is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

(3) For greater certainty, in this section, “wounds” or “maims” includes to excise, infibulate or mutilate, in whole or in part, the labia majora, labia minora or clitoris of a person, except where

(a) a surgical procedure is performed, by a person duly qualified by provincial law to practise medicine, for the benefit of the physical health of the person or for the purpose of that person having normal reproductive functions or normal sexual appearance or function; or

(b) the person is at least eighteen years of age and there is no resulting bodily harm.

(4) For the purposes of this section and section 265, no consent to the excision, infibulation or mutilation, in whole or in part, of the labia majora, labia minora or clitoris of a person is valid, except in the cases described in paragraphs (3)(a) and (b).

Examples of Domestic Violence Charges

Some examples of a domestic violence charge may include the following:

  • The accused assaulted their common law partner;
  • The accused verbally threatened a partner and the partner had grounds to believe that the threat would be carried out;
  • The accused threw objects at their partner in a violent manner; and
  • The accused was verbally harassing their partner.

Domestic Violence Charge Defences

  • Factual innocence: A strong defence against a domestic violence charge is to maintain that you are factually innocence. If you can show that the facts and the evidence do not support that you were committing a domestic violence offence, you may have a defence that you were factually innocent.
  • Self-defence: This is a very common defence for domestic violence. In order to raise this defence, the accused must prove that another used force against them or that they believed they would be subject to force against them. Their own actions against that force must be proven to be reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.
  • Identity: A defence based on the identity of the perpetrator may be a defence to a domestic violence charge. In order for this defence to be raised successfully in court, you would have to prove that you did not commit this act. This is a defence that states that the accused was wrongfully convicted. Evidence that can be submitted to create a solid identification defence is eyewitness identification, DNA evidence, media and fingerprints for example.
  • Any applicable Charter defences: The Charter sets out your rights and freedoms before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights deliberately or inadvertently, it could aid in your defence. If any of your Charter rights have been violated before or after your arrest, you may be able to have some or all of the evidence that the Crown is relying on to secure a conviction excluded under s. 24(2) of the Charter.
Aggravated Assault Lawyers Calgary

What are the consequences of a domestic violence charge?

A domestic violence charge entails a maximum punishment as follows, if charged as an assault charge:

  • Imprisonment for a maximum of a term of up to 14 years.

Punishments for a domestic violence offence depend on the accused’s circumstances and the facts of the case.

For minor domestic violence offences, the punishment given is usually two years less a day for summary convictions, while it is up to five years where the offence is serious and the Crown has elected to proceed by indictment. For assault causing bodily harm or for sexual assault, the punishment goes up to ten years in jail. Finally, for aggravated assault or sexual assault of a minor, the punishment is up to 14 years in jail.

There are several possible minimum sentences for domestic violence offences. These are a discharge, suspended sentence and conditional sentence. With a discharge, the accused may either receive an absolute or conditional discharge. An absolute discharge means that the domestic violence charge will not appear on your record, whereas a conditional discharge means that the domestic violence charge will be erased after you complete a required amount of probation. A suspended sentence allows you to be on probation for part of your jail term, while a conditional sentence allows you to, in certain circumstances, receive house arrest or serves times outside of jail, in jail-like conditions.

A domestic violence offence can also entail severe consequences for current and future employment opportunities and immigration status.

Counsel may also be able to lower the jail sentence through discussions with the Crown prosecutors.

Beyond any immediate jail and/or probation sentence you receive, there is also a discretionary DNA Order if the offence is prosecuted by indictment.

Assault under s. 266 is a secondary designated offence under s. 487.04 (c), (d) or (e), and the DNA order can be authorized regardless of if the Crown proceeds summarily or by indictment.

Aggravating Factors

Domestic violence is an aggravating factor in assault cases and charges.

Assault without a domestic violence or aggravated assault component would only consist of a punishment of up to five years in jail. However, domestic violence is a factor to assault that judges and Crowns will consider in increasing the sentence.

Furthermore, additional aggravating factors depend on the severity of the offence. From the assault charge itself, it is clear that there are different punishments depending on the severity of the offence. The age of the victim is an aggravating factor as well as whether this is a first or subsequent offence.

Domestic Violence Charge Investigation 

An investigation regarding a domestic violence charge will look at the actus reus and mens rea of the offence in order to determine the level of guilt.

The actus reus for a domestic violence charge under s. 265 and s. 266 as well as s. 268 is established by proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the following:

Domestic assault s. 265 and 266 

  • The accused, in the proper jurisdiction, at a specified date and time, applied force to another; and
  • The accused did so without the consent of the victim.


  • The accused threatened another; and
  • The accused had the capacity to follow through with the threat.


  • The accused carried a weapon or imitation of a weapon; and
  • The accused accosted or impeded another while carrying the weapon.

Aggravated assault s. 268

  • The accused wounded, disfigured or endangered the life of another.

The actus reus refers to the act or the omission itself that constitutes the physical elements of a crime. Thus, the physical aspect of a domestic violence charge would be constituted by any physical act, such as the accused maiming their partner at home.

The mens rea for a domestic violence charge under s. 266 and s. 268 includes proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • The accused, in the right jurisdiction, at the specified date and time, knowingly applied force to another; and
  • The accused did so knowing they did not have the consent of the victim.


  • The accused knowingly threatened another; and
  • The accused knew they have the capacity to follow through with the threat.


  • The accused knowingly carried a weapon or imitation of a weapon; and
  • The accused knowingly accosted another while carrying the weapon.

Aggravated assault s. 268

  • The accused knowingly wounded, disfigured or endangered the life of another.

Mens rea is defined as the knowledge or intention of committing the crime. Thus, knowing that one is committing an assault, or what constitutes as an assault by law, consists of the mens rea of the charge.

Bail Conditions for Domestic Violence Charges

Every accused has the right through Canadian constitutional law and jurisprudence to reasonable bail.

Bail conditions for domestic violence charges require lawyers and their clients to work out a bail plan, that will allow the accused, if the plan is accepted, to go out on bail, rather than be in jail.

The courts look at bail plans through the ladder principle, which means that courts must grant the least restrictive conditions upon the accused unless the Crown prosecutor can prove that these would not be enough and instead, that restrictive conditions would be more appropriate.

There are three main issues to granting bail that courts take into consideration. Thus, if you are a flight risk, a threat to the public or detention is required for public confidence in the legal system, you will be less likely to receive bail.

With domestic violence cases, the court will look at the history between you and the other person involved, the type of violence that occurred, whether weapons were involved, or whether there was an aggravated assault, criminal history and records and the accuser’s words against you for example. In domestic violence cases, you also may be subject to certain orders, such as no contact orders or orders to remain in a certain jurisdiction or stay in the country for a certain period of time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence

Will a domestic violence charge show on my criminal record while the case is ongoing?

While a case is ongoing, no charges will likely appear on your record.

Will a domestic violence charge show on my criminal record after the case is done?

A domestic violence charge will show up on your criminal record after the case is done, only if you are charged with it by the court.

You may later apply for the charge to be removed, through a records suspension process.

How long does a domestic violence case take?

The length of trial for a domestic violence case depends on the circumstances of your case, any setbacks in court or trial and more, however, it usually takes a few months to a year.

Can I travel while a domestic violence case is ongoing?

Yes, you can most likely travel while a domestic violence case is ongoing, as you are not yet guilty of it, and thus, you are innocent and can travel. Your travel may be restricted by certain bail conditions however.

Can I go to jail for domestic violence?

Yes, you can go to jail for domestic violence. The maximum penalty is no more than 14 years in jail and depends on the way the charge is prosecuted as well as any further aggravating factors.

Related Offences  

  • Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm: This charge relates to those who are accused of causing bodily harm or using a weapon in an assault, or suffocates the complainant.
  • Unlawfully causing bodily harm: This charge relates to those who are accused of causing another bodily harm unlawfully or without consent.
  • Torture: This charge relates to those who are accused of inflicting torture on another without consent. The accused must have been instigated by an official or an official themselves.

Client Reviews

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