Domestic Abuse (Jersey) Law 2022 Comes into Force

June 28, 2023

In 2021, the Police attended 1,151 incidents involving allegations of domestic violence; 430 of which resulted in criminal convictions. Whilst the rate of reports of incidents appears to have dropped since 2019, domestic abuse remains a major issue in the Island with 15% of all reported crimes involving an element of domestic abuse. The Domestic Abuse (Jersey) Law 2022 introduces the specific offence of “domestic abuse” to the Jersey statute book which carries a penalty of up to 5 years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

A person commits domestic abuse towards another if:

  • The perpetrator and the victim are both aged over 16;
  • They are personally connected to each other;
  • The behaviour is “abusive”;
  • The behaviour consists of more than one act (or failure to act); and
  • The behaviour causes, or is reasonably likely to cause, harm to the victim.

A victim and the perpetrator are “personally connected” if they are, or have been, married, in a civil partnership, engaged, or in an intimate personal relationship, they are or have been the parents of the same child or share parental responsibility for a child.

The definition of domestic abuse in the 2022 Law is extremely wide. Behaviour is abusive if it involves physical or sexual abuse, violence or threats, harassment or neglect and an abusive act can be committed by the doing, saying or communicating of something and/or intentionally failing to do something or say something. The offence of domestic abuse will be made out where a person engages in such behaviour either intentionally or recklessly.

Any offence of domestic abuse will be aggravated if the abuse is committed in the presence of a child, is directed towards a child or pregnant person or if the perpetrator made use of a child in directing the abuse at their victim.

Crucially, the 2022 Law allows the Jersey authorities to investigate and prosecute offences which occurred outside of Jersey if the perpetrator is habitually resident in Jersey. This will be a source of great comfort to those who suffer domestic abuse whilst, for example, they are away from the Island on holiday.

In addition to creating a new offence, the 2022 Law also allows the Court to issue a Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (a “DAPO”) against any person over the age of 18 who is convicted of an offence under the Law. Such order will only be granted where the Court considers that, on the balance of probabilities, there is a risk of the victim suffering further domestic abuse at the hands of the convicted person and it is necessary to issue the DAPO to protect the victim.

A DAPO is akin to a restraining order in many respects and may prevent a person convicted of domestic abuse from contacting or approaching their victim, from coming within a certain distance of the victim or their home or place of work. That said DAPOs can go further than restraining orders in that they can include a requirement to attend specified counselling or education.

The Court must specify the duration of the DAPO at the time it is made but it is open to the Court to impose an order which will remain in effect until further order of the Court. DAPOs can also include notification requirements which require a convicted person to notify an authorised officer of all of their aliases and their place of residence.

Failure to comply with the terms of a DAPO is a criminal offence which can attract a sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

The damaging effects of domestic abuse are far-reaching and have not only the ability to affect the direct victims but also children who are caught in the crossfire. The introduction of the 2022 Law represents a significant and welcomed development in the fight against domestic abuse.

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