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Domestic violence court is not cruel and unusual punishment

Readers may be aware that in Ontario, there is a special court in which domestic violence matters may be handled. The court is specifically designed to address domestic violence allegations between intimate partners. Other cases of this nature, involving people who do not fit that definition, are heard in a criminal court.

Recently, a man who was charged with bail breach after he allegedly violated specifications that he was to stay away from the home of his son’s mother, alleged that having his case in that court violated his rights and caused him distress. The man was on bail after being charged with assaulting his son.

Because the initial assault allegation involved the man’s son, and not his romantic partner, the case’s assignment to the domestic violence court was incorrect. After the case was transferred to criminal court, the man proved that prior to going to the house he informed police he was going to get some of his things, and he was acquitted of the charges.

In his claim the man alleged the name of the domestic violence court was cruel and unusual treatment and inflicted “serious-state imposed psychological harm.” He also claimed it was discriminatory and that appearing in that court caused him to feel "intimidated, disadvantaged and stigmatized." As evidence he offered a psychologist’s expert report that his feelings were consistent with the feelings other people accused or convicted of crimes felt.

While the man was unsuccessful in his case, it highlights just one other way in which the ways in which criminal charges can impact the lives of those accused.

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