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Toronto Assault Charges Lawyer

Children's Aid Society (CAS) investigations in criminal cases

My children were present when I was charged with assault, utter threats, or mischief. Will the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) get involved? What is going to happen next and how can I see my child?

When an alleged domestic violence offence occurs in front of or in the presence of a child, there are two issues that will impact both the accused and their family:
  1. The Police will make a referral to the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) who will investigate and may take steps to control access, apprehend, or otherwise restrict one or both parents’ access to their children.

  2. The Crown Attorney who is prosecuting the criminal file will seek a higher degree of punishment for the accused because it is seen as an aggravating factor (something that makes the offence more serious) that the children witnessed the alleged crime.
What does “in front of a child mean”?

Generally speaking, it means that at least one youth (under age 18) directly witnessed the assaultive event, was in the same room when it happened, or was generally in possible view or earshot of it. If the child is in another room with the door closed, this will normally not aggravate the criminal case however CAS will likely still be called to open a file and investigate. If the child is in the same room or actually watches or sees it happen that will definitely attract additional scrutiny and harsher case treatment.

What if a child is a baby, infant, etc. who is too young to remember? Why should this cause the Crown to see my actions as more egregious?

From the Crown Attorney’s perspective it usually does not matter whether the child is a two month old or a 12 year old. Both are in front of a child and aggravating even if the former would have no memory of it whatsoever.

What is the logic behind this?

If the Crown’s reasoning is that the alleged criminal activity also psychologically victimized the child with disturbing memories this seems to make no sense if the child is too young to remember it. Perhaps one may also reason or believe the incident could negatively impact the child’s psychological development even if they can’t specifically remember it.

An argument could also be made that the Crown considers alleged domestic offences occurring in front of babies, infants, or very young children as aggravating as a general public safety issue. From their cautious perspective, if a moment is heated and assaultive actions or words are taking place, the child may be unfairly placed in an environment that is potentially unsafe as a result of the alleged criminal activity.

In a general sense, adults are expected to be on their best behaviour in front of children in our society. While there is some merit in viewing offences occurring in front of children as more serious, in some cases the extent to which this is used by Canadian prosecutors to ask for more punitive sentences is too generalized and sometimes misguided in our opinion.

The scope of a CAS investigation: Will they take away my kids?

The level of intrusion from CAS can range from a social worker's phone call to ask if everything is okay to apprehending the children and applying to the courts to relocate them to a foster family. In the middle range it can include regular home visits, interviews, living restrictions, and access restrictions for the parent to only have visitation with the child when supervised by an agreed upon third party or at one of their access centers.

Sometimes the children are placed in custody at a CAS housing center. Our clients have described some CAS housing centers as being similar to a jail – cold, rigid in their policies, and for some of those being housed, effectively locked in and unable to leave on their own volition.

CAS wants to interview me about the incident

The accused will often be asked to talk to CAS before being able to see their child again. This puts the defendant in a difficult position because, on the one hand, they want to reunite with their children, but they also do not want to say something incriminating that may harm their case.

While expressing a wish to communicate with and see your child is one thing, making incriminating statements to someone who could be subpoenaed to court to testify against you is never in the best interest of a defendant. Social workers who work for CAS routinely testify for the prosecution in criminal cases.

Can CAS themselves force me to separate from my spouse?

CAS cannot directly force couples apart but they can take the position that if the two partners continue to live together, communicate, see each other, etc. they will apprehend the child/children (and possibly ask to have them be relocated to a foster family). If they feel that the couples' arguments, fighting, and other issues are a possible harm to the child(ren) they can issue this ultimatum. Of course, the courts have the ultimate say on these issues but cases take a long time to go through the system leaving the family/children displaced in the meantime (perhaps in the custody of CAS).

In criminal cases, 99% of the time the couple is forced apart at least temporarily by the release conditions anyway so this becomes less of a concern. Just like the police, CAS will always have the ability to intervene and exert tremendous power over the family of the accused though their discretion is ultimately subject to court oversight. As mentioned, similar to the police who have the power to press charges and hold those accused in custody before the courts rule on a case, CAS has the power to take the kids away immediately long before a judge sees the case even if this intervention ultimately results to be a temporary condition.

My wife did not want any of this to happen when she called the police? How can we quickly fix this?

You can’t because the criminal justice system does not work this way in Canada. It is not determinative that your wife wants the charges dropped and for you to go back home. It is the Government that is charging you, not your wife. Similarly, it is the Government legislated social workers from Children’s Aid that have the discretionary power into your children’s lives, not you or your wife.

This entire process seems ridiculously heavy handed and I keep being fed false hope and misinformation by people whose jobs are paid for by the Government.

Make no mistake about it, the criminal justice system and peripheral bodies such as CAS are a huge industry in Canada funded by Government money. When charges are laid, your life instantly becomes a statistic. You will inevitably deal with person after person who is seemingly apathetic to the situation your family has been put in - it is all just business as usual for them.

Most Canadians don’t realize how easy it is to wind up where you are right now. For this reason, they do not think about it or care until they personally experience it. There is very little public pressure to make changes. In fact, policies are becoming harsher as Police are now directed to use virtually no discretion and criminally charge everyone in domestic violence cases regardless of how minor the accusation is. Similar zero tolerance policies are in place at the Crown Attorney level as well.

Please see our article on first time domestic charges for more information about the criminal justice system in Canada.

Call us today for a free assessment

You don't have to jeopardize your future or waste thousands of dollars on excessive legal fees. Our goal is to have the charges withdrawn and the release conditions varied to allow contact without a risky and unnecessary trial. We provide effective and affordable lawyer representation for those charged throughout all of Ontario, Canada.

You don't need to be apart from your spouse and family, spend tens of thousands of dollars, and risk getting a criminal record because of an unfortunate domestic incident. Have a skilled criminal lawyer protect you and your future from the stigma and consequences of a criminal record.

    call us: 647-228-5969


  call us: 647-228-5969


Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. For more information about our lawyer, click here.

We provide our clients with:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • US travel advice and information
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Clear goals of getting charges dropped and bail conditions varied without a trial
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are the alleged victim, and are looking to help your spouse/partner's case, please see our affidavit services page here.

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance with U.S. travel, immigration, employment background checks, and avoiding a criminal record. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed. We also only take calls/emails relating to Ontario, Canada area cases.

Are you a lawyer? If you are defending a domestic assault/uttering threats/mischief related case and are looking for expert advice regarding possible defences, case strategies, and information release management call us at: 647-228-5969.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only.


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  We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel