Domestic crime is an area of Scots criminal law that is viewed as high priority by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland at present. Crown public policy dictates that domestic crimes should be prosecuted at all costs and it is very unlikely that any allegation of domestic crime will escape the court system.

Any crime that takes place against a ‘domestic’ background can be considered ‘domestically aggravated’. The most common examples are the crimes of domestic assault and domestic breach of the peace. Domestic crimes are of such high priority that in courts such as Glasgow Sheriff Court there are specific courts assigned to deal with domestic cases only.

Given the nature of domestic crimes it is in the interests of justice that accused persons are represented by solicitors. This is to avoid an accused cross-examining a family member who may have complained of a crime.

Trials for domestic matters can be incredibly complex. They often involve reluctant witnesses and the Procurator Fiscal will require to follow complex legal procedures to elicit the evidence of statements previously made to police. It is therefore essential to instruct a specialist criminal lawyer to conduct your defence if you stand accused of a domestic crime.

There are further considerations to be made before a domestic case even reaches court. At present the policy of Police Scotland in relation to domestic matters is to detain anyone accused of a domestic crime by a single credible witness. This means that as soon as a complaint is made to the police about a domestic matter the alleged offender will be taken to a police station for questioning. It is crucial at this stage to take advice from a solicitor as there are issues regarding corroboration of the crime in question that often arise.

Due to the high public interest in domestic crimes the courts take a particularly dim view of convicted persons. Sentences for domestic crimes are more severe as the domestic element is considered an ‘aggravation’ of the particular crime. A person convicted of a domestic crime can often be given a custodial sentence. It is crucial to have a specialist criminal lawyer dealing with any domestic case to minimise the risk of a custodial sentence if convicted.

McCusker, McElroy & Gallanagh have conducted many domestic cases with regular acquittals at trial. This area of the law has attracted significant attention from the authorities in recent times. It has never been more important that you are properly represented and advised of your rights when charged with a domestic crime.