Sentencing domestic violence

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Domestic violence as an aggravating factor

In May 2016, a new law was passed meaning a court, if it decides that an offence is a domestic violence offence, must treat the offence as being more serious.

This might mean, for example, the person who commits the offence is at greater risk of receiving a prison sentence.

This is called an ‘aggravating factor’.

Offences recorded as a 'domestic violence offence’ will appear in a person’s criminal history.

This means if the person commits another domestic violence offence in future, the court will know they have a pattern of domestic violence offending and can consider this when deciding the sentence.

What we will review

We have been asked to review this law to see how courts are using it and whether it is causing any problems in practice.

We will find out if domestic violence offences are being sentenced differently since the law has changed.

We will also ask victim-survivors of domestic violence if they have been more satisfied with sentencing when courts have used this new law.

We have also been asked to look at what sentences people are given for breaching a domestic violence order by not following the conditions of the order, which is a criminal offence.

The government increased the maximum penalties for this offence in 2015 to:

  • 240 penalty units ($34, 500) or 5 years imprisonment if within 5 years of the offence the person has previously been convicted of a domestic violence offence; or
  • 120 penalty units ($17, 250) or 3 years imprisonment.

We will find out if these increases have made any difference.

Next steps

An image of a timeline

Preliminary submissions have now closed and are available to read on our website.

A Consultation Paper on the aggravating factor for domestic and family violence offences is due to be released in early 2025.

Key dates

We will deliver our final report to the Attorney-General by 30 September 2025.

Supporting information

Background Paper 2, Review of the aggravating factor for domestic and family violence offences: About the Terms of Reference – Part 2

Background information – sentencing domestic violence offences

Terms of reference

Research brief – Domestic violence as an aggravating factor

Sentencing spotlight on stalking

Sentencing spotlight on choking, suffocation or strangulation in a domestic setting