Domestic violence related offences are becoming increasingly serious in the view of public, the police and the courts. The Queensland Government recently introduced changes to the laws for bail, requiring people charged with certain domestic violence offences to show cause to the Court as to why they should be granted bail. Penalties for these offences were also recently increased, heightening both fines and periods of imprisonment.
Under Queensland law, domestic violence has a wide definition. It includes:
Domestic violence does not have to be between spouses. Domestic violence can be against any person with whom you have a romantic relationship with, a child or other relative, or a person for whom you assist in the care for. This is referred to as a “relevant relationship”.
It is therefore important to understand how these offences can arise. If the police or an individual are seeking to place you under a domestic violence order or an order has already been made against you, it is essential to know your legal rights and responsibilities.
A domestic violence order or “DVO” can be sought by any person connected to you by a relevant relationship, known as the “aggrieved”, or by the police. An application for a DVO must be brought before a Magistrate. As the “respondent” to the application, a copy must be provided to you before the Court can make a determination.
A DVO includes a condition that the respondent be of good behaviour to the aggrieved and not commit domestic violence against that person. A person making an application may also seek for further conditions to be included on the order, such as:
If you agree to the application, the Magistrate will make the order. If you do not agree, the matter will be set down for a hearing to give both you and the maker of the application (the police or the aggrieved) the opportunity to present evidence. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Magistrate will make a determination as to whether or not the application is successful. If so, the order will be made. If not, the application will be dismissed.
It is important to know your rights before going to court. We can assist with advice and represent you in court. Call or email us to discuss your matter.
Once a DVO is put in place, you are required to abide by the conditions of the order. If you fail to do so and breach the conditions of the order, you may be charged with contravention of a domestic violence order. This is a serious offence that carries a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment. If within the past 5 years you have previously been convicted of a domestic violence offence, the maximum is increased to 5 years imprisonment.
If an offence is alleged to have occurred in a domestic violence situation, that offence may also be declared as a domestic violence offence. This can apply to any offence in Queensland such as assault, stealing or willful damage, if the Court is satisfied that the offence occurred in the context of domestic violence. When this occurs, the Court must also record the offence as being a domestic violence offence on a person’s criminal history. This has the effect of increasing the penalties for future domestic violence offences.
In sentencing, a Court must consider the mitigating and aggravating features of an offence and the person charged. This can be viewed as the arguments for and against a person. The Courts must view domestic violence as an aggravating feature when sentencing a person to who is charged with a domestic violence offence.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers
Level 2, 303 Adelaide Street, Brisbane
Ph: +617 3229 4459
Fax: +617 3211 9311