A Domestic Violence Protection Order is the next stage on from the Domestic Violence Protection Notice. Now the magistrates’ court is involved so the level or seriousness is increased considerably.
Having been served by a police officer acting as investigator, jury and judge with a Domestic Violence Protection Notice and immediately been evicted from your home, possibly against the wishes of the ‘other party’, within 48 hours the magistrates may decide to continue the terms of the Domestic Violence Protection Notice by making a Domestic Violence Protection Order which will extend restrictions for 2 – 4 weeks. The police will be responsible for telling the person when and where the hearing is to take place. If they fail to contact you then provided the magistrates are happy that the police have tried sufficiently, they can proceed in your absence.
There is little time to get organised. Your employment will be badly impacted and if you need to prepare a case and perhaps instruct solicitors you have precious little time to do any of this and certainly no time to apply for and be granted legal aid if you need this. If you fail to turn up in the Magistrates’ Court they can go ahead and just make the order. Having to go to work to earn a crust for you and the family will not cut any slack with the court.
The court hearing will not be easy. If the other party does not want to support the application to extend the notice into a Domestic Violence Protection Order then the person’s views can be ignored. The police will give evidence of what they believe they witnessed and will give hearsay evidence of the allegation that might have been thrown at you in the heat of the moment. You have little or no chance to cross examine the accuser if the officer is the only one there to tell the magistrates what they heard. You have been excluded from the home and therefore may have no chance of collecting evidence from any other witness who could be asked to come to court to explain what really happened.
The timescale for the hearing to take place is very, very short. If the Domestic Violence Protection Notice is given on say a Friday you may have to prepare over the weekend and try to instruct solicitors over the same period. Although the weekend and bank holidays do not count for the calculation of the 48 hours this does not mean that the court will not hear your case on say the Monday. You will need to contact a firm of solicitors that takes seriously the need to offer clients a 24/7 service with an emergency hot line to get matters started. If you leave it until you get to court you really ought not expect the best result. However, as legal aid will not be available, as the court takes a number of days to consider applications, for early intervention you will need to be able to pay privately.
Not taking these matters very seriously will mean a Domestic Violence Protection Order is made against you and this will impact more seriously on the ‘criminal record’ this incident has created for you. Whereas you might be able to argue an officer got it all wrong, if the court makes a Domestic Violence Protection Order against you then this is a different and higher level of proof of violence. From then on you will always be tainted by the label of domestic violence.
There are specific codes for these matters to be recorded on the police national computer. As they are said to be civil matters and not criminal matters it might be that they never become rehabilitated under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. These are provisions that will cause people problems. The issues are serous and can affect you for many years to come.