The landscape for the investigation and prosecution of domestic abuse offences has changed dramatically over recent years. Investigations in relation to alleged domestic abuse incidents are increasing, greater police resources are being made available and the definition of many offences is being widened. Frequently, a complaint in relation to one incident can lead to a number of possible offences being considered by the police.
What is a Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPO) or Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO)?
At Olliers, we increasingly find that clients who are under investigation for domestic abuse allegations are released and immediately issued with a Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPN). A DVPN is issued by the police, and has effect for 48 hours after which an application to the court must be made for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO). Before a notice can be issued the police must have reasonable grounds for believing that violence has been used or threatened against a complainant and the notice is required to protect the complainant. The DVPN can be issued without the consent of a complainant.
What happens if you’re issued with a DVPN or DVPO?
A DVPN (and a later DVPO) will contain prohibitions which restrict a suspect’s movements, typically preventing them from contacting complainants, entering a property, evicting a complainant, going within a certain distance of a complainant’s address. The Magistrates Court must be satisfied that the suspect has used or threatened violence and an order is required to protect the complainant. Arguably, if a client is on bail in relation to a domestic abuse allegation then no order is required because bail conditions can be imposed. DVPOs must be in force for no fewer than 14 days from the day they are made, and for no more than 28 days. Breach of a DVPO can lead to a fine of up to £5000 or two month’s imprisonment. DVPNs and DVPOs will be replaced with Domestic Abuse Protection Notices (DAPN) and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (DAPOs) under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 but they are not yet in force. DAPOS will be more wide ranging, longer in duration and applications can be made, not just by police but by complainants and specified third parties.
How can Olliers help?
The Olliers team of specialists has substantial experience in successfully representing clients facing of allegations of domestic abuse. Our experience means that we understand the complexity of cases involving allegations of domestic abuse. We appreciate that matters are rarely as straightforward as they may initially seem. In the first instance, investigators will inevitably have only one side of the story. Allegations may date back over extended periods, they are rarely one off events and they may be combined with allegations of physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse. Frequently allegations of domestic abuse run alongside other issues between the parties, for example separation, divorce, issues in relation to children, finances or third party relationships.
At Olliers, we understand the complexity of cases involving allegations of domestic abuse. We appreciate that matters are rarely as straightforward as may be initially be presented by police or prosecutors who will inevitably have only one side of the story. We are frequently contacted by clients who have been asked to attend a voluntary interview. If a client was interviewed under arrest we may be contacted once they are on bail or released under investigation. The pre-charge stage of the case is absolutely crucial. It is the opportunity for the defence to go on the front foot adopting a proactive approach to pre-charge engagement with investigators.
At Olliers, we will always look to make successful representations against charge and prevent clients being prosecuted in the first place something we discuss in more detail here. We look to engage with the police at an early stage of an investigation. We always consider whether we can make representations against charge, by arguing that there is not a ‘realistic prospect of conviction’ or that it is not in the public interest to prosecute.
If you face an allegation of domestic abuse of any kind, it is important not to sit back and leave the police to investigate the matter. Please contact one of our specialist defence lawyers as soon as possible.