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Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021

Section 16: What amounts to the aggravation

Section 16 sets out the conditions required for the domestic abuse aggravator to apply.  This requires that a reasonable person would consider that the offence would be likely to cause the accused’s partner or a connected person to suffer physical or psychological harm (including fear, alarm and distress).  A further condition is that the accused either intended the offence to cause their partner/connected person to suffer physical or psychological harm, or was reckless as to whether or not this would be caused.

Subsection (3) provides that the offence itself does not have to have been committed against the accused’s partner/connected person, rather it can be against a third party with the purpose of abusing their partner or a connected person.  Also harm does not have to have been caused to the partner/connected person as a result of the offence, rather that a reasonable person would consider that harm would be likely to be caused.  As such, the aggravation could be in effect where, for example, the accused commits criminal damage against the friend of their partner, or a connected person, with the intent of causing psychological harm to their partner or a connected person.  Subsection (4) ensures that evidence of actual harm remains relevant in the case.

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Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

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