Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship

If you are considering this content then you must be concerned about an allegation of controlling or coercive behaviour and may not be that familiar with the legal system. Allegations of controlling or coercive behaviour are serious for those involved and if found guilty of an offence, the sentence could include imprisonment. This offence can be dealt with in either the Magistrate Court or Crown Court. 

When facing such allegations it is important to have expert legal representation from the outset, to ensure that you receive the right advice and approach to the case. JMW’s solicitors are leading experts of this relatively new offence and can help you mount a strong case for defence. 

To speak to a member of the team, get in touch today by calling 0345 872 6666 or by filling in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.

What is Controlling or Coercive Behaviour?

The offence falls under Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, which came into force on 29th December 2015 and aims to address abusive behaviour that may not be physical in nature and occurs within an intimate or family relationship. 

  • The offence of coercive control is deemed to have been carried out where:
  • A person repeatedly or continuously engages in behaviour towards the victim that is controlling or coercive
  • The individual is personally connected to the victimThe person’s behaviour can be shown to have had a serious effect on the victim
  • The person knew or ought to have known that their behaviour would have a serious effect on the victim

A person’s behaviour will be taken to have a ‘serious effect’ where it causes the victim to allege on at least two occasions that they feared violence would be used against them, or the behaviour has caused them serious alarm or distress, which has a substantial adverse effect on their usual day-to-day activities. 

Behaviour that constitutes as controlling or coercive is interpreted very widely and could include, but is not limited to:

  • Isolating a person from their friends or family 
  • Monitoring a person online or in person
  • Controlling a person’s finances
  • Threats to harm a person or their child
  • Criminal damage
  • Reputational damage
  • Disclosing personal information without consent 

There are varying levels of seriousness for offences of coercive control and these can depend on aggravating factors such as whether the allegation is placed within the context of allegations of domestic violence. The more serious examples of coercion can lead to tough punishment including imprisonment for up to five years; this is why obtaining the right legal representation is a must.

Can I Defend the Allegation of Controlling or Coercive Behaviour?

An accused may have a defence if they are able to show that by engaging in the behaviour in question they believed that they were acting in the best interests of their accuser and the behaviour in the circumstances was reasonable. It is important to get legal advice in order to establish if a defence applies in the circumstances.

Why Choose JMW?

Our private client criminal law service is designed to provide a first-class level of care to those facing allegations of coercive or controlling behaviour. The bespoke nature of our service means we are able to be as dedicated and thorough as is required in cases such as these.

We are able to provide assistance throughout proceedings and our services include:

  • Advising during an interview under caution
  • Investigating the prosecution’s evidence
  • Compiling the strongest possible case for your defence to be presented in the right way. 

We provide national representation and have experience in every Court in England and Wales, whether it be the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court. 

Talk to Us

Get in touch with the expert team at JMW today for advice in relation to any allegations of controlling or coercive behaviour. Call us on 0800 652 5559 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will call you back as soon as possible. 


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