Nothing motivates me more than meeting a client who has been falsely accused of domestic assault. I never appreciated the prejudicial position of those falsely accused until I became a criminal defence lawyer. As a woman who had never been abused, living in a society where those charged are judged in the court of public opinion before the justice system, I, like many others, assumed those accused were always guilty. Then I met my clients. I met man after man who had become the victim of an unfair system that had turned against them. One thing they always had in common was either before or after being charged; their accuser darted to the Family Court to see what advantage they would have over their now discredited ex-spouse.

Sometimes the criminal charge came after the accuser began family court proceedings and was not getting the results they wanted. In many cases, once I began guiding my client through the criminal system, shortly after the accuser would begin an action in family court knowing the disadvantaged position they had placed the client in. I have even had clients where both the charge and the family law action came on the same day. In every case, the criminal charge is brought as a ploy to win big in the Family Court.

After a domestic charge is laid, the client is stuck between a rock and a hard place. According to the criminal justice system, they become a criminal of the lowest kind, the kind who destroys families. Because of this, they must be placed under conditions that force them to stay away from their spouse and in some cases their children. Similarly, the family law system recognizes that spouses and children require urgent protection from domestic violence. For the client, there are immediate consequences in both the criminal and family courts:

Criminal Conditions are immediate. Once arrested, in order to be released from custody the client will need to agree to a release order that instantaneously places them under restrictive conditions. In almost every case the client will not be allowed to go to the family home, even to pick up their personal belongings. It does not matter if their name is on the mortgage or lease or if they are required to continue their financial obligations for the property. In some cases, they will not be allowed to see their children, even if they share joint custody. Under no circumstances will they be allowed to communicate with or see their spouse, not even to ask why they have made the accusation. If the client does not agree to abide by these conditions they will be forced to stay in custody until release, likely at a provincial institution such as the Elgin Middlesex Detention Center.

Your reputation is ruined. A large portion of Family Court proceedings, including child custody, is determined by character evidence. This is the reason why family Court cases sometimes end up resembling a mud slinging competition. Each side uses whatever bad character evidence they can dig up to bolster their position as the “good guy.” Evidence of domestic violence can be like striking gold for the accuser. They can use the accusation to show why deserve less than them. Less money, less property and less time with your kids.

Temporary family Court orders can be made to establish how the separation can be dealt with for the time being. Anything from spousal and child support to custody to who lives in the family home can be determined temporarily as the criminal and family matters move through the Court system. Once these temporary orders have been established, it becomes difficult to reverse them as the Court now views this arrangement as the status quo.

One thing all clients caught up between the wrath of the criminal justice system and the demands of the family law system need is a lawyer who understands what you have to lose in both Courts. A good criminal lawyer can expose the lies and bad motivations of the accuser. These actions are necessary to clear the name of the client. This same evidence becomes crucial in exposing the true character of the accuser to the Family Court.

You need a lawyer who knows the risks you face in both the criminal and Family Court systems. Feel free to contact me if you find yourself in need of advice.

Jennesa Plaine

(519) 657-1LAW (1529) or