PEI Defence Lawyers / Defence Attorneys

Lecky Quinn defends Prince Edward Island residents charged with offences such as assaults, threats, mischief, and so forth, from minor to very serious charges. Our goal is to:

1. Negotiate and reach a resolution with the Crown Attorney if possible and have release conditions (bail or undertaking) allowing the accused to communicate and live with their domestic partner again (in the case of a domestic accusation);

2. Avoid a criminal record through trial, a withdrawal of the charges, or in some cases an absolute or conditional discharge;

3. Mitigate the criminal liability our clients face.

P.E.I.’s zero tolerance domestic violence policies have led to devastating criminal charges for extremely minor assaults, threats, and property damage accusations (mischief). Generally speaking, P.E.I. police authorities will respond to 911 or domestic calls with zero tolerance, however minor. They will generally arrest and charge one individual and apply on that individual’s behalf for an Emergency Protection Order prohibiting the accused from attending at their own residence and often, from having access to their own child or children. Police are required to charge one or both parties if any statements are made that could support a conviction at trial regardless of how minor the circumstances may be.

Charges not only put the accused at risk of getting criminal record (along with penalties of jail, job loss, and travel limitations), it also, if the relationship is breaking down, could have an adverse effect on Family Law proceedings.

If the accused is ultimately found or pleads guilty to domestic criminal charges, they potentially face severe consequences, including:

1. loss of employment and loss of future employment opportunities;

2. court orders preventing contact with their spouse (or going home) for years;

3. fines;

4. probation;

5. being sent to jail or a federal penitentiary;

6. being subject to house arrest (conditional sentence);

7. denials of immigration, permanent residence, and citizenship applications;

8. being deemed unqualified for membership into certain professional societies and designations due to behaviour that is considered "conduct unbecoming";

9. being refused careers in law enforcement in the future such as policing, customs, and more;

10. being put on conditions that require them not to consume alcohol, go to certain places, and force them to abide by other restrictive conditions;

11. being refused the ability to travel to the United States, the UK, Australia, the European Union, and other countries/regions;

12. living with the social stigma and the label of a criminal record and conviction;

13. the possibility of their conviction and case being reported publicly in the media;

14. having their arrest information being stored and shared by the RCMP with US customs and other law enforcement agencies;

15. having the arrest information automatically show up on vulnerable sector checks, police information checks and other background records screenings in the future (regardless of the disposition or result or their case).

The Accusation

The accusation or alleged crime is often extremely minor in domestic cases. Many domestic charges in Prince Edward Island result from one partner telling the police the other partner made contact with them, said something to them, or damaged their (or matrimonial) property in a relatively minor way. Domestic charges of assault, utter threats, and mischief, often result from relatively minor circumstances, such as:

1. a push or shove;

2. hair pulling;

3. a slap to the face or other area;

4. grabbing or twisting an arm;

5. a punch or swipe to a leg, arm, or other non-threatening area;

6. participating in a scuff;

7. uttering a threatening remark;

8. threatening to damage property of the complainant or matrimonial property;

9. physically breaking a door, window, phone, remote control, or damaging other property in anger;

10. choking, attempts to choke, suffocate or strangle (s. 246) - this is often a more serious charge.

These incidents, while regrettable, often result in no injuries whatsoever. They arise from situations of intoxication, flared emotions, or other temporary lapses in judgment. The victim calls 911 hoping the police will help resolve the dispute or mediate the situation without knowing the extreme consequences the relationship will face for years to come.

While it is easy to have someone charged with a domestic offence, getting the charges dropped is far more difficult and time consuming. Fortunately, in relatively minor cases where the victim is agreeable, it is often possible to persuade the Crown Attorney’s office to vary the release conditions to allow contact and resolve the case without a criminal conviction and a criminal record.

Is it possible for any domestic case to be dropped by the Crown and the release conditions varied to allow contact again? Of course not. Some cases are too serious for the Crown to consider such deals unless there is no realistic prospect of conviction whatsoever. In cases that involve a weapon, a lengthy history of alleged abuse, prior records, substantial injuries, or other aggravating factors, such deals are far more difficult (or impossible) to make.

What about cases where my spouse is lying, exaggerating or attempting to manipulate the system to punish me? Those cases generally go to trial if we can’t negotiate a favorable resolution for our P.E.I. clients. You’ll rest assured knowing that our lawyers are ready to go to trial at the drop of a dime, if in our clients’ best interests.

While every case is different, we are normally able to give you a realistic assessment over the phone.

We take a pragmatic approach to every one of our domestic cases. It is often in our clients’ best interest to avoid extremely expensive, risky, and time consuming criminal litigation. Our clients hire us because they want to do everything possible to obtain a resolution that guarantees everything is being done to minimize any criminal liability.

Call us today to book an appointment.