Accused Of Coercive Control? Everything You Need To Know

Coercive control and controlling behaviour are both crimes that can be committed, sometimes even without the knowledge of the accused.

Facing an accusation of coercive control or controlling behaviour is incredibly distressing and it can be incredibly stressful to find the right information from the right people to guide you through the process.

Our team of specialists at DPP Law have all the information you need to discover the key facts and the beginning steps you need to take to get the best legal support possible if you are facing a coercive control accusation.

In this article describing everything to do with coercive control, we’ll discuss:

  • What is coercive control?
  • What is the serious crime act 2015?
  • What are the sentencing guidelines for coercive control?
    – A – Higher culpability
    – B – Medium culpability
    – C – Lesser culpability
    – Category 1
    – Category 2
  • How is coercive control proved?
  • Is there a defence against controlling or coercive behaviour?
  • How can DPP Law’s solicitors help?

What is Coercive Control?

Coercive control became a criminal offence in 2015 and is an umbrella term that includes a variety of actions.

The overall definition of coercive control is behaviour that is controlling another person through a continuous action or pattern of acts of assaults, verbal or physical. These acts can be almost any type of behaviour, or include:

  • Rape
  • Humiliation
  • Degradation
  • Spying
  • Belittling
  • Controlling a person’s whereabouts
  • Controlling a person’s clothing
  • Obstructing medical or wellness support
  • Isolating them from their loved ones
  • Forcing another to break the law
  • Threatening to disclose personal information

What Is The Serious Crime Act 2015?

Coercive control and controlling behaviour are both criminal acts under Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015.

The Serious Crime Act 2015 was developed in 2015 to reinforce the current criminal and civil law. It includes actions that were not yet criminalised in law but required that status to enable the police and the courts to appropriately punish those making immoral or harmful actions.

Ensuring the National Crime Agency (NCA) and other law enforcement can effectively complete their work is made easier with the Serious Crime Act 2015. However, being fully aware of what types of crimes are involved in this Act is important, as well as the sentencing guidelines for coercive control.

What Are The Sentencing Guidelines For Coercive Control?

Due to the variety of actions that can be categorised as coercive control, the sentencing guidelines are slightly more complex in order to cover all potential bases.

To begin with, the level of culpability is determined using a category system from A to C, followed by the category which is decided by the level of harm caused.

A – Higher Culpability

Higher culpability is determined by identifying actions that are done to maximise fear or distress in another person over a prolonged period of time. It’s also a category A if there have been multiple methods used to control another, and there was coercive control that is used against another to humiliate the person.

B – Medium Culpability

The medium culpability is determined by identifying conduct that was enacted to create some fear within the victim, along with identifying factors that fall into categories A and C cases.

C – Lesser Culpability

Lesser culpability is determined by identifying actions that were done by a person with a mental disorder or learning disability or actions that were lesser in scope and time.

Category 1

A category one offence of coercive control is defined by an activity that has caused fear of violence frequently, along with serious distress that has caused a harmful effect on the victim, in a physical or psychological way.

Category 2

A category two offence of coercive control is defined as an activity that created a fear of violence at least twice, along with serious distress that has caused a harmful effect on the victim.

From here, offences that fall into category 1 and score an A of culpability, the defendant can face up to between 1-4 years in custody if found guilty. For the lower culpability crimes with a category 2 of harm, the range of sentences goes from a community order to 26 weeks in custody if the defendant is found guilty.

How Is Coercive Control Proved?

Proving coercive control is a difficult task and the burden falls onto the prosecution to be able to provide sufficient evidence that the behaviour was repeated and had a serious effect on the victim.

The prosecution will also have to prove that the defendant personally knew the victim and had an awareness that their behaviour was having a serious effect on the victim.

This can be proven in a variety of ways, including:

  • Video footage
  • Audio recordings
  • Phone calls
  • Text or emails
  • Eyewitnesses
  • Personal documents

Is There A Defence Against Controlling or Coercive Behaviour?

At DPP Law, our team is well experienced in handling defences against controlling or coercive behaviour allegations.

In Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, there is a statutory defence available. The defence is able to provide evidence to show that they acted in the way they did because they had the best interests of the other person at heart.

However, as a defence, this will require proof to also show that there was no violence or threat of violence involved in the actions.

How Can DPP Law’s Solicitors Help?

DPP Law’s solicitors have decades of experience in handling sensitive cases such as coercive control and controlling behaviour allegations.

Our team is effective and understanding in their mission to collect evidence, interview witnesses and build the best possible case against an allegation. Our bespoke service means you know you’ll be well looked after in the event of you facing an allegation of coercive control.

They’re able to assist you from the beginning of the process to the end, ensuring you are expertly advised and supported throughout. It is essential that you have access to this legal support in this situation, as it is easy to accidentally say the wrong thing or accidentally incriminate yourself when facing a coercive control allegation.

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It’s clear that coercive control is a confusing crime as many actions can fall under the umbrella of the term. As a result, it is much easier to fall into trouble if you don’t have the right legal representation to guide you through the confusing legal processes.

If you have been accused of coercive control, get in touch with our team of dedicated solicitors today and find out how they can help.