Roberto Osuna’s Legal Case Is Over

On Tuesday, Astros reliever Roberto Osuna agreed to a deal to bring to a close the legal proceedings pending in Ontario for charges filed against Osuna for assault stemming from a domestic-violence incident that occurred earlier this year.


A domestic assault charge against Houston Astros closer Roberto Osuna in Toronto was withdrawn on Tuesday.

In exchange, Osuna agreed to a peace bond, which requires him to not contact the woman he is alleged to have assaulted and to continue counseling. He must comply with the conditions of the bond for one year or face criminal charges, which would carry a maximum sentence of up to four years’ imprisonment.

The bond was worth $500. At least according to one Associated Press report, the impetus behind the deal was that the complainant, Alejandra Román Cota, was unwilling to return to Canada to testify against Osuna.

Speaking in court, prosecutor Catherine Mullaly said the complainant, who lives in Mexico, had made clear she would not travel to Toronto to testify against Osuna.

“The Crown does not have a reasonable prospect of conviction on this charge absent her testimony,” Mullaly told Judge Melvyn Green.

The prosecutor also indicated that Cota wishes to continue co-parenting their three-year-old daughter with Osuna. Per the Globe and Mail:

Known formally as a Section 810 recognizance, the peace bond Osuna signed obliges him to continue counselling. He may not have contact with Román Cota without her express written consent. Mullaly also said Osuna had completed counselling both through Major League Baseball and privately with a psychotherapist in Toronto.

Osuna’s lawyer, Domenic Basile, told court that his client’s agreement to enter the peace bond was not to be construed as an admission of guilt, and that the player had insisted all along he was not guilty.

“I wish to make it clear that this is not an admission of criminal or civil liability,” Basile said. “He is content to enter into the peace bond (and) is aware of the conditions and will abide by the conditions.”

It’s worth noting that there were no findings of fact as part of the agreement or issuance of the bond, which isn’t unusual. It does, however, mean there was no adjudication of whether Osuna was legally culpable, meaning the only investigation to reach any conclusions as to the substantive merits of the case remains Major League Baseball’s investigation and subsequent suspension. It’s worth noting that Cota did cooperate with MLB’s investigation, including sitting for at least one interview.

As for Osuna, the Peace Bond is a sort of hybrid between an order of protection and what some states in the U.S. call “supervision.” Per the Canadian Department of Justice,

[a] peace bond is a protection order made by a court under section 810 of the Criminal Code. It is used where an individual (the defendant) appears likely to commit a criminal offence, but there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has actually been committed.

In these situations, a person can obtain a peace bond against the defendant from the Court. The Court may impose specific conditions that are designed to prevent the defendant from committing harm to the person, their spouse or common-law partner, their child, or from committing damage their property.

Where the Court accepts the application for the peace bond, the defendant must obey the conditions of the peace bond or else he or she may face criminal charges. Peace bonds can be enforced anywhere in Canada and can be in place for up to one year. If the threat persists after one year, the peace bond can be renewed by application to the Court.

Osuna and the Astros both issued statements after the hearing, as follow.

Sheryl Ring is a litigation attorney and General Counsel at Open Communities, a non-profit legal aid agency in the Chicago suburbs. You can reach her on twitter at @Ring_Sheryl. The opinions expressed here are solely the author's. This post is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

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4 years ago

The part of the definition that confuses me here is “there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has actually been committed.” Not reasonable grounds for conviction, but reasonable grounds to believe something has happened. Yet MLB found enough evidence to hand down its 2nd longest suspension. Is Cota’s testimony the only evidence difference? Is there any reason to believe that Osuna didn’t actually commit the offense he was charged with?

Bluebird in Boulder
4 years ago

I would presume that it has to do with the plaintiff not testifying.

4 years ago

Ms. Cota is not the plaintiff..

4 years ago

Well no conviction or guilty plea means there is reason to believe Osuna didn’t actually commit the offense he was charged with. At least, legally speaking. Could mean Canada didn’t think their caes was good enough to convict. Could mean Cota didn’t want to pursue the matter any further. Could mean the various involved parties came to an arrangement.

None of which has anything to do with MLB’s code of conduct, and whatever burden of proof is required for a suspension. It’s also worth noting that Osuna did not appeal the suspension so …

Chris Kmember
4 years ago
Reply to  HappyFunBall

Drawing inferences from not taking an appeal is as dangerous as inferring anything from Cota not testifying, or Osuna entering into the peace bond. It could be the case that Osuna thought an appeal would only prolong the process and might result in an unfavorable outcome, or it could be the case that Osuna didn’t appeal on account of guilt. We might never know, but we probably shouldn’t consider any of this when weighing the probability that Osuna did or didn’t do anything. The complainant may have had any number of reasons for not wanting to testify, and Osuna’s decisions to enter into the bond or not take an appeal may have been purely strategic.

4 years ago

This is a commonly confused point of the peace bond. Because an 810 undertaking often follows an alleged offence, it is assumed that it relates to the information supporting the charge. However, the peace bond is forward-looking – I prefer to think of it as “circumstances require the intervention of the courts to ensure the safety of the complainant.” The most common iteration of the peace bond basis is the Informant (generally the officer swearing the information) has reasonable and probable grounds to believe [the complainant] reasonably fears that [the accused] will cause personal injury to him/her…”

In my view, the language that “there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has actually been committed” is a public policy position
in support of the fiction that the peace bond is not a remedy to criminal charges.