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Domestic Abuse Allegations During Coronavirus

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Amid concerns that the coronavirus lockdown measures could cause an increase in domestic abuse cases, the charity Crimestoppers Scotland has launched a campaign encouraging anyone who hears or sees abusive behaviour to come forward. 

Undoubtedly, this is a strange and challenging time for us all. Forced isolation, health concerns, financial strain and uncertainty about the future is likely to cause tensions in many households. Under these stressful conditions, domestic arguments may be more regular and stressful than usual.

While there are many people for whom lockdown poses an additional risk, we are concerned that for many others who are experiencing family arguments during these difficult times, this behaviour could be mistaken for abuse. There are serious consequences for those accused of this crime, including potential long-term damage to their relationships, reputation and livelihood. 

If you have been accused or charged with domestic abuse, you should contact a criminal defence lawyer without delay. At Keith J Tuck, our solicitors are here for you; to advise you and protect your rights. The sooner you get specialist representation, the better the outcome is likely to be. Contact us today.

What is domestic abuse in Scotland?

First of all, it is important to recognise that domestic abuse is not just physical conduct – it encompasses many behaviours. The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which applies to all cases reported from 1 April 2019, expanded the scope of the offence to include psychological and emotional abuse. This includes threats of violence, sharing intimate images, controlling access to money and restricting time spent with family and friends.

Under the law, domestic abuse will have occurred if the following are proven:

  • The abuse was inflicted on a partner or ex-partner.
  • There was a course of abuse (at least two incidents) that could reasonably be considered to cause physical or psychological harm (psychological harm includes fear, alarm and distress.)
  • The perpetrator intended to cause, or was reckless as to whether the behaviour would cause, physical or psychological harm.

If you are unsure about the law and how it applies to your circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us for guidance.

I have been accused of domestic abuse. What should I do?

In every situation, we urge you to contact a criminal defence solicitor with expertise in defending domestic abuse allegations as soon as possible after being taken into custody or formally charged with the offence.

If you are arrested, the police can take you to the station for questioning and detain you for up to 12 hours before you are charged or released. We strongly recommend that you exercise your right to consultation with a solicitor. Anything you say during a police interview can have an impact on the outcome of your case, so you must be informed about the law and your rights before and during questioning. Asking to speak to a lawyer does not mean you are admitting to having done anything wrong.

Can I still get advice at the police station during the coronavirus outbreak?

Under normal circumstances, advice can be given by your lawyer either at the police station or over the phone. However, to comply with the Government’s rules on social distancing during the outbreak, most consultations are happening remotely. Even though we may be unable to speak to you in person, please be assured that our solicitors will provide you with the highest quality advice and representation by telephone. We will make sure we fully understand the charges against you and that your rights are safeguarded throughout police questioning.

What happens if I am charged with domestic abuse?

If the police decide they have enough evidence to charge, our lawyers will advise you on the case against you and your options. We will take instructions from you and begin building your defence, which at first will focus on securing release from custody and avoiding court proceedings.

The police will prepare a report for the Procurator Fiscal, who will decide whether your case should go to court. Prosecution will go ahead if there is enough evidence and if it is in the public interest. If you are requested to appear in court, our lawyers will prepare a robust defence to the charges against you and will fight hard to get the best possible outcome in all legal proceedings.  

If you are approved for bail after being charged with domestic abuse, this will usually be subject to certain conditions. As well as a requirement to attend court at a future date, bail restrictions may include not contacting your partner or ex-partner and any children you have, and complying with a curfew. If the undertaking seems unfairly restrictive, we can appeal to the court to relax or revoke the conditions.

In some situations, the court may believe there are good reasons to keep you in custody until your first court appearance, for example, if you are considered a danger to the public. 

If my case goes to court, will I have to attend during the pandemic?

Temporary measures are currently in place in courts throughout Scotland in response to the coronavirus outbreak, with most urgent matters continuing to be dealt with remotely. While many hearings will be delayed until around August or September 2020, domestic abuse cases remain a priority during this time. Where possible and appropriate, most of your court appearances are likely to go ahead by video link. If your case is affected by the measures, the court will inform you by phone or email. For more information, please see our guidance on the changes implemented during the pandemic, and please contact our team if you have any questions.

Contact our Domestic Abuse Defence Solicitors Glasgow, Scotland

If you have been accused of abusive behaviour, our lawyers are here to provide expert advice and representation, and to protect your rights. We offer our services to both privately funded and Legal Aid clients. We understand you may need our help outside normal office hours, which is why we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our criminal defence solicitors support clients from Glasgow and the surrounding areas. Call us now on 0141 336 2020 or contact us via our online contact form.

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