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Domestic violence is a criminal act committed by the offender against another person that he or she might have had a family or intimate relationship with. Domestic violence causes distress to the victim and might at some point even lead to depression or violence in the relationship of two individuals. The essay will show the effect of domestic violence on how it became a breach in Serious Crime Act 2014. It also includes the proceedings, defense, prosecutor’s view, and conclusion.
Jerome and Talia are in a relationship, and Jerome is the sole provider for both Talia and her two-year-old daughter Alicia. Talia is mentally ill, so Jerome is the main caregiver of a child. Jerome notices that Talia is going out and coming home late with her friend Frances. He is not satisfied with that fact, and they get into a fight that leads him to exercise excessive control over Talia’s life. He locks her in the house and even makes sure he knows who she is communicating with via social media and phone. He has been controlling her in the past, but after Talia’s coming home drunk and late he becomes stricter on her. Talia becomes depressed and threatens him with a knife that she will leave with Alicia. A fight ensues in front of Alicia, Jerome gets a 3cm cut on his wrist, and Louis (the neighbor) calls the police when he overhears the fight.
This situation is a clear indication of domestic violence that has developed over time. It is illegal according to section 76 of the Crime Act in terms of having controlling and coercive behavior towards an individual. Jerome did this with Talia, but she also attacked him with a knife and was not taking care of their daughter. The question to be answered here is if controlling and coercive behavior is illegal and what should be the punishment in this case.
Policy Reasons behind Serious Crime Act 2015
According to Serious Crime Act 2015 and Assault Section 76, controlling and coercive behavior in intimate or family relationships is a crime in the mentioned situations. A person commits an offense if s/he repeatedly or continuously engage in controlling or coercive behavior towards another person. If at the time of the action both are personally connected, if the behavior has a serious effect on another person, and if the person knows or ought to know that fact, the behavior will have a serious impact on that person. Jerome had repeatedly and continuously exhibit controlling and coercive behavior towards Talia. The police statements explicitly show that he exercised tight control over Talia, and when she came home drunk, he locked her in the house and controlled her social media and phone conversations. He is also living with Talia and has a connection with her since he is the main caregiver of her child Alicia. Jerome’s controlling behavior towards Talia has serious effects on her as she cuts herself and falls into depression when being locked in the house. She gets so desperate that she even holds a knife towards Jerome threatening to leave him with her child. Therefore, in this situation, Jerome is clearly an offender because of his controlling and coercive behavior towards Talia.
The law also treats such behavior as offensive if both parties are personally connected, if the offender is in an intimate personal relationship with another person, if both live together, if they are the members of the same family, or if they have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other. Being an offender in this situation, Jerome lives with Talia and has an intimate relationship with her because they are the family as they have parental responsibility for their child Alicia.
The law also states that the alleged offender does not commit an offense under this section. At the time of the behavior in question, the offender is responsible for another person according to Part 1 of the Children and Young Person’s Act 1933 especially when the other person is under 16. This part of the law does not apply to Jerome’s and Talia’s situation because Jerome does not have responsibility for Talia, and she is not under 16.
The law states under this section that the offender’s behavior has a serious effect on the other party. If it causes the other party to fear on at least two occasions while violence will be used against them or if it causes the other party to feel serious alarm or distrait, it has a substantial adverse influence on their usual day-to-day activities. Jerome’s controlling behavior caused severe distress for Talia to the point that she cut herself and even felt depressed. Moreover, she also became violent to get away from Jerome’s controlling behavior.
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Legal Arguments that Might Be Raised
In proceedings of the offense under this section, it is a defense for the accused offender to show that in engaging in the behavior in question, the offender believed that he or she was acting for the sake of the other party, or the behavior was reasonable in all the circumstances. Jerome honestly believed that his controlling behavior was in the best interests of Talia and Alicia. After shouting and using abusive behavior towards her for coming home drunk, he calmed down and explained to her that all he did was for her and Alicia’s good. However, the law also states that sufficient evidence of facts is adduced to raise an issue on them, or the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt. If the offender’s behavior causes the other party to fear that violence will be used against them, then this defense cannot be used in court.
If the person guilty of the offense under this section is liable for the conviction on indictment, an imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine or both will be implemented. As for summary conviction, an imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine, or both can be used. In this situation, Jerome’s controlling behavior was an offense that caused serious depression and desperation for Talia; hence. he is liable to face any of the convictions if his defense team does not prove otherwise.
Some of the legal arguments that might be raised by the defense if the case is brought to trial would include the following facts. In his controlling behavior, Jerome was merely acting in the best interests of his family members, Talia and Alicia. Being the principal caregiver of Alicia, all he wanted was ensuring that she was put in the best environment possible. Talia, while coming home drunk and late from partying with her friends, was a risk for the child’s development, and Jerome was simply acting in the best interests of the child and her mother as well. Frankly speaking, Jerome was also acting in the best interests of Talia well as she is mentally unwell and has anxiety problems. The drinking and coming home late that Talia had displayed was a risk to her health as she was not mentally stable. The fact that Jerome also suspected that her friend Frances and her other friends were taking drugs was a cause of alarm for Jerome, and it might have been why he became more controlling over her. The fact that Talia would be around Alicia when intoxicated might have also been one of the reasons why Jerome became exceedingly controlling over her. The defense would also argue that Jerome tried to talk to Talia when she got depressed over his controlling behavior and explain to her that he was worried about her safety, but she attacked him demanding that she would leave with her daughter. It is however complicated in the fact that Talia attacked Jerome, and it can be seen as a sign of deteriorating mental illness. The prosecution would argue that Talia’s attack against Jerome was triggered off by his controlling behavior since she had no option but to resort to violence. Since Jerome had increased his controlling and coercive behavior towards Talia, her depression and mental illness had affected her due to Jerome’s actions that would then prove his guilt.
Jerome’s defense could also argue that he was not controlling or coercive because he was the provider of the home and that he had the right to withdraw pocket money from Talia if he felt that the money that he gave her was not being used for the real purpose. Moreover, Jerome’s defense would argue that Talia was depressed because she was no longer getting money to go for a drink and enjoy drugs with Frances, that this was the reason she fell into depression, and that Jerome was just being controlling her for her own sake so that she would not fall into drug and alcohol addiction. The defense would then partially justify Jerome’s controlling and coercive behavior towards Talia by saying that she needed to be controlled for her sake since she was not feeling mentally well.
Elements of the Offence
According to the Crime Act of 2015, it is true that Jerome had committed a crime. The fact Jerome had constantly exercised controlling behavior against Talia and that he had even restricted her ability to leave the house before she started to spend time with Frances shows that he is controlling. He is the main caregiver of Alicia, and he might have realized that withholding the child’s mother in the house because of her mental illness was right. However, it is wrong of Jerome to have controlled Talia’s movements to such an extent.
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Afterwards, Jerome started to lock Talia in the house making sure that she would not leave the house to spend time with Frances whom he suspected of using drugs and having bad influence on Talia. Jerome might have been justified in his concerns for Talia, but he was wrong while locking her in the house. The fact that he controlled her social media and phone communications indicates that Jerome is being controlling over Talia’s actions, and this is simply illegal as it is controlling and coercive behavior. Jerome did all these things despite Talia was not a child under his care or a minor, and it is also the reason enough for him to be judged as controlling since Talia was capable of being in charge of herself and did not need anyone to take care of her.
When Talia attacked Jerome with a knife, she told him that she was leaving with her daughter. Jerome tried to stop her, and they got into a fight that led to Jerome being cut into his wrist three centimeters in length. Jerome should not have physically attacked Talia, and he indicated he did not respect her for making her own decisions by just not letting her leave. The fact that Jerome was the principal caregiver of Alicia proves that he had every right to keep the child, but he had no right to retain Talia as she was an independent grown-up despite her mental illness. In this situation, Jerome would be guilty of assault towards Talia.
Jerome is also manipulative in how he handles Talia when Talia threatens to go to the police after he abuses her by using obscene language when she comes home late. He shouts at her, then tells her that everything he does is in the best interests of her and Alicia, yet he controls her and even ensures that she does not leave the house. He also manipulates her using money in such a way that he does not give her enough pocket money. He calls her a psycho when she threatens to report him to the police for his coercive and controlling behavior. The fact that he uses abusive language towards Talia shows that he is controlling her. His manipulative and controlling behavior lead Talia to cut herself and even attack him with a knife demanding to leave with her child. He causes her to fall into depression by the way he treats her. According to the Criminal Act of 2015 on controlling and coercive behavior, it is illegal and it is an offense. It can lead Jerome to be convicted under Section 76 because of his criminal offense of controlling and coercive actions towards Talia whom he was living with and had a family relationship with as he is the main caregiver of Talia’s daughter.
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Jerome also attacked Talia when she had a knife and was demanding to leave the house with her child. The fact that he attacked her and got a 3cm cut on his wrist indicates that he was violent somehow, and that it would have put Talia in fear of her life which again, according to Section 76, would have found Jerome at fault. On the other hand, in this situation, the fact that Talia had a knife and was using it to threaten Jerome could also be regarded as domestic violence on her part as she was using weapon to get what she wanted. Talia was also wrong in coming home drunk and late while she had a child she needed to care for. In this case, Talia could also be fined for criminal acts against Jerome since he even got hurt in the fight. She was also cutting herself in the house with a razor while Alicia was nearby. It indicates that she is an irresponsible mother or unwell mentally and is not fit to be a mother of Alicia, therefore justifying the court’s decision to hand over primary caregiver duties to Jerome.
The fact that they both were fighting in front of the child caused trauma to Alicia as she screamed and cried. This made a concerned neighbor Louis to call the police is an indication that the child was not growing up in proper environment. Both Jerome and Talia were not conducting themselves as responsible parents.
In conclusion, both Jerome and Talia were wrong in this situation. However, Talia’s offenses could be termed as consequences of her mental illness. On the other hand, being controlling and coercing to Talia and even causing her emotional and physical distress, Jerome should be convicted as he had committed an offense. However, the court would have to consider that Jerome was doing it in the best interests of Talia and Alicia and is the main caregiver for Alicia. Anyway, it would be in the best interests of the child that Jerome is still available to take care of her even after his conviction. Therefore, a fine would be an appropriate punishment for Jerome so that his crime against Talia can be penalized, but he would still be able to take care of Talia and her child.