Do You Go To Jail For Domestic Violence In Australia: Everything You Need to Know
Do you go to jail for domestic violence in Australia?
The short answer is yes. In Australia, domestic violence is taken very seriously, and it is possible to go to jail for this offence.
The specific penalties for domestic violence vary by state and territory, as well as by the severity of the crime.
They can range from fines and good behaviour bonds to imprisonment. Repeat offenders, or those who commit serious acts of violence, are more likely to receive jail time.
However, the actual outcome depends on many factors, including the specifics of the incident, whether it’s a first offence and the court’s judgement.
What are Some Defences to Domestic Violence in Australia?
Do you go to jail for domestic violence in Australia, and what are some defences a defendant can use when charged with domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a serious crime in Australia, as it is globally. It carries severe penalties.
Legal defences to domestic violence charges can be complex and depend heavily on the case’s specific circumstances.
That said, here are a few potential defences that might be utilised, subject to the specifics of the case:
Self-Defence: This can be a defence if the accused protected themselves or another person from harm. The force used in self-defence must be proportionate to the threat faced.
Lack of Evidence: The prosecution must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If insufficient evidence meets this standard, the accused could be acquitted.
False Accusation: This could be a defence if the accused can demonstrate that they were falsely accused of the violence. However, proving a false accusation can be challenging.
Consent: In minimal circumstances, the fact that the alleged victim consented to specific actions might be a defence. However, this is generally not a defence to serious acts of violence.
Mental Impairment: In some cases, a defendant may argue that they were mentally impaired at the time of the incident and, therefore, not legally responsible for their actions. This is a complex area of law and usually requires expert psychiatric evidence.
Duress or Necessity: These are very rare and complex defences, which involve the accused arguing that they were forced to act as they did due to an immediate threat to their life or safety (duress) or to avoid more significant harm (necessity).
Can You Get a Criminal Record for Domestic Violence?
Do you go to jail for domestic violence in Australia, and can you get a criminal record?
Yes, in Australia, as in many other jurisdictions, if you are convicted of a domestic violence offence, this will generally result in a criminal record.
Domestic violence offences can include a range of behaviours, such as physical violence, sexual assault, stalking, intimidation, and harassment, which the courts take very seriously.
Being convicted of a domestic violence offence and having a criminal record can have serious implications.
It can affect future employment prospects, the ability to travel overseas, and eligibility for specific licences, among other things.
It’s also worth noting that even if a domestic violence offence doesn’t result in a criminal conviction, it can still have legal consequences, such as issuing a protection order.
‘Serious offences’ are defined by the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act. Including:
- attempted murder
- offenses related to domestic violence
- an act of stalking or intimidation intended to cause fear of physical or mental harm
- an act of grievous bodily harm or wounding
- intentionally inflicting severe bodily injury on another person
- sexual assault
- aggravated sexual assault
- an aggravated sexual assault in the workplace
- the act of assaulting another with the intention of sexual contact
- touching sexually
- aggravated sexual touching
- under 10 years of age – sexual intercourse
- assaulting a child under the age of ten with the intent to have sexual contact with them
- having sexual relations with a child between the ages of 10 and 16
- under 10 years old – sexual touching
- touching a child between 10 and 16 years old for sexual purposes
- abuse of a child for a long period of time
- offenses involving sexuality and cognitive impairment
What Are the Elements of the Offence?
Who decides if someone is charged, and what are the elements of an offence?
The elements of an offence refer to the specific components that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution for the accused person to be found guilty.
These elements are defined in 3.1 B Criminal Code Act of 1995 and can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific offence.
Actus Reus (guilty act): This refers to the physical act or omission that constitutes the offence. It is the outward manifestation of the crime, such as stealing, causing harm, or damaging property.
The prosecution must prove that the accused person committed the act or omission that constitutes the criminal offence.
Mens Rea (guilty mind): This refers to the mental element or state of mind of the accused person at the time of the offence.
It involves establishing the accused person’s intention, recklessness, or negligence in committing the crime.
The specific mental element required can vary depending on the offence, but common examples include intent, knowledge, or recklessness.
Some offences also have additional elements that need to be proven, such as specific circumstances or a relationship between the parties involved.
It’s important to note that some offences are classified as “strict liability” or offences, which do not require the prosecution to prove men’s rea.
In these cases, the mere act or omission (actus reus) is enough to establish guilt, regardless of the accused person’s intentions or state of mind.
Laws and legal procedures can vary between states and territories in Australia, so consulting with a legal professional for advice on specific cases or offences is essential.
What Happens If You Get Convicted of Domestic Violence in Australia?
What happens if you get convicted of domestic violence? Do you go to jail for domestic violence in Australia?
If you’re convicted of a domestic violence offence in Australia, several outcomes can occur based on the severity of the crime, any past offences, and other contextual factors.
Here are some possible consequences:
Criminal Record: A conviction for domestic violence generally results in a criminal record, which can impact your future regarding potential employment opportunities, travel restrictions, and more.
Imprisonment: Severe or repeat offences could lead to a prison sentence. The length of the sentence would depend on the case’s specifics and jurisdiction.
Fines: In some cases, fines may be imposed as part of the penalty.
Community Service Orders or Good Behaviour Bonds: For less severe offences or first-time offenders, the court may impose a community service order (requiring you to complete a certain number of hours of unpaid work) or a good behaviour bond (requiring you to meet certain conditions and not commit any further offences).
Mandatory Behavioural Programs: The court may order you to attend and complete domestic violence intervention programs or counselling to address the underlying issues that contribute to violent behaviour.
Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) or Domestic Violence Orders (DVOs): Courts can issue these orders to restrict the offender’s behaviour towards the victim. Breaching these conditions can lead to further criminal penalties.
Restrictions on Child Custody or Visitation: Domestic violence convictions can influence family court decisions regarding child custody or visitation rights.
Learn more: How to Deal with Someone with a Victim Complex
What to Expect in Court and How a Domestic Violence Charge is Proven in Court?
What to expect in court, and do you go to jail for domestic violence in Australia
If you’ve been charged with a domestic violence offence, there are many steps and procedures that you can expect in court, and there are specific standards that the prosecution must meet to prove the charge. Here’s a general outline:
What to Expect in Court
First Appearance: At your first court appearance, the charges will be read to you, and you’ll have the opportunity to enter a plea (guilty or not guilty). If you plead guilty, the court will proceed to sentencing. If you plead not guilty, a date will be set for a hearing or trial.
Bail: Depending on the seriousness of the charges, including bail on assault charge, you might be released on bail until the next court date. Bail might come with conditions, such as having no contact with the alleged victim.
Hearing/Trial: If you plead not guilty, your case will eventually go to a hearing or trial. This is where both the prosecution and the defence will present evidence.
Final Verdict: After all the evidence has been presented and arguments made, the judge or magistrate will deliver a verdict. If you’re found guilty, the court will proceed to domestic violence sentencing.
Proving a Domestic Violence Charge
In a criminal trial in Australia, the prosecution’s job is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence. For a domestic violence charge, this typically involves:
Evidence of Violence: The prosecution must show evidence that an act of domestic violence occurred. This could include medical reports, photos of injuries, damaged property, etc.
Witness Testimony: This could come from the victim, neighbours, friends, family, or anyone else who witnessed the violence or its aftermath.
Police Reports: If the police were called, their reports and any evidence they gathered could be used.
Accused’s Admissions: This could be used as evidence if the accused admitted to the violence. This could be an admission to the police, the victim, or someone else.
Do You Go To Jail For Domestic Violence In Australia?
The answer can vary depending on the specifics of your situation. Don’t let uncertainty control your life.
At Justice Family Lawyers, we have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the complexities of domestic violence law.
Don’t face the legal system alone. Take the first step towards understanding your legal position and the potential outcomes of your case.
Contact us today to discuss ‘Do you go to jail for domestic violence in Australia?’ with our team of skilled professionals, and let us guide you through this challenging time.
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.