If you are charged with assault and this is your first or second offence, you may be eligible for a diversion program that will result in the charges against you being withdrawn. These programs will require that you to accept responsibility for your actions and that you complete a program designed for you by a probation officer. The programs that you will be required to complete typically last a few months and may involve things like mandatory counselling or community service. Once the Crown receives proof that you have completed the program, the charges against you will be withdrawn.
Alternatively, you could have your lawyer negotiate with the Crown and seek to resolve the matter with a peace bond. A peace bond will require that you comply with a set of conditions for the period of a year, but once you have signed a peace bond, the charges against you will be withdrawn. The conditions that will typically be accompany a peace bond include staying away from the residence or place of work of the victim, reporting to probation and attending court as required, and keeping the peace and being of good behaviour for a year.
If you have been charged with assault with a weapon, the likelihood that you will be admitted to AMP or that you will receive a peace bond will be reduced due to the increased seriousness of the offence. If you hope to have your charges withdrawn, it is in your best interest to pursue anger management counselling or perhaps volunteer in the community immediately following the offence. Taking the initiative to engage in these types of activities is instrumental when trying to obtain a favourable resolution from the Crown. Enrolling in counselling and volunteering, or doing other activities like writing apology letters can show that you are motivated to rehabilitate yourself, and will lend support to the position that you may be a good candidate for AMP or for a peace bond.
Unfortunately, if you have been charged with aggravated assault, due to the extremely serious nature of this offence you will not be eligible for a diversion program.
Avoid a Criminal Record with a Discharge:
If you are not a suitable candidate for a diversion program, your defence lawyer can also try to persuade the prosecutor to join them in an application for a discharge. A discharge is a sentencing option that will allow you to avoid a criminal after you have plead guilty to the offence. If a discharge is successfully obtained, you will not be criminally convicted of the offence notwithstanding the fact that you have pled guilty. Rather, if you receive an absolute discharge, you will be immediately and permanently discharged from the offence. If you receive a conditional discharge, you will be required to comply with conditions stipulated by the court for a specified period of time. If you successfully comply with the conditions, you will be permanently discharged of the offence.
Other Sentencing Options:
If you are facing a conviction for aggravated assault, due to the extremely serious nature of the offence you will not be eligible for any resolutions that will allow you to avoid a criminal record, like peace bonds, diversion, or a discharge. It could also be the case that you are not eligible for diversion, or are an unlikely candidate for a discharge due to a pre-existing criminal record or the presence of aggravating factors in your case. In such a circumstance, it may still be worthwhile canvassing possible pre-trial resolutions with the Crown, particularly when the evidence against you is very strong. By reaching a pre-trial agreement with the Crown and by entering an early guilty plea, you might be able to secure a more favourable sentence than if you run a full trial and are found guilty of the offence. If you are likely facing jail time in the event of conviction, it may be particularly beneficial to have your lawyer negotiate a proposed sentence with the Crown prior to trial as this may help you avoid time spent in jail.
For example, some potential sentences that may be more desirable than a period of incarceration include a fine and probation, allowing you to serve your time in prison intermittently (i.e. on the weekend), or allowing you to avoid prison with a suspended sentence. A suspended sentence is very much like a conditional discharge in the sense that you will be required to obey conditions set by the court for a period of time, but unlike a conditional discharge you will be convicted of the offence.
No matter what type of assault charges you are currently facing, you should contact one of our criminal defence lawyers immediately. We have ample experience dealing with a range of assault charges and have been able to secure our clients favourable resolutions in some extremely serious cases. After reviewing the evidence with you in detail, we will speak to the Crown Prosecutor on your behalf and canvass all potential resolution options. This way, we will be able to ensure that you are aware of all your options and able to make an informed decision with respect to how you can best proceed with your charges.