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Are domestic violence programs working in Ontario?

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When most people are accused of committing a crime, they want to do anything they can to have the charges dismissed or reduced. When this is not possible, an acquittal is generally sought. Even when someone is convicted of a crime however, there may be things that individual can do to minimize the severity of the penalty.

Where domestic violence is concerned in Ontario, there is a program that some offenders could find they are ordered to take part in. Overseen by the Ministry of the Attorney General, Partner Assault Response programs are an alternative to trial for less-violent or first-time offenders. In other situations, offenders considered high risk or dangerous, who have been convicted, might end up a program such as this one as a condition of probation.

As a part of the program, individuals participate in group counselling sessions. Participants could find that they are released from the program early via a peace bond or via a conditional discharge.

Some organizations that are active with victims of domestic abuse recently expressed displeasure with the program. Specifically, some took issue with the fact that after a domestic violence conviction, the accused are allowed to return home to the individuals they are accused of abusing in the first place.

Victim advocates allege that it is easy for the accused to fall into old habits and inflict harm up others living in the house. In addition, until recently, they claim that a study regarding the effectiveness of the program has not been done. According to the executive director of the Women Abuse Council of Toronto, research they did indicated the program may not protect victims.

Domestic violence charges are taken seriously in Toronto and even an accusation can dramatically change the life of the accused. Accordingly, anyone facing a domestic violence accusation should take prompt action to try to minimize the impact of the accusation. Working with a criminal defence lawyer is generally the best way to do this.

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