Law on Choking, Strangulating and Suffocating in NSW

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.


A man from New South Wales’ Hunter region has been charged after allegedly choking a five-year-old boy in an incident of domestic violence.

According to reports from NSW Police, around 2pm on 16 May 2020, the man, aged 27, began quarrelling with a 44-year-old woman at a residence in Rutherford, near Maitland.

He soon became assertive, then suddenly turned on a five-year-old boy who was standing close by, gripping him by the throat using both of his hands.

The man then lifted the child off the ground, still with his grasp around the young boy’s neck.

He then let the boy go, releasing him onto a lounge.

The man then absconded from the home.


From the Hunter Valley to Haymarket: Police Investigation Leads to Discovery of Man at Sydney CBD Hotel

Following the man’s departure from the Rutherford residence, the incident was reported to officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District, who launched an investigation.

After some inquiries, a manhunt began, with officers from Sydney City Police Area Command locating the man at a hotel in Sydney’s CBD just hours later.

Around 9:45pm, the man was arrested in Haymarket and taken to Surry Hills Police Station.

He was charged with intentionally choking a person without consent (DV).

The man was refused bail.


Choking as One of the Most Fatal Forms of Domestic Violence 

Choking – which is also known as strangulation – is identified as one of the most common and fatal forms of domestic violence, with the ability to cause unconsciousness within seconds and death within minutes.

In fact, according to the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, it has also been described as the ultimate form of power and control, where the batterer can demonstrate control over the victim’s next breath.

Moreover, when a domestic violence perpetrator chokes their victim, it may have destructive psychological effects or a potentially fatal outcome, including suicide.

In conjunction with choking and strangulation, batterers tend to use intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, children, economic abuse, coercion and threats.

They may also minimise, deny and blame the victim.

It is reported that many domestic violence perpetrators use strangulation and suffocation to silence their victims, gain control, torture and even kill them.

In particular, for the perpetrator, the unique nature of non-fatal strangulation has been recognised as an effective method of coercive control.

In non-fatal strangulation, it is possible to bring a victim to the point of believing death is imminent, but then stop, either before or immediately after they lose consciousness.

By doing this, the person strangling conveys a very authoritative and credible threat of impending death, which is an essential element in establishing and maintaining coercive control.

Survivors of strangulation learn to comply with their abuser’s subsequent demands as a strategy of survival, while abusers realise that they can get away with such behaviour, which soon becomes their weapon of choice.

Worryingly, the current climate of restrictions due to coronavirus makes for the perfect storm for batterers to exercise power, control and even coercive control.

Have questions for us? Call our Sydney based criminal lawyers for a consultation today.

Law on Choking, Strangulating and Suffocating in NSW

In NSW, it is a crime to choke, suffocate or strangle another person without their consent.

The law imposes a maximum 5-years jail sentence for intentionally choking, suffocating or strangling another person without that person’s consent, under section 37(1A) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

The maximum penalties increase to 10-years if this occurs in circumstances you intentionally choke, suffocate or strangle another person so as to render that person unconscious, insensible or incapable of resistance, and where you do so realising the possibility of rendering that person as such.

There’s a maximum 25-years jail sentence where a person chokes, suffocates or strangles another person so as to render that person unconscious, insensible or incapable of resistance with the intention to enable either him/herself to commit an indictable offence, or to assist someone else to do so.

Defences to choking, suffocation and strangulation offences can include self-defence, duress and necessity.

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