1. Find out what you’ve been charged with

Different types of crimes can happen in partner abuse cases. You can be charged with one or more crimes.

The police tell you what they're charging you with. If you don't understand, ask them to explain in a way that you understand. If English is not your first language, you can ask for an interpreter.

If you do not have a lawyer, you can talk with before your .

If you also have a family court case, you need to tell your family law lawyer or the family court about any conditions you have to follow as part of your criminal case. It is important that your family court orders and criminal court orders don't say different things.

For example, your family may say you can go to your partner's home to pick up the children for , which used to be called . But if you later get a criminal court order that says that you cannot come within 100 meters of your partner's home as part of your bail conditions, then the orders conflict because they both say different things. You cannot go to your partner's home because of the bail conditions even though the family court order said you could. This means either your parenting time arrangements need to be changed in family court, or your bail conditions need to be changed in criminal court.


Assault is when one person applies force to another person, or attempts or threatens to apply force to them without their consent. Assault is a crime even if your partner is not hurt, and sometimes even if they were not actually touched. An assault can happen when you:

  • threaten your partner with violence
  • slap them
  • shove them
  • kick them
  • punch them
  • stab them

Depending on what happened, you might be charged with “assault”, “assault with a weapon”, “assault causing bodily harm”, or “aggravated assault”.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is a sexual act or touch that your partner does not consent to. It is a crime even if they're not physically hurt. Sexual assault can include:

  • an unwanted kiss
  • an unwanted sexual touch
  • forced penetration (rape)
  • threats to force them to do any of these things

Being does not give you the right to sexually assault your partner.

Depending on what happened, you might be charged with “sexual assault”, “sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third or causing bodily harm”, or “aggravated sexual assault”.

Other charges

If you forced your partner to stay somewhere by threatening them or physically stopping them from leaving, you might be charged with “forcible confinement”.

If you threatened your partner, you might be charged with “uttering threats”.

“Criminal harassment” is also a common charge in partner abuse cases. Criminal harassment includes things like stalking, harassing phone calls, or unwanted visits to your partner's home or workplace.

Stalking is when someone has a reasonable fear for their safety because the other person does one or more of the following:

  • watches and follows them
  • damages their property
  • tries to contact them when they don't want to be contacted
  • sends them lots of messages that they don't want by mail, voicemail, email, or through other people
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