Forced marriage becomes a criminal offence from 16 June 2014

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (Commencement No. 2, Transitional and Transitory Provisions) Order 2014 (SI 2014/949), will bring sections 120 and 121 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (ABCPA 2014) into force on 16 June 2014.

Section 120 of the ABCPA 2014 adds a new section 63CA to the Family Law Act 1996, making it a criminal offence to breach a forced marriage protection order. Doing so carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.

Section 121 makes forced marriage a criminal offence. A person commits the offence under section 121(1) if both the following apply:

– He uses violence, threats or any other form of coercion for the purpose of causing another person to enter into a marriage.

– He believes, or ought reasonably to believe, that the conduct may cause the other person to enter into the marriage without free and full consent.

Section 121(2) modifies that definition if the victim lacks capacity to consent to marriage.

In those cases, the offence can be committed by any conduct carried out for the purpose of causing the victim to enter into a marriage, whether or not violence, threats or another form of coercion is used.

Section 121(3) deals with cases that occur outside the jurisdiction, providing that a person commits the offence if he does the following:

– Practises deception, intending to cause another person to leave the United Kingdom.

– Intends the other person to be subjected to conduct outside the United Kingdom that would be an offence under section 121(1) of the ABCPA 2014 if the victim were in England or Wales.

The offence of forced marriage carries a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment.

Source: Legislation.gov: Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (Commencement No. 2, Transitional and Transitory Provisions) Order 2014.

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