Domestic Violence Offences

Queensland takes a tough stance on domestic violence offences.  There is a zero-tolerance policy for perpetrators of domestic violence and our laws, and penalties that are imposed for breaches of our laws by the courts reflect this.

Being charged with a domestic violence offence is serious.  You should speak with an experienced criminal defence lawyer at the earliest opportunity, if you are charged with one of the below offences, to ensure your rights are protected. 

Choking, strangulation or suffocation in a domestic setting

The offence of choking, suffocation or strangulation in a domestic setting was introduced in Queensland in May 2016, with an aim to acknowledge that choking a partner can have fatal consequences and reduce escalating actions of domestic violence.  The Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland found that strangulation was a key predictor of domestic homicide and that an appropriate penalty should apply to account for the increased risk of escalated behaviour to the victim.  

Under section 315A of the Criminal Code Act 1899, a person commits a crime if they unlawfully choke, suffocate or strangle another person without their consent, if they are in a domestic relationship with that person, or otherwise are in a family relationship or an informal care relationship. 

This charge is “indictable” which means that it is too serious to be finalised in the Magistrates Court and must be committed to the District Court where it will be finalised by way of a trial if an accused person is pleading not guilty, or a sentence, if they are pleading guilty. 

There are some possible defences to this charge, which include duress, and self-defence. 

If you have been charged with this offence, you must seek legal advice from an experienced criminal defence solicitor as soon as possible. 

Other domestic violence offences include contravention of a domestic violence order and contravention of a police protection notice

 

 

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Domestic violence in Queensland has a broad definition, and under legislation is defined as behaviour that is:

  • Physically or sexually abusive;
  • Emotionally or psychologically abusive;
  • Economically abusive;
  • Threatening; 
  • Coercive; or
  • In any way controlling, or dominating, causing the victim to fear for their safety or wellbeing.
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After the application is filed and the matter is given a Court date, the Respondent generally has the following options:

  • Consent to the order being made in the conditions proposed;
  • Consent to the order but attempt to negotiate some of the conditions;
  • Request an adjournment to seek legal advice; or
  • Oppose the order being made. 

Contravention of a domestic violence order

It is not a criminal offence to have a domestic violence order made against you, if you breach that order, you can however be charged with a criminal offence.  If you are a respondent to a domestic violence order (“DVO”), and you have been served with or made aware of that order, it is a criminal offence under section 177 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 to breach that order. 

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All domestic violence orders contain the standard condition that a respondent must be of good behaviour towards the aggrieved and not commit domestic violence against the aggrieved during the period of the order.  Other common conditions include conditions that a respondent not contact, ask someone else to contact, locate or approach the aggrieved during the period of the order. 

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Actions of domestic violence will always constitute a breach of a DVO.  Domestic violence is not just physical abuse, but it extends to emotional abuse, and coercive or controlling behaviours.  Other ways a DVO can be breached is by breaking the no contact or no approach conditions of an order.  It is important to note that in cases where a “no contact condition” is breached, but it was the aggrieved that initiated the contact, a respondent is still committing an offence by continuing that contact. 

 

Even seemingly harmless behaviours can constitute a breach of a DVO, such as asking a friend to contact the aggrieved for you, or calling to wish them a happy birthday. 

There are circumstances where either party to an order can apply to the court to have conditions of a DVO varied. 

Respondents who breach a domestic violence order face a maximum penalty of up to 120 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment.  This maximum penalty increases to 240 penalty units or 5 years imprisonment if the offender has previously breached a DVO in the preceding 5 years.  The likely outcome that you will face if charged with this offence will depend entirely on the circumstances of the breach, your background, your criminal history, when the order was made and when the breach occurred, whether there have been any previous breaches, and any other relevant circumstances that the court considers. 

Contravention of a police protection notice

A police protection notice (“PPN”)  is an on the spot notice issued by police generally whilst investigating a domestic violence offence.  They typically remain in force to provide temporary protection to an aggrieved person until the matter is heard in court, or an investigation is concluded. 

Like a domestic violence order, they contain similar conditions, such as not committing domestic violence against the aggrieved, and no contact and no approach conditions.  They can often contain “ouster” conditions, requiring a respondent to leave the residence that the aggrieved resides back, even if the respondent lives there too. 

Under section 178 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 it is an offence to breach a police protection notice.  The maximum penalty is a fine of 120 penalty units or face up to 3 years imprisonment.

If you are charged with a domestic violence offence, you need a criminal lawyer by your side. 

Coates Davey Solicitors are criminal lawyers who have experience in defending domestic violence charges.  Due to the severity of the penalties imposed, and the zero-tolerance stance that Queensland has, it is important to engage an experienced criminal defence lawyer who can comprehensively review your case, guide you through your options, and defend your rights in court.

Our domestic violence lawyers appear in all courts throughout South East Queensland.

 

To have a confidential discussion with our domestic violence team today

telephone us on 07 3181 5668 or

contact us at info@coatesdaveysolicitors.com.au

If you are in immediate danger, please call 000 in an emergency or 1800 RESPECT for support.

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