A non-molestation order is a form of injunction that protects people from those that are abusing them (or causing others to abuse them). This type of order stops a person or their children from being harmed, intimidated, harassed, pestered or threatened by:
- Someone that they have or have had a relationship with - this includes a spouse, civil partner, (former) fiancé(e), partner of more than six months
- A family member
- Someone they live with or previously lived with
They are used as a tool to protect victims of domestic abuse.
Changes to the legislation means that a breach of a non-molestation order is now a criminal offence, and this means that there is a power of arrest automatically applied to the order. Previously, a breach of a non-molestation order would only constitute an offence if a power of arrest was attached to the order.
A person who “without reasonable excuse” does anything that they are prohibited from doing by a non-molestation order is guilty of an offence. Non-molestation orders come into force once they have been served on the person bound by the order. Therefore, an individual cannot breach a non-molestation order that they are not aware of.
The Sentencing Guidelines dictate that the typical range of sentence for breach of a non-molestation can vary from a fine to four years’ custody, with a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment. A breach may result in a longer sentence if there are aggravating factors, including:
- The breach was committed shortly after the order was made
- The offender has a history of disobedience to court orders
- The breach involved a further offence (not separately prosecuted)
- Contact arrangements with a child was used to instigate the offence
- The breach resulted in the victim being forced to leave their home
- Children or family members were impacted
- The victim is particularly vulnerable
- The offender takes steps to prevent victim from reporting an incident or seeking assistance
- The offence was committed on licence or while subject to post sentence supervision
The term of a non-molestation order will be set out within the order. They are usually granted for six or 12 months. Terms over six months will only be appropriate in cases of severe, or long-term abuse. The applicant can apply to have the order extended so long as the order has not expired if they feel their safety would be put at risk when the order ends.
A conviction will appear on your criminal record, and any DBS check, until it is spent. Once spent, the conviction or caution does not need to be disclosed when applying for:
- Most jobs
- Educational courses
The time period before the conviction is spent depends on the length and type of the punishment, and whether the offender was over 18. If the offender is sentenced to more than four years in prison for the breach, their conviction will never be spent, and they will always have to disclose it as part of their criminal record. Moreover, there is a list of specified jobs for which employers can make a standard or enhanced DBS check, which will show both spent and unspent convictions. These jobs include:
- Work with children or health and social care
- Work in law enforcement and the legal system
- High-level finance positions
- Certain regulated professions
These employers will see the non-molestation breach, regardless of how much time has elapsed.
Your record on the Police National Computer (PNC) is distinct from your criminal record. The PNC record includes all:
- Spent and unspent convictions
- Final warnings
- Penalty notices
The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.