The Police may issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN) instead of charging you with an offence. They can then apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO).
The idea behind the DVPN and DVPO is to deal with domestic abuse allegations when there is not enough evidence to obtain a realistic prospect of conviction. This is typically where a statement has not been made by the alleged victim. The order acts like a restraining order and will last up to a maximum of 28 days. During this period an otherwise unwilling complainant might wish to support a prosecution.
The DVPN notice and orders are brought within civil not criminal proceedings. This is despite the fact that they are dealt with in the Magistrates court . Breach of DVPO is a however a criminal offence running the risk of a maximum prison sentence of up to 2 months.
The basis for issuing a DVPN against an adult is if the Police have reasonable grounds for believing that you have been violent towards, or have threatened violence towards, an associated person, and the issue of the DVPN is necessary to protect that person from violence or a threat of violence by you.
The list of who may be regarded as an associated person includes anyone who:
- Are or have been married to each other or civil partners
- Are Cohabitants or former cohabitants (living together as husband and wife or civil partners)
- Live or have lived together in the same household, otherwise than merely by reason of one of them being the other’s employee, tenant, lodger or boarder
- Are relatives
- Have agreed to marry one another or enter into a civil partnership (whether or not that agreement has been terminated)
- Have or have had an intimate personal relationship with each other which was of significant duration
Before issuing a notice the Police must consider:
- the welfare of any person under the age of 18 years whose interests the officer considers relevant to the issuing of the DVPN (whether or not that person is an associated person);
- the opinion of the person, for whose protection the DVPN would be issued, as to the issuing of the DVPN ;
- and also any representations made by you as to the issuing of the DVPN.
The Police have to take into account the opinions and views of the associated person, as well as any representations you make, but these are not overriding factors. The Police will make a decision often against the express wishes of the alleged victim.
When served with a DVPN it will give the date, time and location of the hearing for the application for a DVPO. This must be within 48 hours of the DVPN being issued.
Breach of a DVPN
You will almost inevitably be arrested and brought before the Magistrates’ Court where the application for a DVPO would then take place.
Application for a DVPO
The Court must be satisfied that the following conditions are met:
- On the balance of probabilities that you have been violent towards, or have threatened violence towards, an associated person, and,
- The Court thinks that making the DVPO is necessary to protect that person from violence or a threat of violence by you.
The rules of evidence are also less strict. The Court can consider hearsay evidence, such as body worn camera footage or 999 calls made.
The Court must take into account the opinions and views of the associated person but again these are not overriding factors. The Courts often make DVPOs where the alleged victim does not consent to or ask for it to be made.
You can attend this hearing and have a right to be heard if you think that the Order should not be granted.
The DVPO can last from no less than 14 day to no more than 28 days.
When a DVPO is made there is no provision to vary or revoke it. Also there is no power to extend of vary the Order by the Police after it is made.
Breach of a DVPO
You can be arrested and brought before the Court. These are now criminal proceedings and you are entitled to apply for legal aid to for representation
If you contest the allegation then evidence will be heard and the Magistrates will make a decision again applying the civil burden of proof not the criminal one. Hearsay evidence will also be admissible.
The court has three sentencing options:
- Take no action against you
- Prison sentence for a maximum of 2 months
The last stage of the process can therefore result in a short prison sentence . It is advisable that you seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defence lawyer. Legal Aid is available subject to meansRose & Dunn are specialist criminal defence and motoring law solicitors and higher courts advocates. We can be contacted at any time of day or night. If you need emergency police station assistance contact us using any of the methods below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.