Info & Advice

What evidence do you need for a non-molestation order?

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A non-molestation order is implemented by the court to protect individuals from harassment, intimidation, or violence and is typically obtained by victims of domestic abuse. However, in order to secure the order, the court requires applicants to provide compelling evidence showing they have been or are likely to be subjected to harassment, violence, or intimidation.

Put simply, if you are unable to provide any evidence to support your claims, then it is unlikely you will be granted a non-molestation order. The court needs to be satisfied that there is a risk of harm to you and/or your children before they issue the order. This article explores what evidence is needed to support such a case.

What type of evidence is needed to support a non-molestation order?

As stated above, the court requires robust evidence to support an application for a non-molestation order. The following is a non-exhaustive list of things you may seek to rely on:

  • A police report is one of the strongest forms of evidence and can provide detailed information about the nature and extent of the abuse. Police reports can also provide a contemporaneous record of any incidents that have occurred, including the date, location, and time of the incidents. It may also stand as witness testimony and provide information about the perpetrator’s behaviour, including reported threats or acts of violence.
  • Witness statements from family, friends, or neighbours can provide evidence of things they have seen and heard. This may include witnessing acts of violence, intimidation, threats, or other coercive behaviour. They may also discuss your attempts to seek support/help, if known.
  • Medical records can also be useful to support a non-molestation application. They can offer information about injuries or illnesses that have been caused by the perpetrator’s conduct. Medical records can also provide details about any psychological or emotional damage that has been caused by the abuse.
  • CCTV footage provides visual evidence of any acts of violence, intimidation, or threats and can also show the perpetrator’s behaviour, including attempts to stalk or follow the victim. It can be difficult to obtain such footage privately, as it is usually only disclosed to the police. In addition, many companies wipe recordings after a 24 hour period, which means it may no longer be available to view. It is important, that if you have been subjected to abuse in public, that you contact police as soon as possible to preserve such evidence and put data collection in train. Even if you don’t feel ready to pursue a case against a partner at that time, it may be useful in the future.
  • Text messages, emails, and social media posts can all provide substantial evidence to support a non-molestation claim. These forms of communication offer important insight into the perpetrator’s behaviour, and can demonstrate a series of increasing levels of threat, or verbal abuse.
  • Photographs or recordings showing details of an incident can be highly persuasive

Can I still get a non-molestation order if I am living with my abuser?

It is obviously going to be extremely difficult to enforce a non-molestation order preventing domestic abuse, violence, threats, or harassment if you are living with your abuser. This is why many non-molestation orders, where the parties are still living in the same property, are accompanied by an application for an occupation order. This type of application can also be sought if the perpetrator has left the property, and prevents them from being able to return.

An occupation order is where the court decides who should and should not live in the family home. This order can also remove the perpetrator from the home and from entering an area around the home for a specified period of time. Sometimes, a non-molestation and occupation order can include a power of arrest. This forewarns the police who are able to act straightaway if they believe the order has been breached and act accordingly. Of course, even if orders do not have this power attached, anyone who believes they, or their children, are in immediate danger, should immediately contact police.

Can family members apply for a non-molestation order?

Someone suffering from domestic abuse can apply for a non-molestation order against the following individuals:

  • Someone they are in a romantic relationship with
  • A family member
  • Someone they are living with or have lived with

The person they need protection from must be their:

  • Husband, wife, or civil partner
  • Former husband, wife, or civil partner
  • Fiancé, fiancée, or proposed civil partner
  • Former fiance, former fiancée, or former proposed civil partner provided the engagement or agreement to form a civil partnership ended less than 3 years ago
  • Boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, or a person they are in, or have been in, an intimate relationship with for a significant period (typically more than 6 months)
  • Close family member such as a parent, brother, sister uncle, or aunt

If a family member needs protection and does not fall within any of the above categories, then they will not be able to make an application for a non-molestation order. However, they could take action under alternative legislation. If the person has harassed them more than once and the behaviour has made them feel distressed or alarmed, they could report the conduct to the police as criminal harassment. Depending on the severity of the case, the maximum sentence is 5 years in prison, but most result in a fine of anything up to £1,000 plus court costs, and an injunction.

Alternatively, a family member may be able to take the perpetrator to the civil court under the same criteria as criminal harassment. The court can order the person harassing them to stay away under the terms of an injunction, and may even order compensation to be paid to the victim. An application to the civil court can be made even if the behaviour hasn’t been reported to the police; it was reported but the CPS decided not to prosecute, or the CPS prosecuted, and the court found the perpetrator not guilty.

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