Sentencing domestic violence
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 than if it hadn’t happened in a domestic and family violence situation.
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.
We will deliver our final report to the Attorney-General by 30 September 2025.
Research brief – Domestic violence as an aggravating factor
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