It should be said at the outset that 'Domestic Violence,' is sometimes a misnomer. It is simply the phrase that has been used by the Police and the Courts to describe a certain type of case - i.e. those involving a level of 'relationship.'
For example, if it is alleged that you have harassed a former or current partner - even an ex with whom you haven't been in a relationship for years - this will still fall under the umbrella of domestic violence. This is so even if all you are alleged to have done is make, for example, non-threatening but unwanted phone calls.
If you intentionally or recklessly cause damage to property at home - this will fall under the 'tag,' domestic violence. Even if you have been married for many years and you shout at your partner, such that he or she fears violence will be used (a 'pure,' assault) - this will be called domestic violence.
That is not to dismiss or misunderstand the seriousness of such an allegation. There are many people in very violent and abusive relationships whose treatment fully deserves the tag 'domestic violence.' However, for every such case, there are many more where a comparatively minor incident earns the title, 'domestic violence.'
Cases of controlling and coercive behaviour will also fall under the heading of domestic violence.
If you are investigated for or charged with an offence against your partner, the consequences can be severe.
(1) Almost inevitably a bail condition of non-contact will be imposed upon you - such that you cannot contact your partner directly or indirectly. This means that (if you live together) you will not be able to return home and will have to find somewhere else to stay. You are likely to have a bail condition imposed that precludes you from going to the home of the complainant at all. You will not be able to see minor children unless a caveat is added to the condition allowing such contact. This is usually acheived by using the assistance of a willing and acceptable third party.
(2) A non-contact condition is likely to remain in place even if your partner alters thier mind and no longer wishes to support the Prosecution against you. We live in a Prosecution driven world - and even if your partner changes their mind about the complaint - the Prosecution will decide whether or not to continue with the case against you. The Prosecution might even take your matter to trial without the evidence of the original complainant (if they feel they have sufficient 'other,' evidence!)
(3) If you are convicted, the Prosecution can apply for a Restraining Order against you - such that the bail conditions become the requirements of an order - which precludes you from doing certain things (for example contacting your partner or attending the family home). If a Restraining Order is granted, it will usually be for 12 months - but it could be longer! Breach of the order is a serious either way offence (which means an offence that can be tried in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court) and carries up to a maximum sentence of five years in custody!
(4) If you plead guilty or you are found guilty of an offence, it is automatically aggravated by virtue of the fact that it is an offence committed in a 'domestic,' setting. There will be a prima facie assumption that the complainant is 'vulnerable,' because of the circusmtances.
The reality is that if you are accused of a 'domestic violence,' offence - you need to have somebody on your side!
Even for relatively 'minor,' matters - the consequences of being charged and convicted in a 'domestic violence,' matter can be far reaching.
Coral Fitzgerald has represented many clients for accusations of domestic violence and has achieved many excellent results. She can offer a wealth of knowledge and advice in this area. Given her a call on 07790 356069.
Below you will find some examples of domestic cases undertaken by Coral in recent years. It certainly does not represent all of the DV cases undertaken, but gives some idea of the depth of her knowledge in this area. This will include cases at the Police Station and Magistrates Court - and cases which have resulted in both guilty and not guilty pleas.
(1) (Magistrates Court Matter) This was an allegation of punching and kicking the complainant (whilst on the floor!). The Magistrates Court refused bail on the basis of the 'floor kicking.' On appeal to the Crown Court, that Court granted bail. At trial, the complainant stated that there was never an accusation of 'kicking on the floor,' and disputed her own witness statement. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in a successful half time submission. (Coral Fitzgerald as Advocate and Litigator).
(2) (Magistrates Court Matter) Successful negotiations with the Prosecutor at Court in relation to factual differences between the Defence and Prosecution case. The case was ultimately put as per the defence version. A Conditional Discharge was imposed. No restraining order was granted, despite a request for one by the Prosecution. (Coral Fitzgerald as Advocate and Litigator)
(3) (Magistrates Court Matter) Initially, a Community Order was imposed for reasonably unpleasant (threats involving knives and guns) and uncontested harassment of former partner. A restraining order was also imposed. Subsequently, the client breached the restraining order on two ocassions - accepted guilt on both occassions and the community order was extended on both ocassions. The Client was then charged with a third accusation of breaching the order which he disputed. The matter went to trial and client was acquitted. (Coral Fitzgerald as Advocate for all but one hearing and Litigator throughout).
(4) (Crown Court Matter) Historical accusations of domestic assault came to light following a relatively minor incident during which the Police were called. The Client was originally charged with common assault x 4, but on the day of the original Magistrates Court trial, one of the charges was amended to ABH. The client was advised to elect (choose) Crown Court trial, which he did. In the Crown Court, the client was acquitted of all charges (Coral Fitzgerald as litigator and Advocate - Bozzi Sheffi of 4 Breams Buildings as Trial Counsel).
(5) (Crown Court Matter) Allegation of domestic burglary against former partner. Client acquitted following admission of Facebook entries showing conversations between the complainant and the defendant, which were put to the complainant with dramatic effect. (Coral Fitzgerald as litigator and Counsel / Mitch Cohen as Trial Counsel).
(6) (Magistrates Court Matter) Allegation of domestic assault, which led to the client having to leave the family home for a lengthy period. The complainant gave a retraction statement (with a second version of events) via a Solicitor and served the same on the Court and Prosecution. The complainant moved to India and issued divorce proceedings in that territory. The papers from the divorce proceedings were obtained and translated, showing a third version of events. Matter discontinued at half time following a successful submission that there was no case to answer. (Coral Fitzgerald as litigator and advocate - Mitch Cohen as trial advocate).
(7) (Magistrates Court Matter) Allegation of domestic assault against partner and her father. The complainant then issued proceedings in the County Court for custody of the children. Coral Fitzgerald made an application to the County Court for permission to use a statement from those proceedings in the criminal matter. Permission granted. Client acquitted of both charges. (Coral Fitzgerald as litigator and advocate).
(8) (Police Station Matter) No further action in a case involving an accusation of domestic assault against a parent. (Coral Fitzgerald representing)
(9) (Police Station Matter) No further action eventually taken in a case of domestic assault where very slight, 4' 2" and unwell client was alleged to have assaulted her 6' partner. (Coral Fitzgerald representing).
(10) (Police Station Matter) No further action taken in a case of domestic harassment against former partner (and former partner's new partner), in spite of forensic evidence linking client to a letter sent. (Coral Fitzgerald representing).