Family Solicitor, Bradie Pell, at Malcolm C Foy & Co Solicitors based in Doncaster and Rotherham explains that whilst there has been an overhaul of the Legal Aid system, Legal Aid is still available (subject to a possible contribution) for those suffering from Domestic Violence and the options available to try and obtain protection.
WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence is an umbrella term used to describe many forms of behavior by one person towards another. Such behavior can be violent or physical abuse, sexual abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment and even extends to controlling behavior regarding money, emotional abuse and verbal abuse. Domestic violence does not always have to be physical.
If a person (male or female) is experiencing this behavior, they should first of all contact the police. There are also various organisation’s that are able to offer advice. In the event that a person wants to seek further protection or just some further advice about their options, they should contact us and we will make them an appointment to assess them for any legal aid available and confirm the options. This can often be done very quickly.
WHAT IS AN INJUNCTION?
An injunction is a term used to describe the order that can be made by the courts to prevent a person from carrying out a certain action for example, contacting a person. If an injunction is breached there can be legal consequences, such as arrest and imprisonment.
There are two main types of injunctions available:
Non Molestation Order
A Non molestation Order prevents a person from behaving in a certain way and can also include a person’s children.
Breach of a non-molestation order is now an offence for which the person can be arrested. The police will be notified of any order made.
An occupation order tells the abuser to leave a person’s home and can also prevent the person going within a specified distance of it. The person can be forcibly removed from your home by the police if they refuse to leave.
The family courts can attach a power of arrest to the order so that if the abuser breaks the order they can be arrested and taken to court to be deal with in the same way as a non-molestation order.
The police are provided with a copy of an occupation order.
Any breach of an order is taken very seriously by the courts and punishments can include a financial penalty and/or a prison sentence.
Both of these types of orders can be made quickly by the courts and initially without the abuser being present (although the order is not effective until it has been personally served upon him/her)
Undertakings are commonly offered at court when someone has made an application for a non-molestation order and/or occupation order instead of an actual order being made.
An Undertaking is a promise to the court either to do something or not to do something. An undertaking can be offered to the court by the alleged abuser in the same terms as an injunction. If the court considers it safe and appropriate, it will accept the undertaking in writing which affords similar protection to the victim but without the court making a finding that the alleged abuser has done anything wrong. There is no power of arrest, but a proven breach of an undertaking is held to be a contempt of court and the case can be quickly referred back to the Judge who has the power to fine and/or imprison the offender in a similar way.
Injunction orders and undertakings usually last for a period of 6 months but can be extended where necessary.
Sometimes it is not appropriate to go to court immediately (and sometimes people do not want to). In these circumstances, as long as the person has an address where the other party can receive correspondence we can write a “Warning Letter”. These letters warn someone to stop doing certain things i.e., sending text messages, phone calls etc. The person is warned that if the behavior continues you will then consider court action to obtain an Injunction. To show you have tried to resolve matters, a copy of the warning letter can be produced to the court and is often necessary to obtain Legal Aid in any event.
If you need assistance please contact Bradie Pell at Malcolm C Foy & Co. Malcolm C Foy & Co have offices in Doncaster and Rotherham. Bradie is a qualified solicitor and has significant experience in all of the above areas and will guide you through your options. Bradie can be contacted on 01302 340 005 or 01709 836866. Alternatively, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice, and the law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances. 11.05.15