How is Domestic Violence Proven in Court?


This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may be experiencing domestic violence or has questions on what they should do:

What is Domestic Violence?
Who Commits Domestic Violence and Why?
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Domestic Violence?
How to Handle & Deal with Domestic Violence
How to Escape (or Help Someone Else Escape) Domestic Violence
How to Heal and Recover from Domestic Violence
What Impacts Does Domestic Violence Have on Victims and Their Family/Friends?
How to report Domestic Violence (and Who to Report it to)
How is Domestic Violence Proven in Court?
Punishment and Sentencing for Violent Domestic Abuse
How can Domestic Violence be Prevented?
What Effects Does Domestic Violence Have on Wider Society?
Domestic Violence Data & Statistics
Domestic Violence Helplines, Support & Further Reading

It can be extremely difficult for victims to come forward and report Domestic Violence, they may have been threatened or too scared to reach out.

For this reason it is important that victims including their friends and family know what to expect when the abuse has been reported.

What evidence and proof will they need? In this guide we look at the answer to this question and explain the steps victims can take to seek justice for domestic violence and abuse.

When a case goes to court

There are a few stages that you will need to go through before the case goes to court, we will look at the different stages helping to understand what is needed for the court process.

Reporting it to the police

The first step would be to report the incident/s to the police, you can do this by going to your local police station or by calling 101. This may be very difficult and it would be better to have someone close to you support you through this. It would involve providing a detailed statement of what happened and also details of the abuser. The police will then explain the prosecution process should you want the abuser to get prosecuted in the criminal court. The police will begin an investigation if they feel confident with you wanting to proceed.

It is important to provide as much evidence as you can of the abuse, for example you may have photos of injuries or have visited your GP or hospital at the time. Keeping a log of the incidents as well as any other evidence can help with the court process.

The investigation process

As part of the investigation process, the police may do the following;

  • They may attempt to gather forensic evidence and any other evidence that will support your allegations, for example photos of injuries etc.
  • Ask you to provide details of any other witnesses who can corroborate your report
  • May try to access medical records with your consent
  • May arrest and interview the abuser (if you are wanting to prosecute)

What will the abuser be charged with

Domestic violence is not an offence itself, however an arrest for an act of domestic assault would be charged as one of three assault charges; Common assault, Actual bodily harm (ABH) and Grievous Bodily harm (GBH). 

If the police arrest and charge the abuser, they will decide whether to keep them in custody or release them on bail. There will usually be conditions attached to their bail to protect you from further abuse. Remember even if the police don’t arrest the abuser, you may still be able to apply for court orders for legal protection, this may include a non-molestation or occupation order. These orders ensure the abuser is kept away from you.

After the police have completed their investigation

After completing their investigation, the police normally pass the file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who will decide whether there is enough evidence and if it is in the public interest to charge and convict the abuser.

This may involve a court process in which you will be required to give evidence during trial.  In the evidential stage the CPS must be satisfied that there is enough evidence for a possible conviction. If there is insufficient evidence, the case cannot continue no matter how serious the matter is. For this reason you can see the importance of having good reliable evidence to support your case

If there is sufficient evidence then the CPS will decide if it is in the public interest to prosecute, some of the factors that will be considered for this include;

  • The seriousness of the offence
  • The victims injuries
  • Whether children are involved
  • The use of any weapons
  • Any history of violence

The CPS will need to strike a balance between the risk to the victim and to other individuals. It’s very important that you understand how domestic violence is proved in court before embarking on this quest and ensure to have a good network of support to help you with this journey.

We understand how difficult it is to experience abuse, whether it is yourself or someone you know, sometimes trying to find help is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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