What is the Domestic Violence and Stalking Act?
The Domestic Violence and Stalking Act (DVSA) came into law in September 1999 as a measure to stop threatening conduct from escalating into serious harm for victims.
A Protection Order can be obtained against anyone whom the victim has cohabitated with in a spousal or intimate relationship; has a family relationship with the person whether or not they have lived together; had a dating relationship with the person whether or not they have lived together or the other parent of their child, regardless of whether they have lived together.
Domestic violence is defined by the DVSA as any act or omission or threatened act of bodily harm, property damage or emotional abuse, forced confinement or sexual abuse that causes the victim to fear for their safety.
Stalking is defined by the DVSA as repeated behavior such as following the victim, communication towards them, watching any place the other person regularly attends or other conduct that makes the victim feel harassed and fear for their safety.
The Act allows victims to seek a Protection Order against an accused on a “without notice” basis at any Courthouse or RCMP station in Manitoba. If granted, the Protection Order is in place immediately for a period of 3 years. Victims give testimony under oath, and the Justice of the Peace must believe the victim fears for their safety based on the actions of the Respondent on a balance of probabilities.
Protection Orders can be granted whether or not the Respondent still lives in the same residence or community as the victim, the Respondent is currently incarcerated and/or criminal charges have been laid against the Respondent for the behaviour, the victim is in an emergency shelter or safe place, or the victim has a history of resuming the relationship with the Respondent.
The Protection Order can prevent the Respondent from following the victim, communicating with the victim, prohibiting the Respondent from attending specific places whether the victim is regularly, have the Respondent removed from the residence, and/or have the Respondent deliver to a peace officer any firearms, ammunition or weapons in their possession.
If granted, the Protection Order will come into effect immediately for a period of 3 years and be served on the Respondent by sheriffs. The Respondent must move to set aside the Protection Order within 20 days of being served if they do not believe it is justified. At a hearing to set aside the Protection Order, the Respondent has the onus to demonstrate, on a balance of probabilities, that the Protection Order is not warranted.
The DVSA also allows victims to apply for a Prevention Order, which is typically granted by a King’s Bench Justice after a hearing on the matter where both parties are able to present evidence in support of their position. A Prevention Order does not have to have an expiry date, and allows the victim to seek the same relief as a Protection Order, but the Respondent can also be ordered to compensate the victim for loss of income, expenses relating to new accommodations, therapy, medication and legal fees, or requiring the Respondent to attend counselling, among other relief.