Personal Protection Orders (PPOs) serve as a legal safeguard for individuals facing harassment, abuse, or violence within a family context. Issued by courts, these orders aim to protect victims from further harm by restraining perpetrators from engaging in specific behaviours. However, violating a Personal Protection Order can have severe consequences, both legally and personally, for the perpetrator.

Legal Ramifications of Violating a PPO in Singapore

Punishments for violating a Personal Protection Order

Violating a Personal Protection Order is a criminal offence under the Women’s Charter 1961 (“Women’s Charter”). In Singapore, the laws governing matters relating to family violence and the protection orders are found in the Women’s Charter. 

Section 65(8) of the Women’s Charter states that any person who wilfully contravenes a Personal Protection Order or an Expedited Order or any other orders made under section 65(5) of the Women’s Charter such as a Domestic Exclusion Order (except a counselling order), shall be guilty of an offence which is punishable by: 

  1. A fine of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment of not more than 6 months or both; and
  2. In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine of not more than $5,000 or to imprisonment of not more than 12 months or to both.  

Further, under section 65(10) of the Women’s Charter, any person who wilfully contravenes a protection order, in relation to the protection of a vulnerable adult, shall be guilty of an offence which is punishable by: 

  1. A fine not more than $5,000 or imprisonment not more than 12 months or both; and 
  2. In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine of not more than $8,000 or imprisonment of not more than 18 months or both. 

In the event that a party breaches a Personal Protection Order, Expedited Order or Domestic Exclusion Order, you should immediately lodge a police report and the police will investigate the matter. The police will then decide whether to charge the party who breached the order, i.e., to prosecute the person who violated the court order. 

Other possible offences:

While the Police investigate the matter relating to the breach of the protection order, the investigation may disclose other possible offences such as voluntarily causing hurt under section 323 of the Penal Code 1871 (“Penal Code”), wrongful restraint under section 339 of the Penal Code or wrongful confinement under section 340 of the Penal Code. 

Magistrate’s Complaint

If the Police do not pursue the matter after investigations, the individual may consider filing a Magistrate’s Complaint against the party who violated the Personal Protection Order. You will need to prepare the evidence and present a case before the Magistrate, if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are sufficient grounds, the court may direct the police to further investigate the violation of the Personal Protection Order. 

Impact on Family Dynamics

Erosion of familial relationship

Violating a Personal Protection Order can exacerbate existing tensions and strain relationships within the family. It may further traumatize the victim and instil fear and anxiety, undermining their sense of safety and security. Additionally, the breach of a Personal Protection Order can erode trust between family members and hinder efforts to reconcile or rebuild fractured relationships.

Impact on Children

Children, in particular, may be adversely affected by the breach of a Personal Protection Order. Witnessing violence or experiencing its aftermath can have long-lasting psychological effects on children, impairing their emotional well-being and development. Moreover, the perpetrator’s actions may damage their relationship with the children, leading to feelings of resentment, fear, or confusion.

Reason for divorce

It is worth noting that one of the six facts to support the only ground for divorce (i.e., an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage) is that the defendant behaved in such a way that the plaintiff cannot be reasonably expected to live with the defendant. 

Social and Professional Repercussions

Impact on social and personal lives

Violating a Personal Protection Order can also have broader social and professional repercussions for the perpetrator. Public knowledge of the breach may tarnish their reputation within the community or workplace, leading to social ostracism or professional consequences such as loss of employment or restricted access to certain privileges or opportunities. 

Personal issues

Repeated violations of a Personal Protection Order may signal a pattern of behaviour indicative of deeper issues such as anger management problems, substance abuse, or a propensity for violence. This could lead to intervention by social services or court-mandated counselling, or rehabilitation programs aimed at addressing the underlying issues contributing to the misconduct.

Seeking Support and Compliance

  1. Proactive steps: it is essential for both parties involved in a Personal Protection Order to adhere to its terms and conditions. Perpetrators should take proactive steps to comply with the order and refrain from engaging in any behaviours as restrained in the protection order. Seeking support from counselling services, anger management programs, or legal professionals can help perpetrators address underlying issues and mitigate the risk of further breaches.
  2. Support and assistance: for victims of family violence, it is crucial to prioritize their safety and well-being. Seeking assistance from support organisations, counselling services, or even family lawyers can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the process of obtaining and enforcing a Personal Protection Order.

Conclusion

In conclusion, violating a Personal Protection Order carries significant legal, personal, and social consequences for perpetrators. By understanding the gravity of breaching a Personal Protection Order in Singapore and prioritising compliance and accountability, individuals can contribute to fostering safer and healthier environments for themselves and their families.

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