At AFG LAW our Domestic Abuse solicitors have years of experience of securing non-molestation orders but understand that is only part of helping you to protect yourself and your family.
For some people the fact a Non-Molestation order or occupation order has been made against them may be enough of a warning that they stop their behaviour but for others, who ignore the order and breach the conditions, the Non-Molestation order is only as good as the different breaches being reported to the police. It is really important that, if you have secured a Non-Molestation order, you use it and report every breach to the police.
What do you mean by breached the order?
A Non-Molestation order is a court order that sets out a list of things that a person is not allowed to do; examples might be coming within a certain distance of a home or being violent or threatening violence towards someone. If the person named in the order ignores the order or does something that the order says they are not allowed to do this is called a breach.
What should I do if the Non-Molestation order is breached?
Our domestic abuse solicitors would advise you to call the police and report the breach. We understand that this can be difficult as you may still have feelings for the other person, be worried about making the situation worse or worry that it won’t be taken seriously by the police. The difficulty is that if you do not report the breaches you are not ‘using’ the protection the order is giving you and, especially if you have children, concerns may be raised that you are not safeguarding them or yourself.
A breach of an order is a criminal offence, it means the person who has breached the order can be arrested, charged and the matter can go to the criminal courts. The criminal court has a range of sentencing options available to deal with the breach of the non-molestation order. The maximum sentence a criminal court can give for a breach of a non-molestation order is 5 years imprisonment, a fine or both. Our domestic abuse solicitors will always send a copy of the order to the police along with proof the other person has been given the order and knows about it. This is then placed on the police computer system so is immediately available to police officers responding to your report of a breach.
It is also possible to return the proceedings to the Family Court and the breach of an order will be dealt with as a ‘contempt of court’. This is more complicated and does not provide immediate protection in the same way that a report to the police can secure their attend and ensure safety. It is rarely a choice that people make as the police and criminal courts are well placed to deal with breaches of Non-Molestation orders and the Family Court does not have the same range of powers the criminal courts have.
What should I do if an Occupation Order is breached?
If the person named in the order is breaching the occupation order the next steps will depend on whether a ‘power of arrest’ is attached to the order. If a ‘power of arrest’ has been granted by the Family Court it means that police officers can arrest the person breaching the order. The court will attach a ‘power of arrest’ to an occupation order if they are satisfied that you need added protection because of that person’s behaviour. If the occupation order does not have a ‘power of arrest’ you can still return the proceedings to the Family Court that made the order and ask them to deal with the breach of the occupation order.