Controlling or Coercive Behaviour | KANGS Defence Solicitors
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 provides amendments which, basically, remove the cohabitation requirements contained in the Serious Crime Act and focuses on the abusive relationship itself.
Sukhdip Randhawa of KANGS outlines the requirements for the offence.
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The Relevant Legislation | KANGS Domestic Abuse Offences Defence Solicitors
Consideration of the two Statutes will explain the movement towards focusing upon the relationship as opposed to the circumstances.
The Serious Crime Act 2015
This Act provides as follows:
‘76 Controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship
(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—
(a) A repeatedly or continuously engages in behaviour towards another person (B) that is controlling or coercive,
(b) at the time of the behaviour, A and B are personally connected,
(c) the behaviour has a serious effect on B, and
(d) A knows or ought to know that the behaviour will have a serious effect on B.
(2) A and B are “personally connected” if—
(a) A is in an intimate personal relationship with B, or
(b) A and B live together and—
(i) they are members of the same family, or
(ii) they have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.’
The elements highlighted above take account of the following:
‘Controlling or coercive behaviour’ may be:
- isolating a person from their family and friends,
- depriving them of their basic needs,
- monitoring their time,
- monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware,
- using digital systems, such as Smart devices or social media, to coerce, control or upset the victim including posting triggering material,
- taking control of their every- day life,
- depriving them of access to support services,
- enforcing rules and activities which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise the victim.
‘personally connected’ will be seen to be limited to:
- both parties being in ‘an intimate relationship’, or
- they live together and:
(i) they are members of the same family, or
(ii) they have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.
‘the behaviour has a serious effect’ or ‘will have a serious effect’
This may be proved:
- where the behaviour caused the victim to fear violence on at least two occasions or
- the serious alarm or distress caused by the suspect’s behaviour has had a substantial adverse effect on the victim’s usual day to day activities.
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021
At section 2, this Act states that ‘personally connected’ covers the situation where the parties are or have:
- been married to each other,
- been civil partners to each other,
- agreed to marry one another (whether or not the agreement has been terminated),
- entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not the agreement has been terminated),
- been in an intimate personal relationship with each other,
- or there has been, a time when they each have had a parental relationship in relation to the same child, or
- they are relatives.
It can therefore be seen that the new definition under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 removes the cohabitation requirement and focusses on the relationship instead.
Potential Defences and Punishment | KANGS Offences Against the Person Defence Solicitors
Section 76 (8) > (10) of the Serious Crime Act provides:
A defence for a defendant who can show that:
- in engaging in the behaviour in question, he or she believed they were acting in the victim’s best interests, and
- the behaviour was in all the circumstances reasonable.
A defendant will be taken to have shown the facts mentioned above if:
- sufficient evidence of the facts is adduced to raise an issue with respect to them, and
- the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
This potential defence is not available in relation to behaviour that causes the victim to fear that violence will be used against him/her.
Penalties upon conviction.
A person guilty of an offence is liable:
- on conviction on indictment before a Crown Court, to a fine, imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both;
- on summary conviction before a Magistrates’ Court, to a fine, imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or both.
How Can We Help? | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors
We are a nationally recognised Team of Criminal Law Experts conducting criminal cases of every nature.
If you are, or anticipate that you may be, affected by anything contained within his article, or any other potential allegation of criminal conduct, then please do not hesitate to contact one of our Team.
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