According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, between 80 to 100 Australian women die each year at the hands of their male partners. In domestic violence situations, strangulation is considered as a red flag for serious future violence and can even be an indicator for a future fatal incident. NSW’s homicide statistics show that a quarter of all murder victims had previously been a victim of strangulation prior to their death. Research has shown that women who have previously been strangled by their partner are 8 times more likely to be killed by that partner.
Strangulation is currently an offence under section 37 of the Crimes Act NSW 1900. However, the current offence requires that the victim be strangled to the point of losing consciousness, or until they are rendered incapable of resisting and that the perpetrator is reckless as to rendering the victim unconscious or unable to resist. Not only does this create an impossible burden of proof on the Prosecution, it does not capture the majority of strangulation offences that occur in domestic violence situations. When strangulation occurs in domestic violence situations, it is not necessarily done with the intention of rendering the victim unconscious, and therefore an offence under this section is unlikely to be proven. In instances where an offence of strangulation cannot be proven, a lesser charge of assault is pursued by the Prosecution, which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.
In an increased focus on domestic violence, the NSW Government has introduced the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 to Parliament to create a new offence of intentionally choking, suffocating or strangling a person without consent. The offence will be punishable by a maximum term of 5 years imprisonment. It is intended that the removal of the requirement that the victim be rendered unconscious or unable to resist and captures domestic violence situations whereby the victim is strangled in an attempt to control, coerce or intimidate the victim. It also more accurately reflects the severity of the crime.
If you have been charged with a Domestic Violence offence, contact our Criminal Law Team on (02) 4647 7577 or alternatively, on our 24 hour hotline, (02) 8324 7527. If you have any questions or for further information contact:
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