If you have been accused of committing the criminal offence of domestic violence against a member of your family, you should seek specialist legal representation as soon as you are able to do so in order to secure the best possible outcome for your case.
You’re likely to be concerned about the implications of the accusation, plus the potential effects on your reputation.
Whatever your individual circumstances, our specialist team of domestic violence defence solicitors will be able to advise you. We have considerable experience in defending cases of domestic assault and we understand that each case is unique, complex, emotionally charged and highly sensitive.
Domestic violence in UK law
The majority of domestic violence cases involve the use of unlawful force to another person, but the offence can also involve theft of money or property. Spouses or partners are most likely to allege domestic assault, but other family members such as parents, children and siblings can also allege the offence.
Each case of domestic assault will be treated individually, taking into consideration both the context of the assault charge and the physical and emotional factors alleged.
Any other factors deemed relevant to the circumstances case will also be assessed. These may include:
- Mental illness
- The influence of drugs
- The influence of alcohol
- The influence of prescription medication
- Domestic circumstances, such as the presence of children at the time of the alleged offence
The police station process involving domestic violence
If you are accused of committing domestic violence, you may either be arrested and taken to the police station or asked to attend your local police station for a Caution Plus 3 – or voluntary interview.
In either instance, you should seek expert legal representation as soon as you are able to do so in order to ensure the best possible outcome in your case.
Being questioned by the police regarding an alleged offence against a family member will be an emotional experience. You may be afraid that you are being accused of something you did not do, or you may fear being kept away from your children and your home.
It’s crucial to consult an experienced solicitor who can advise you at every stage of the police interview procedure.
Bail conditions for domestic violence offences
In cases of domestic violence, bail conditions which keep the accused away from the defendant and their address are common. If you are granted bail ahead of a court hearing, you’re likely to be prevented from visiting your address and seeing your children or other family members.
Our solicitors that specialise in domestic violence are able to apply to the court for bail conditions to be varied or lifted, every case is different and expert advice is vital.
Even where the Police or Prosecution don’t have a complainant, someone that is making an allegation, there will be occasions when the Police may apply to the Court for a Domestic Violence Prevention Order (DVPO); if you are told that the Police are applying for one, you need to be represented. If a DVPO is made, you will be subjected to onerous restrictions and if you breach the terms of a DVPO you can be arrested and kept in Custody even though there may never have been a case against you. Breaching the terms of a court Order is treated very seriously.
Domestic violence courts
Cases of domestic violence are heard in specialist domestic violence courts (SDVCs) which operate within the magistrates’ courts
The purpose of a dedicated domestic violence court is to ensure that everyone working with domestic violence cases – including the magistrates – has dedicated training and knowledge of this complex area of the law. This can sometimes work against the accused if the defence solicitor doesn’t have the expertise in this complex area.
Evidence can be given behind a screen or via video link and the court has a separate entrance. Again, special rules apply to this aspect of a case.
The team at Lawtons can help to prepare your defence by instructing relevant experts and tracing witnesses where applicable. We can cross examine the prosecution witnesses in court and support you when you give your evidence at trial.
Sentencing for domestic violence in the UK
If you have entered a guilty plea or been found guilty of domestic violence after a trial, you will appear before the court to be sentenced.
In the UK, sentencing for domestic violence is intended to act as both a punishment for the offence and a deterrent to prevent repeat offences.
The court will typically consider whether it should impose a restraining order against the accused. On occasions, the court will consider this measure without a conviction. The terms of a restraining order can last for years, they can be indefinite. If you breach the terms of a Restraining Order you are liable to be arrested and can be imprisoned for that alone.
When deciding on a sentence, the court will refer to a pre-sentence report, plus the sentencing guidelines, which take into account a range of penalties depending upon the specific nature of the offence and the outcome desired by the parties involved.
We can urge the magistrates to refrain from imposing a prison sentence and opt for a sentence of a community penalty with an emphasis on support and rehabilitation.
What to do if you are accused of domestic violence in the UK
Domestic assault is an extremely complex area of the law and legal advice and expertise are crucial to ensure that the best outcome is achieved at every stage of the case. From the initial contact with the Police to the point when a case may be concluded in Court, ensuring that you have expert advice is vital
Get in touch with the team at Lawtons, who can provide support at every stage of the legal proceedings.