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Thorley Stephenson SSC is an Edinburgh based law firm providing a wide range of legal services in family, child and criminal court cases throughout Scotland. Tel: 0131 556 9599
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Law Society Calls for Clarity on Domestic Abuse Law – What Amounts to Domestic Abuse?

The Law Society of Scotland has called for clarity on the proposals for new domestic abuse law in order to assist those affected by physical or psychological abuse, or allegations of abuse.

The Law Society of Scotland made this statement in response to the Scottish Government Consultation which invited views on the draft provisions for creating a specific offence of 'abusive behaviour in relation to a partner or ex-partner'. The Law Society highlighted that a clear definition of the offence was needed.

Grazia Robertson, a member of Law Society of Scotland’s criminal law committee said: “We don’t dispute that psychological abuse or coercive control can amount to criminal behaviour in the same way as any physically abusive behaviour. However, we believe there needs to be more clarity on what any gap in existing law might be and need to examine if existing law is working effectively. It will also be essential that any offence extending beyond physical abuse or behaviour currently forbidden by the law, is clearly defined.”

In particular, those involved have called for greater clarification of what exactly constitutes abusive behaviour to partners or ex-partners as the offence will apply not only to physical abuse but also psychological abuse. This makes it more difficult to prove or to defend and there may not be any physical evidence or abuse, or absence of abuse.

In addition, the Law Society wants to make provision for support for those who have abused their partners, as opposed to only victims of abuse. The Law Society believe this would help those who have physically or emotionally abused their partner or former partner recognize the effects of their behavior and assist in changing the behaviours of abusers to prevent abuse in future relationships.

Grazia Robertson said: “As a society we want to prevent as well as punish any wrongdoing and having clarity on what amounts to criminal behaviour is part of that. Support and education for those who have abused partners would have a role to play if we are to stop recurring patterns of behaviour.”

Clarification may also be required as to which types of relationships are covered by domestic abuse legislation. In England and Wales, domestic abuse legislation extends to relationships such as to adult siblings, parents and adult children or even those who are not related but live in the same property.

Domestic Abuse Law, Scotland

The offense of domestic abuse relates to any form of physical, emotional, mental or sexual abuse amounting to criminal conduct which takes place in a domestic relationship. At present, the offence may take place between partners or ex-partners and may occur in the home or elsewhere. Where you have been accused of a domestic breach of the peace, it is of utmost importance that you contact a specialist criminal defence solicitor as soon as possible. The police treat all instances of domestic disturbance as a high priority, and any report of a domestic incident will trigger an immediate response from police. The police will then consider interview and detention of the alleged perpetrator in every case. If you are reported or accused of committing such an offense by your partner, a neighbour or friend or relative of a partner or ex-partner, you may have to spend a night in jail before attending Court the next day. If you have been accused of domestic abuse or reported to police for such an offence, it is important you contact our solicitors as soon as possible. We can provide you with specialist advice and help you avoid spending time in custody following your Court hearing.

Our specialist solicitors can answer all of the difficult questions you may have about your case. We understand that domestic abuse offenses are very personal in nature and as a result, you need a lawyer you can trust and rely on for good advice. We will always advise in your best interests and understand how much a case like this means to you. Domestic violence charges can be very upsetting and embarrassing, but our team is here to provide support regardless of circumstance.

Many people facing domestic violence charges have no previous experience of attending a court hearing and may find the process very daunting. Domestic incidents are treated very seriously by the justice system and those found guilty of a domestic offence may face anything from a fine up to five years in prison. For these reasons, it is imperative that as soon as you have been accused of domestic violence, that you seek expert advice from an experienced criminal defence solicitor. Our team here at Thorley Stephenson will guide you through the entire process and ensure your rights are upheld and protected at every stage of the process. We will ensure you receive a fair and just trial, and that you are treated fairly by police and the justice system. We have extensive and expert knowledge of the domestic violence prosecution process and will work hard to fight your case. We have excellent experience in defending domestic violence cases and a have had great success in this area.

We will make sure you understand your legal options and will work with you to establish the right course for your case. Where our clients insist that they did not commit the offence of which the are accused, we will fight robustly to defend them and dispel the accusations and exaggerations brought against them. Alternatively, where our client accepts the charge the are accused of we can explain the mitigating factors leading to the offence clearly, and convince the court to deal with the case leniently. If you have been accused of domestic violence, contact us today.

Importance of a Criminal Defence Solicitor: Contact Us

If you are accused of committing a crime or charged with any offence, a team of expert criminal defence lawyers can make a difference. Our team offer tailored advice to suit your needs and the best guidance and representation through proceedings. Contact us today using our online contact form.

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