Domestic assault with a weapon

  1. What is Domestic Assault with a Weapon in Canada?
  2. Statistics and Trends for Domestic Violence in Ontario
  3. Legal Process and Domestic Violence Court Procedures
  4. Legal Defences in Domestic Assault Cases
  5. Consequences of Conviction for Domestic Violence
  6. Resources and Support for Those Involved in Domestic Violence in Newmarket

Recognizing a worrisome increase in domestic assault crime rates, the Regional Municipality of York has declared intimate partner violence an epidemic in the region, including the Newmarket. Given the heightened attention by police, prosecution, courts and the public to the problem, anyone involved in a domestic violence case is advised to contact an experienced Newmarket criminal lawyer for assistance. Below is an overview of the domestic violence laws in Ontario, the situation in Newmarket and further information on your legal options.

What is Domestic Assault with a Weapon in Canada?

The Criminal Code of Canada does not have a specific definition for domestic assault. In Section 265, the criminal law defines an assault broadly as the intentional application of force against another person without that person’s consent. According to Section 718.2, the abuse of the offender’s intimate partner or member of the family is considered an aggravating factor.

Meanwhile, anything used or designed to cause death or injury to another person, or used or intended for threatening or intimidating, is considered a weapon. In this context, anything, including dishes, cutlery, appliances or even a pillow, can be considered a weapon if used as described by the assault with weapon laws in Ontario. Unsurprisingly, many domestic violence cases involving such objects result in charges of domestic assault with a weapon.

Statistics and Trends for Domestic Violence in Ontario

Statistical data show a large increase in intimate partner violence rates starting from 2015, with a plateau in 2022, with a continued trajectory of growth until this moment. Unfortunately, 1% of reported victims were involved in firearm-related incidents, which naturally pose more serious harm than other cases of domestic violence.

With 6,228 domestic assault incidents in 2022, including 3 deaths, the York Region declared intimate partner violence (IPV) an epidemic within its borders, including Newmarket. Following the lead, a group of legislators offered to consider domestic abuse as an epidemic in the whole of Ontario, introducing the Intimate Partner Violence Epidemic Act, 2024. The Act is expected to implement additional measures to prevent IPV, including intervention orders, victim assistance orders, and enhancing support and resources for those affected. 

Legal Process and Domestic Violence Court Procedures

Following zero-tolerance policies for family violence involving assault with a weapon in Newmarket, the police will immediately arrest someone reported on this offence through a 911 call. Even if the complainant changes their mind and decides to withdraw, it is fully up to the police to decide whether to proceed with the charges.

When someone is arrested for family violence, they can be kept in custody until the bail hearing. In cases involving domestic violence in Newmarket, the bail conditions can include stricter terms, such as vacating the marital home even if holding title or lease, having no contact with the complainant and other restrictions.

Before the trial, the offender will have to attend pretrial appearances, including a Crown pretrial and Judicial pretrial, with an option to avoid personal presence by retaining a lawyer for domestic assault. In addition to appearing during pretrial sessions on the client’s behalf, the lawyer would help make a strategic choice of the mode of trial for the indictment process, including the provincial court, Superior Court by judge alone or by jury.

Legal Defences in Domestic Assault Cases

All criminal cases involving domestic assault are case-specific, and the best legal defence strategy is always adapted to the client’s circumstances. Still, there are common defences to these charges, which are often used in court.

  • Factual innocence. In defending against domestic violence accusations involving gun charges, the lawyer would make sure the Crown discharges its onus and would raise a reasonable doubt on the offence. This would include, but is not limited to, cross-examining the victim’s testimony, evaluation of the alleged weapon, examination of injuries and all other elements of the Crown’s case.
  • Self-defence. Depending on the situation, the lawyer can claim that their client acted in self-defence, provided their actions were reasonable under the circumstances. When reviewing this argument, the courts would consider the gender and physical capabilities of the offender and the victim, the type of alleged threat, the presence of provocations and whether any weapon was used during the altercation.

Consequences of Conviction for Domestic Violence

Since domestic assault with a weapon is an aggravated offence, the Crown may choose to proceed either summarily or by indictment. In Ontario, the penalties for assault with a weapon against a family member can amount to imprisonment for up to 10 years for an indictment conviction and up to two years less a day and/or a fine of $5,000 for a summary conviction.

While imprisonment is a harsh punishment on its own, the conviction for domestic violence with a weapon is followed by a weapon prohibition order. Also, in more serious cases, a judge may issue a DNA order to have the offender’s sample in the National DNA Data Bank. A criminal record for this offence can be particularly stigmatizing, making someone inadmissible for travel in some jurisdictions, including the United States. 

Resources and Support for Those Involved in Domestic Violence in Newmarket

Viewing domestic violence as an epidemic, the government has made various resources available for those accused of this offence and the victims as well.

When someone faces any issues with domestic assault laws in Ontario, they have a number of options for obtaining legal help. In most cases, one of the best alternatives is to turn to an experienced criminal lawyer to develop a unique and personalized defence. Other opportunities include applying for pro bono (free) legal services from organizations such as Legal Aid Ontario and Pro Bono Law Ontario if your financial situation does not allow to choose and hire a lawyer yourself.

There are multiple organizations working with police to help victims of domestic violence in Newmarket and Ontario. The Canadian government offers various resources for victims of family violence on its official website as well as via the Victim Services Directory (VSD).


Considering a broad definition of weapons in Canada and zero tolerance policies towards crimes in domestic setting, anyone facing domestic violence penalties in Ontario aggravated by the use of weapons is advised to reach out for legal assistance. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Vilkhov Laws’ criminal lawyer in Newmarket for a free consultation on your legal options.

By |2024-06-03T08:40:38+00:00June 3rd, 2024|Criminal Defence, Domestic Assault|

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