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Domestic Violence

COVID-19 and Domestic Violence

Has domestic violence risen during the COVID-19 pandemic? This is a question on the minds of many researchers. Early indications suggest that it has. And with the pandemic not yet over, we anticipate that domestic violence allegations will continue to run ahead of where they were pre-pandemic.

According to one research paper, domestic violence against women increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as governments around the country responded by issuing lockdown orders. A shelter in Manitoba called domestic violence and sexual assault “shadow pandemics.” With no exit, many couples began squabbling, which allegedly led to an uptick in divorce in Canada.

Alcohol abuse has been another problem during the pandemic. According to Hopkins Medicine, being cooped up in a home can lead to an increase in alcohol consumption. Someone who is intoxicated is more likely to strike out in anger when fighting.

At N.J. Preovolos Law Corporation, we received many calls from people accused of domestic violence during the pandemic. These cases raise complicated legal issues for our clients, which we walk through below. 

False Allegations are More Likely During a Pandemic

Just as lockdowns can lead to more violence between family members, lockdowns can also contribute to more false allegations. In our experience, false allegations are often made when couples are fighting. Tensions rise and one spouse makes a frivolous accusation of the other—perhaps with the hope of getting him or her kicked out of the house.

Another trigger for false allegations is divorce. When one spouse files for divorce, suddenly an allegation of domestic violence is made because one person hopes to gain strategic advantage. In particular, one parent hopes to get custody of the children by accusing the other of violence.

At our firm, we don’t automatically assume an accusation is true. Instead, we listen to clients describe what happened.

Being Kicked Out of Your Home is Difficult

The pandemic has frozen business activity from coast to coast, with many workers still stuck at home. It has also pinched the housing market. If you are kicked out of your home due to a domestic violence allegation, then finding a place to stay could be a tall challenge.

British Columbia responded to the pandemic by freezing evictions—a reasonable choice to protect those currently housed. But the ban has had the predictable effect of limiting the number of new apartments that came onto the market. Someone needing a place to stay, therefore, has had fewer options to choose from.

Contacting an Attorney is Essential

Responding to domestic violence allegations is complex during even normal times. But COVID has added an extra layer of difficulty.

For example, to fight a restraining order, your attorney might need to interview witnesses and visit your home. The pandemic has made that more difficult. Many people are hesitant to visit a lawyer’s office for an interview. And the pandemic gives your partner one more reason to try and block your lawyer’s admission into your home.

If you are facing domestic violence allegations, contact our office today.

How to Report Domestic Violence

woman crying

If you or someone you know has been involved in domestic violence, know that you are not alone. 85% of victims of domestic violence are women. However, men, children, and elderly family members can also be domestic violence victims.

The saddest part about domestic violence cases is victims adopt enduring habits, delaying their justice. Most cases go unreported due to fear of offenders subjecting the victims to more physical or psychological harm. Fortunately, the laws governing domestic violence are keen on vindicating the victims rather than whisking them away. If you are a victim or facing domestic violence charges, we are here to help.

What is domestic violence?

Your New Westminster criminal defence lawyer understands domestic violence as any act that causes either physical or psychological harm from one family member to another. It can be the case of a husband inflicting bodily harm on his wife or vice versa. It can also be a parent causing physical harm or displaying controlling behaviors on their children or vice versa.

For a person to file a domestic violence lawsuit, the charges may be based on their injuries’ seriousness. It can also apply if a minor was present and whether the offender breaches the restraining order. Domestic violence can involve many acts, including shoving, spanking, and stalking. In addition, if your partner is subjecting you to financial or sexual abuse, you can also file a domestic violence lawsuit against them.  If you or your loved one is facing domestic violence, be sure to get in touch with a domestic violence lawyer in New Westminster, BC, immediately for further advice or legal representation.

Steps to take when reporting domestic violence or abuse

Whether you are a first-time victim of domestic violence or have been enduring it for months or years, here is how to report your case:

Step 1: Make a formal report with the police

Whether your partner, parent, or child inflicts physical or psychological harm on you, the first person you should contact is the police. While there, the in-charge police officer will take your statement. A law enforcement officer may ask you specific questions to understand the nature of your relationship with your abuser and your living situation.

If you have been injured, you will be required to obtain a medical assessment form detailing the nature of your injuries. If the injury shows after your statement, go back to them to take pictures to be used in court. They will also refer you to domestic violence advisor depending on your needs. Filing a formal complaint with the police involves explaining how a support system can assist before and during court proceedings.

Step 2: Get a medical report

A doctor’s report is essential when filing a domestic violence lawsuit because it shows the severity of your injury and your pain and suffering. Your doctor will conduct exams or run tests to determine how much bodily harm your abuser caused and file a report. A doctor’s report can also come in handy if your injury or emotional trauma has weighed down your economic ability.

Step 3: Contact a domestic violence lawyer

Going by attorneys’ views on domestic violence defense cases, it is not surprising that undergoing court processes and winning a case can be stressful and emotionally testing. From the rigorous paperwork, alienation from family members to being put under witness protection, the emotional trauma of reporting domestic violence can be intense. However, withdrawing a lawsuit against your abuser might not do much in stopping them from abusing you or erasing the injuries you sustained during the ordeal.

As is expected of most criminal or civil cases, evidence and legal representation are essential. Winning a favorable outcome on a domestic violence case depends on the skills of your legal representation. Here is how to navigate your domestic violence case:

1.  Get legal representation from an experienced domestic violence lawyer

Getting through a domestic violence case can be disheartening, considering the emotional trauma that comes with it. Fortunately, finding an experienced domestic violence attorney can make the journey to find justice become bearable than going it alone. Considering the amount of work and time such cases may take, it would be best to have a lawyer resolve it as quickly as possible.

2.  Avoid breaching the teams of any criminal orders of protection

Your attorney will take you through the terms of criminal protection orders to ensure you get the justice you need. If it states that you should avoid communicating with the offender, ensure you abide by it. Doing the opposite may attract a felony charge that may complicate your case, delaying justice.

3.  Keep a low profile

The last thing you can do to complicate your domestic violence case is getting arrested or arraigned in court for another offense. While getting in trouble with the law might work to your disadvantage, maintaining a low-key profile is the only way to win your case. Your case might take 12-24 months, which is why you need to avoid any incident that may affect a favorable resolution of your case.

Step 4: Seek mental support

Besides going for medical checkups, ensuring your mental health is in check should be your top priority. Remember, domestic violence does not only involve physical harm. It also affects your mental state. As you pursue your case, go for counseling or mental therapy. That way, you will not have to deal with mental illnesses such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety.

Let us fight for justice on your behalf

N.J, Preovolos Law Corporation, we strive to help our clients get the justice they deserve. Armed with the best of Vancouver’s refined criminal defense lawyers, we ensure that our clients get through their domestic cases stress-free. Whether you are a victim or have been arrested for domestic violence, we will try our best to protect your rights. From paperwork to following up on your case in court, we do not leave any stone unturned. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation, and fully confidential consultation.

What Happens When You Get Charged with Domestic Violence in British Columbia

There is no justification for domestic violence. It degrades the victim’s Human Rights, shatters the dreams of a family and denies children the opportunity to have both a male and female role models from an early stage. Domestic violence includes all forms of aggressive behavior in a relationship that intimidates and controls a spouse or partner. The vice can occur long after a relationship is over.

British Columbia police and prosecutors have zero tolerance for domestic violence. Below, we look at what happens when you get charged with domestic violence in British Columbia.

Not Guilty Pleas and Defences

If you take a no guilty plea, your case will go on trial within 3-4 months. Upon your instruction, when the case is at the arraignment hearing, it will enter a not guilty plea to help obtain trial confirmation and hearing dates. Your criminal lawyer in Vancouver may invoke self-defence, defence of property or defence of others to convince the court that you are not guilty. Domestic violence charges revolve around establishing credibility between the plaintiff and the accused person’s versions of what happened. We are experienced in advancing these defences to help you get an acquittal in the courts. 

Peace Bond

At times, you and your partner may decide that criminal proceedings are not the best way to solve domestic violence and request a peace bond. A peace bond is a document showing that you agree that the plaintiff had reasonable grounds to fear for their life and personal property due to your actions. It does not indicate the admission of assault by the defendant. Your lawyer will discuss with the prosecutor to help avoid admitting things you prefer not to directly reveal under section 810 of the Criminal Code, to help avoid a Criminal plea. Failure to adhere to the Peace Bond condition makes you liable to charges of a breach under section 811 and can result in a criminal record. 

What Happens if Found Guilty?

If you plead or are found guilty of domestic violence, a sentence hearing will take place. The Crown Prosecutor and your defence lawyer make final submissions about what is your deserved sentence. The judge will decide on the best way to rehabilitate you based on several factors including whether you are a first-time or repeat offender and the extent of violence among others. The sentence may include:

A fine: This is to be paid within a specified time. Failure to pay before the lapse of time can make you unable to renew your driving license or land you in custody.  

Probation: You may be required to be reporting to a Probation Officer several times a week. Other conditions might include:

·       Enroll for anger management program

·       Enroll in a drug and substance treatment program

·       Stop using drugs and alcohol

·       Being barred from being in certain places and contacting the plaintiff

Custodial Sentence: In the unfortunate case, you may have to serve time in a provincial correctional center or a federal prison.

Why Contact Us?

At N.J. Preovolos Law Corporation, we can deal with domestic violence cases to help you avoid a criminal conviction. If you are facing domestic violence charges, visit us today to have our experienced Vancouver domestic violence lawyer handle your case.