The PARS (“Partner Assault Response”) program is a specialized counselling program that deals with domestic violence and abuse. The PARS program is an initiative of Ontario’s Domestic Violence Court and offers community based group sessions for individuals who are facing domestic assault charges. The Ministry of the Attorney General’s Ontario Victim Services funds the program, and it is designed to enhance victim safety and hold offenders accountable. The program is a form of Early Intervention, and may result in your charges being withdrawn, stayed, or you receiving an Absolute or Conditional Discharge. The program is offered in many locations and languages and consists of 10-12 group counselling sessions. If you are considering resolving your domestic assault charges it is very likely that you will have to complete PARs at some point.
Should I sign up for the PARs Program?
If you are asking yourself whether or not you should enter the program, you need to hire a criminal lawyer immediately. A Toronto domestic assault lawyer can advise as to the best course of action in your case depending on the facts. It is very important to understand that the PARs program does require a defendant to acknowledge responsibility for some or all of the facts that led to the criminal charges. If you did not commit a crime, you should not participate in the PARs program. Our firm’s approach when it comes to domestic allegations is to hear your side of the story and get the full picture first. It is possible to negotiate resolutions with the crown attorney that do not involve the PARs program or involve an alternative to it.
How Long Does the PARS Program Take?
The PARS program can be onerous for some individuals. The schedule is fixed and very strict. If you show up late for sessions you may be refused entry. This may have an effect on your PARs report, which is provided to the court upon completion or non-completion. The PARs program typically takes approximately four months to complete, but that may depend on the service provider and how busy they are.
What is the Cost of the PARS Program?
There is no fixed cost to complete the PARs program. The cost depends on your income. If your lawyer advises you to complete the program, you will be asked about your income during the intake process. You may be required to provide proof of income. This sliding scale for fees ensures that the program does not present a material hardship to individuals who are unemployed or simple unable to pay.