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On July 1, our domestic violence laws underwent their most significant change since the Family Law Act 1996. One of most important of the changes brought about by the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (hereinafter the DVCVA) is that a breach of a non-molestation order 'without reasonable excuse' is now a criminal offence punishable by up to five years' imprisonment (Section 1 of the DVCVA introduces the new Section 42A, Family Law Act 1996). Consequently, it is no longer possible to attach a power of arrest to a non-molestation order, it having been thought that this would be confusing to the police as they would need to know whether they were arresting an individual for a crime or under civil powers. The effect of making the new offence subject to a maximum five year prison term, however, is that it automatically becomes an arrestable offence (s 24(1) Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984).
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