Coercive & Controlling Behaviour

Section 76 of The Serious Crime Act 2015 created an offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship.  The offence is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of five years.

What is the Criteria for the Offence of Coercive & Controlling Behaviour?

The following is the criteria for the offence of coercive and controlling behaviour

  • the behaviour must take place “repeatedly or continuously”
  • the individuals must have been personally connected (i.e. in a relationship) when the behaviour took place
  • the behaviour must have a serious effect on the victim
  • The accused must have or ought to have known that the behaviour would have a serious effect on the victim.

What Amounts to Coercive & Controlling Behaviour?

  • Stopping or changing the way someone socialises
  • Physical or mental health deterioration
  • A change in routine at home including those associated with mealtimes or household chores
  • Attendance record at school
  • Putting in place measures at home to safeguard themselves or their children
  • Changes to work patterns, employment status or routes to work

Possible Defences for Coercive & Controlling Behaviour

It is possible to state that you were acting in the best interest of the victim, so long as you can show the behaviour was reasonable in the circumstances. The court’s test for reasonable behaviour is whether a reasonable person, given the same circumstances, would have done the same.

When allegations of domestic abuse are made the accused person is often prohibited from staying at their home address, or having any contact with the alleged victim.  With such a stressful time, it is important that you have a solicitor who is available to discuss your case when you need that support, as well as one who will fight for you in court. We can advise on the best way to prepare and present your case, and will work tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for you.

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