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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWS

The Queensland government has recently introduced changes to the law and protections in regards to domestic violence in Queensland.

These changes include:

  • Increasing the maximum penalty for repeated breaches of domestic violence orders.
  • For a first time breach the maximum penalty is now three years.
  • For a subsequent breach the maximum penalty is now five years imprisonment.
  • A new definition of ‘domestic violence offence’ has been inserted into the Queensland Criminal Code Act which may be attached to any offence. For example, any offence may be considered to be a domestic violence offence e.g. wilful damage-DV.
  • Courts now have the discretion to declare previous entries on an offender’s criminal history as domestic violence offences. The purpose of this is to flag to the police and to the Courts that the individual in question has a history of domestic violence.
  • Domestic violence victims will now automatically be special witnesses under the Evidence Act. This means if domestic violence victims are required to give evidence in court, the Court impose additional orders and protections. Examples of these protections may include:
    1. That the accused be excluded from the room whilst the special witness is giving evidence
    2. That the special witness may be able to give evidence by phone or video-link
    3. That, while the special witness is giving evidence, all persons other than those specified by the court be excluded from the courtroom
    4. That a support person be present whilst the special witness is giving evidence.

In addition to these amendments which are now in force, the Queensland Government is proposing the following amendments –

  • The Queensland Government are seeking to include non-fatal strangulation an offence under the Criminal Code.
  • It is suggested that the offence of strangulation would have a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.
  • The Queensland Government are also seeking to introduce amendments to the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 to make domestic violence an aggravating factor on sentence.

Howden Saggers Lawyers are experienced in all domestic violence matters. If you are suffering from Domestic violence, our team of solicitors can assist you in applying for a domestic violence order to protect yourself and your family. We will work with you through all stages of this process.

We can also assist when an application for a domestic violence order is made against you. It is important to note that being subject to a domestic violence order is not a criminal offence. However, there are significant ramifications that may stem from such an order. Some people chose to consent to an order to avoid what they believe is unnecessary stress and hardship. However, it is always best to seek legal advice before consenting to an order. Alternatively, if you believe the application is unreasonable and unfounded, we are able to assist you in contesting it.

Whether you are looking to apply for a domestic violence order, or seeking advice in responding to an order, we are happy to help.

Howden Saggers lawyers also are experienced in representing those that have breached a domestic violence order and are looking for legal representation.

 

Written by Solicitor Emily Lewsey (B.Env.Sc, LL.B.(Hons), Grad Dip LP)