What are legitimate reasons for breaching a non-molestation order?

In short, there are no legitimate reasons for breaching a non-molestation order, notwithstanding an emergency such as your children’s hospitalisation or some other illness. But you can limit the risks by dealing with a breach appropriately.

Accidental breaches

Accidental breaches can be a problem, because there are accidents, and then there are so-called “accidents” that may not be as such in reality. If your ex complains about a breach, either to the police or to the court, then you will be forced into the position of defending your actions. Here, we discuss breaching a non-molestation order, and look at the article of the man from Stoke on Trent who was found guilty of breaching a non-molestation order, despite saying bumping into his ex was a coincidence.

Was it an accident or simply coincidence?

Imagine the scenario: you are subject to a non-molestation order, and you and your ex used to go to a particular supermarket each week on a specific day after work. Say you went to the store at that time, somewhere in the back of your mind, you may even have suspected your ex might be shopping. Odds are that the court is unlikely to consider this was an accident or coincidental. The judge will probably think you went there purposefully hoping to bump into your ex, whether or not that was your intention. Of course, you might argue that you also went out of habit, and hope the judge accepts your explanation, but wouldn’t it be better to simply avoid the potential for breach in the first place? The wiser approach generally is to actively try to prevent any accidental or coincidental crossing of paths by at least considering whether there are places that your ex may be at certain times of the day and then avoiding those overlaps wherever possible.

What should I do if there is a non-molestation order against me and I bump into my ex?

How you react to a potential accidental breach is important. If you continue to stay in the same place once you realise your ex is present, then you will be deemed to have specifically chosen to breach the order at that point. It will no longer be considered an accident if you remain within the presence of your ex, even if it was initially accidental. So, what began as an accident turns into an intentional breach. If you left immediately, then this would support your argument that it was coincidental, and that you had no intention of breaching the order.

Example: A Stoke on Trent dad guilty of breaching non-molestation order

A dad from Stoke on Trent breached the terms of his non-molestation order when he approached his son at Splash Landings in Alton Towers. Soon after separating, Troy Harris called his ex multiple times a day, which caused her to change her phone, he sent emails and turned up at their son’s school, which he was not allowed to do. He was also seen to drive past the former family home on several occasions. Following this behaviour, Mr Harris was made the subject of a non-molestation order preventing him from having any contact with his ex and visiting the child’s school. When he turned up at Splash Landings, Mr Harris told his former partner that he was not allowed to go to the school or house, but he could go anywhere else. Mr Harris was found guilty of breaching the non-molestation order and handed a 12 month community order with a rehabilitation activity requirement.

The penalties for breaching non-molestation order

Breaching a non-molestation order is a criminal offence, meaning an individual can be arrested for a breach whether or not they were aware of it without needing to have committed any other criminal activity. The penalties can be severe and if found guilty, you could face up to five years in prison, although this is rare.  If you have breached an order, it is sensible to discuss matters further with a specialist solicitor who can advise you as to the best course of action.


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