DEFENDING ALLEGATIONS OF Controlling & Coercive Behaviour 

If you have found yourself being accused of controlling or coercive behaviour and need to understand how you can defend against these allegations, Draycott Browne provide a wealth of experience and advice to help you navigate these claims

Here at Draycott Browne solicitors, our renowned defence solicitors are highly experienced in providing bespoke and successful defences to clients who have been accused or charged with exhibiting controlling or coercive behaviour.

Usually, charges of controlling or coercive behaviour are linked to allegations of assault or domestic abuse and, by their nature, are extremely complex and serious. Depending on the severity of the supposed crime that has been carried out, persons who are found guilty could face a significant custodial sentence. Given the severity of such charges, it is imperative that you obtain the legal support of a defence solicitor who is uniquely experienced in this area of law.

As one of the leading solicitor teams in the country, we have successfully defended clients throughout the UK, establishing defences that have been curated and tailored to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Given our experience in supporting clients, we understand how challenging being accused of coercive or controlling behaviour can be, which is why we'll be with you every step of the way throughout your case.

What is controlling or coercive behaviour?

According to UK Law, controlling or coercive behaviour can be defined as any behaviour that deliberately intends to harm, punish, or frighten another person by causing them to feel subordinate to and dependent on their abuser. Introduced as part of Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act in 2015, the offence is comprised of four key elements, all of which must be satisfied in order for the accused to be charged with the offence. The four elements are:

  • That the controlling and coercive behaviour must have been repeatedly and continuously displayed
  • That, at the time the behaviour is displayed, the individuals involved must be 'personally' connected to one another, either because they are in a relationship with one another, or because they are living together as people who were formerly in a relationship or as siblings or relatives
  • That the behaviour must have had a serious impact on the other person
  • That the perpetrator must have known, or should ought to have known, the severe impact that their control and coercion would have on their victim.

The final element is particularly important since it must be shown that the behaviour had a serious effect on the victim. A person is said to have suffered a serious effect if they have been caused, on at least two occasions, to fear that either violence will be used against them if they do not comply with the demands being made, with their fear ultimately having a substantial effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities freely without stress or fear.

Controlling or coercive behaviour often involves:

  • Isolating victims from their friends or families by denying them the right to socialise with other people
  • Withholding resources, such as money, to limit the victim's personal freedom
  • Threatening behaviour
  • Assault
  • Humiliation
  • Intimidation
  • Engaging in acts of criminal damage
  • Disclosing personal information without the victim's consent
  • Controlling a victim's online presence

The effects of controlling and coercive can include:

  • A significant decline in a person's mental and physical health
  • A significant alteration to the person's mealtime or domestic responsibilities
  • A serious effect on the victim's ability to attend work, school, or college regularly
  • A desire or actual action to put into place safeguarding steps that protect the victim and any children they may have

Depending on the individual nature of the offence being brought, cases of controlling and coercive behaviour can be held in either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. In some cases, the defendant may be able to choose where the case will be heard.

The Magistrate’s Court is governed by Magistrates, public volunteers who preside over proceedings and judge and sentence accordingly. A jury is not present. If found guilty, those tried in a Magistrates Court could receive a term of imprisonment that does not exceed six months, a fine, or both.

In the Crown Court, where a trial will be held before a jury and a qualified legal judge, the sentence could be up to five years in prison, and the defendant could be ordered to pay a fine.

Our solicitors have defended cases of coercive and controlling behaviour at both courts and can offer advice and guidance on where you should have your trial held if you are offered a choice in the matter.

How do we defend a Controlling and Coercive Behaviour case?

After being instructed, your solicitor will immediately begin to build a defence case that will be aimed at ensuring the best possible outcome for you based on the unique circumstances of your case. In most cases, your solicitor will endeavour to show that your behaviour was warranted since it was intended to protect the accuser's interest in some way. For example, you may have needed to control some aspects of the accuser's life in order for them to live safely.

The risk of being arrested for a accusation of controlling or coercive behaviour is often quite high, but the chances of being charged are reduced. However, as with any case, a robust case is required to undermine the allegations that have been brought onto you.

As well as this, there is often a risk of being charged with lesser or alternative offences such as harassment or public order offences. Due to this it’s vital that you bring an experienced solicitor onboard to build a defence based on the evidence available.

If you have not yet been arrested or charged but are suspicious that an allegation of coercive or controlling behaviour may be made against you, contact our solicitors for support. Many defendants believe that asking for legal help before a charge has been officially made is a sign of guilt, but this is not the case; rather, it is a sensible step that will help the individual more confidently navigate the complex legal framework that governs arrests and charges.

Some people charged with these offences will be hardened criminals- there is too much emphasis on the innocent/wrongly accused here.


The Controlling Behaviour Lawyers at Draycott Browne, are widely recognised as one of the North of England's leading team of criminal defence lawyers with specialist criminal investigation expertise.

Contact us today If you would like us to contact you, simply fill in our online enquiry form and a member of the team will be in touch as soon as possible.

Our team are on-hand to discuss your case with you, and prepare a tailored and bespoke defence.

As one of the UK's foremost Criminal Defence Law Firms, we are highly regarded nationally across the legal profession and noted for consistently delivering positive results. Our team possess a breadth of technical knowledge and experience in criminal investigations and will provide you with the expertise needed throughout the process.

Our team regularly act for clients in London and throughout Midlands and of course the North West including clients from Birmingham and Liverpool. By entrusting us, you can be assured that you will be working with a team of highly skilled and experienced Coercive Behaviour Lawyers who have a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the law.

Our legal team is available 7 days a week. For expert legal advice or representation, call Draycott Browne today.

When you are facing the stiffest challenge, you cannot afford to settle for anything less than Draycott Browne.

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