If you have been charged with a domestic violence offence, you are advised to contact a domestic violence lawyer immediately. This is an extremely serious charge and if convicted you can face many years in jail. You may even have to undergo a Violence Order (VO) in the District Court. AVO is a court order that prohibits the abuser from coming within a certain distance of the victim. Domestic violence first offence is considered a summary offence and subject to a lighter sentencing regime.
The sentencing guidelines for domestic violence offences have been developed following the introduction of the Domestic Violence Act 1999. The 1999 Act introduced new sentencing guidelines for various types of domestic violence offences. The Serious Offences Act also contained several changes to the way that sentencing for sexual and domestic violence crimes are handled. As, well as the VO and other sentencing provisions, the Act also contained sections that address issues surrounding mitigating circumstances and self-represented offences.
The Criminal Law Act 1989 makes it possible for a sentencing judge to impose a suspended sentence on an offending individual. The effect of this sentencing provision is that an offender will be able to apply for a pardon after serving part of their jail term. pardon means an opportunity to apply for release from jail following the completion of any custodial sentence provided for the offence. For a domestic violence offence, a suspended sentence is usually the most appropriate form of sentencing. The imposition of a two-year minimum suspended sentence along with a five-year intensive probation period is usually the maximum that a court may order.
If the court finds that the accused is guilty of a domestic violence offence, they must either provide evidence that they intended to inflict serious injury on the victim or face the crown’s justice of the peace applying the domestic violence offence. Where the accused has intended to inflict serious injury, the court must find them liable to compensate the victim for that loss. The amount awarded is known as damages. This can be compensated for either out of court fines or for providing a lump sum payment to the victim. However, compensation for an injury does not include actual costs incurred by the victim in the treatment of the injury.
The crown’s justice of the peace court may only be imposed for an assault that causes actual bodily harm to another person. It may also include some circumstances where “aggravation of circumstance” can apply, which is to say that it might have been reasonably foreseeable to the accused. In some cases, a domestic violence offence can be dealt with through the courts without the need for a crown’s justice of the peace. In Rev B, the court was of the view that the defendant had intended to cause bodily injury to the victim but that he failed to do so and suffered an only personal injury. He was guilty of assault, but not of murder.
Another example of a domestic violence offence that might result in a court order to enter a protection order is when a domestic violence offender commits offences such as common assault, common domestic violence and sexual assault. Where the offences are committed by a group or one person, the maximum period of imprisonment for these offences is five years. Common assault, on the other hand, can attract a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment. Sexual assault can result in a prison sentence of two years.
A conviction for any of the above offences would have a further negative effect where a victim wants to apply for financial compensation. For example, if a domestic violence court finds a member of the offending group to be financially liable for the injury of the victim, then this will be taken into account when computing for their sentence. If, however, the court does not find the offender responsible for the victim’s injury, they are entitled to appeal the decision at the court of appeal. Similarly, where the jury has returned a guilty verdict but the victim then applies for compensation, if the Court of Appeal errs about the amount awarded, then they may also be liable to pay damages to the victim.
The above are just some of the types of domestic violence offences that can attract a custodial sentence. In some cases, the judge or magistrates will make an application for an extended-term. This could be due to circumstances that have arisen from the commission of the offence. Where serious domestic violence is present, the extended-term provided is very likely to be applied. However, for most other cases, the sentencing judge will give a minimum sentence. They will take into account the seriousness of the offending act, the victim’s age and the nature of the offending domestic violence.