Abuse Is Wrong In Any Culture: for First Nations and Métis people

What happens if the police charge the person being abusive?

Arresting someone who is being abusive can stop them from re-offending, at least for a short time. Perhaps your partner does not know that their behaviour is a crime. An arrest can show them that the police are there to uphold the law and that they should take responsibility for what they have been doing. People who abuse others must understand that violent behaviour is never acceptable.

Being arrested does not always lead to charges, but if there are charges, legal procedures are followed to prosecute the person for assaulting you. The process may vary somewhat in each province or territory, but it is basically the same.

You may still not be safe, or protected in the long-term, so you must keep thinking carefully about how to improve your and your children's safety. It is better for you and for your children to live in a home free from domestic violence. There is help available to make the changes you need to live without abuse and violence.

If the person who is being abusive pleads guilty to, or is found guilty of, assaulting you or your children, the court will sentence them. The sentence may be a fine, probation, time in jail, or a combination of these things. The person who is being abusive may have to get counselling as part of probation.

Whether the person gets jail time or not will depend on a number of things such as whether or not this is a first offence and how bad the abuse was. If you are afraid, tell the Crown Attorney or the victim services worker. The court can set conditions on their release, such as not contacting you. Or, if you're afraid jail will mean that you and your family have no food, then the court may agree to another punishment, such as having the person spend time working for the community.

If the person who is being abusive says they are not guilty, you will have to be a witness at the trial. You may be allowed to provide your testimony from behind a screen or from another room by closed-circuit television so that you do not have to see your abuser while you tell your story. You may also be able to have a support person near you, to make you more comfortable while you testify.

It may be several months before the trial starts. If the court finds the person who hurt you guilty, they will be sentenced. The Crown Attorney can tell you about victim services in your province or territory and he/she can help you and explain the court processes.

If the person being abusive is found guilty by the court, they may be ordered to serve their sentence in the community under a "Community Sentence Order", sometimes called "house arrest". The judge can include many conditions in the order to help you and your children stay safe, such as that the person keep the peace, not drink or use drugs, stay in their residence and not call or see you. Ask the Crown Attorney and victim services worker before the trial starts what can be done.

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