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When a youth is the one charged with domestic assault

A criminal charge can not only have a negative impact on the individual charged; the arrest may also result in unforeseen consequences for the defendant's family, especially if the charge arises from a domestic dispute.

Mental health resources, addiction counselling and support agencies are available to families who are having difficulties at home, but often these resources are not utilized or simply don't have the desired effect. In some cases, a child's behaviour at home is at the centre of the dispute, and parents feel unable to deal with the situation and finally call police. 

This decision to seek police intervention is immensely difficult, as parents simply want the behaviour to stop, but they don't want their child to be arrested and charged. However, if the police arrive on the scene and suspect that a crime has occurred, then the child's arrest may be inevitable, even if the parents say they don't want their child to face charges.

Young people often don't see altercations with family members or friends as anything illegal, yet an officer of the law may see the incident as an assault. In other cases, the parent has already bailed the child out of jail once before and has thus become responsible for ensuring that the child behaves properly and appears in court. The parent may then be obliged to call police again if the child violates the bail terms.

When a family in Toronto encounters such an extremely difficult situation, it is important to have experienced legal counsel with knowledge of Ontario's criminal justice system. With the right legal help and family support, it may be possible to set the family on the path to a brighter future.

A recent article in the Toronto Star has more on the difficult decisions parents sometimes have to make when their children's behaviour becomes too much to handle.