Domestic violence can affect anyone; this is why it’s so important everyone knows how it is legally defined and handled, as well as that family violence lawyers can help you and loved ones. With their help, you can move forward with your life and send a clear message that domestic and family violence is not tolerated in Australia.
What Is Family or Domestic Violence?
Family or domestic violence can take many forms. This can include:
- Physical violence or abuse (or the threat of physical violence), such as denial of sleep or warmth, damage to property or pets, sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse, like name calling or gaslighting
- Social abuse, like controlling all social activities, deliberating creating an environment of unreasonable dependence or isolation
- Financial abuse, taking control of income and assets, or deprivation of basic necessities.
In the eyes of family law and the Family Violence Protection Act 2008, family violence is any violent, threatening, coercive or controlling behaviour. It can occur in current or past family, domestic and intimate relationships and can be perpetrated by intimate partners, family members and non-family carers to those that they are caring for. As a result, actions like the below are just a few examples of what can be classed as domestic violence.
- Intentionally damaging or destroying property, including intentionally causing death or injury to any animal
- Preventing the person or persons from making or keeping connections with their friends, family and community
- Repeated derogatory or hurtful taunts and comments
But Is Domestic Violence a Crime?
According to Australian law, domestic or family violence is a crime. This is because it coerces or controls another person, depriving them of their rights and freedoms, and also makes them fearful. It is a serious issue across the country and it is one that transcends gender, cultural, generational, class and other boundaries. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence and it is important to take action to protect yourself, your loved ones and others.
What Is the Punishment for Domestic Violence in Australia?
The punishment and penalties that can be applicable to a perpetrator of domestic violence depend on the type of domestic violence act and unique circumstances of the situation. Ultimately, the severity of the violence affects the penalty. For instance, if one were to breach an AVO (Apprehended Violence Order), they could be sent to jail for up to 2 years and/or fined $5,500. In contrast, if someone were to use a carriage service, like sending a text or email or making a phone call, to threaten to kill another person, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. At the far end of the scale, intentionally causing grievous bodily harm or wounding someone carries a maximum penalty of 25 years with a non-parole period of 7 years; and murdering a person has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Once a conviction for domestic violence has been recorded, there can also be future consequences for the person. This includes:
- Retroactively recording prior offences as domestic violence offences if they were also of a domestic violence nature.
- Recording the conviction on their criminal record to be used against them in any future bail applications.
- Taking the conviction into account if the person is ever defending a stalking, intimidation or assault charge in the future.
- Police, in future, taking the conviction into consideration when deciding if an AVO is to be issued.
- Negatively impacting Family Court child custody disputes.
While these punishments and penalties are an important step to protect yourself and others, you may need to take more immediate action. In this instance, there are options. AVOs, for example, are available for anyone who fears a possible and proven act of violence from another person.
Typically, AVOs last for two years (this will depend on what the magistrate deems is necessary in your unique circumstance) and come with specific orders that the other party must follow, like not assaulting, threatening, stalking, harassing or intimidating you. There may be additional orders and restrictions included in your AVO, like not allowing the other person to stay in your family home or to not be within a certain distance of your residence, work or school. Further penalties can then apply if this AVO is breached by the other party.
To get an AVO placed against someone, you will need to talk to the court registrar and complete the appropriate application form. You will also need to provide information about the people included in your AVO application, including the person whom you wish the order to be against. As part of this process, it is recommended that you have supporting evidence with you, such as abusive text messages, doctor’s reports from injuries sustained from the person or photos of property damage. This helps to show why the intervention order is needed.
You may wish to obtain legal advice when filing your application for AVO but it is not a requirement. Additionally, it is important to understand that an AVO will not take immediate action. If you feel unsafe and that you need immediate protection, speak with the registrar about getting an interim order or warrant issued.
How a Family Lawyer Can Help You?
Along with helping you apply for restraining orders or AVOs, family violence lawyers can help you present a strong case to see the appropriate penalties applied to the other party.
As part of this, you may need to collect official records, like police statements and medical evidence, and personal documents, including letters and photos. You will likely also need to provide a detailed account of what happened and why you fear it may happen again. Witnesses may help corroborate your story or concerns. Family violence lawyers can help you determine which evidence is most appropriate and provides a clear picture of what happened to allow the court to make an informed ruling.
In addition to putting together your case, your lawyer may also be able to connect you with additional resources as you need them. This can include support services if you are in need, such as housing, or professionals who can assist with the mental load of taking a person to court for family violence, such as a counsellor.
Find Help Today at Duffy & Simon
Duffy & Simon’s family lawyers are experienced, compassionate and skilled when it comes to domestic violence cases. We can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible, while protecting your rights and those of your family. Connect with us today to learn more.
If you believe you or a family member are in immediate danger please contact the police.