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An injunction is the court order that requires someone to do, or not do, something. In the case of violent or threatening behaviour, two main types of injunctions offer protection to victims: non-molestation orders and occupation orders. A non-molestation order prevents an abuser, or stalker, from coming within a specified distance of the victim or potential victim. Often used in domestic abuse and separation cases, an occupation order specifies who should live in the shared home. This could require one or other party to leave the home, at least for a specified time period, until more permanent resolutions can be reached
Go to your local Citizen's Advice Bureau, the first port of call for many people requiring legal advice. You should receive advice about injunctions, which will help you decide whether the application should be made to the criminal or civil court. If you feel threatened or in immediate danger, a criminal injunction will carry more weight and offer more protection, as an injunction granted by the criminal court can carry a Power of Arrest Order. In the criminal law system, your application to the magistrates' court can be held the same day, without notice, or ex-parte, meaning without the presence of the person to whom the injunction applies. Your solicitor or legal representative should ensure service of this notice to the person to whom the injunction applies. Your injunction might have an attached Power of Arrest Order, which means that should the injunction be breached, the police immediately can arrest the perpetrator and the case will be held in the magistrates' court within 24 hours. Your solicitor should ensure that the police station is given a copy of the Powers of Arrest Order. If you opt for a civil injunction granted in the county court, this normally carries a time limit, though this can be increased, or can carry the stricture, "until further order."
Apply for Legal Aid, in the case of domestic violence. Depending on financial circumstances, you might be asked to make a contribution. Ask the Citizens' Advice Bureau for a list of solicitors in your area who deal with injunctions and who accept Legal Aid cases. In the case of civil injunctions, pick up an application form from the county court office. The county court office will advise you on the cost of applications. Go to the community legal advice website for further information on funding.
Inform the police if the injunction is breached. They can advise you on your next step, or in cases where a Power of Arrest Order is attached, can arrest the person who breaches the injunction immediately. Under the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, all breaches of injunctions constitute criminal offences and go straight to the magistrate's court, even if the original injunction came from the county court.
- In some towns or cities, Legal Aid centres provide an additional source of advice and information.
- You should ensure the best protection for your own safety before applying for an injunction, as the serving of an injunction can, at least temporarily, exacerbate the situation.
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