What is the Law and Penalties for Domestic Violence in NSW?


It is reported that a 24-year-old woman, Toyah Cordingley was found dead on Wangetti Beach in North Queensland in October 2018.

She drove to the beach with her dog but never returned home.

Upon inspection of her body, police announced that there appeared to be violent related injuries on her.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ed Kinbacher said, “If we’re dealing with a potentially sexually related murder, which commonsensically we may be, we may well be dealing with a male… it may well be the case this young woman has run into a stranger or potentially a person known to her and circumstances have unfolded that have led to her death.”

Reportedly, police have found no leads or explanation as to her death.

She was an animal lover who had previously worked for an animal shelter before working in a pharmacy.

Unlike the instant attention given to issues of terrorism, needle contamination of fruits and the drought, the same attention simply isn’t given to the high numbers of murders of Australian women.

The Destroy the Joint’s ‘Counting Dead Women’ Project reports that in Australia, up to fifty-six women have been killed from violence in 2018. This is already a higher number than last year.

It’s reported that Carrie Bickmore from the Project refers to this as a national crisis, “sure these murders are reported in news bulletins, but they haven’t got the whole country panicking. 57 women have been murdered this year.”

Bickmore reports that 10 women were killed from violence just in the month of October this year. 6 of those were killed within a 5-day period.

Violence Against Women Statistics in Australia

It’s reported that one in four women in Australia have been victims of emotional abuse by the former or present partner since 15-years-of-age.

Further to this, one in five women have been a victim to sexual violence since 15-years-of-age, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Surprisingly, a woman is murdered every once a week by her current or previous partner according to the Australian Institute of Criminology.

Nearly 40% of women continue experiencing violence from their partner during the time of temporary separation.  In addition to this, one in six women experience stalking from the age of 15-years.

Violence against women has proven very costly for Australia- costing our economy about twenty-two million dollars a year. These costs include second generation impacts on children effecting reduced productivity, increase in welfare, medical costs and unemployment. It also includes costs relating to the justice system, funeral costs and victim’s compensation, loss of income tax of victims and/or survivors.

Regardless of these shocking statistics, we as a nation appear to give far more attention and concern to other issues, including terrorism and strawberry contamination.

The Law on Domestic Violence Assaults in NSW

Domestic violence is taken very seriously by NSW Courts.

In fact, the recently changed sentencing laws in NSW now reflects the harsh stance against domestic violence held by Courts.

A person guilty of a ‘domestic violence offence’ requires a Judge or Magistrate to impose either a full-time imprisonment sentence or a ‘supervised order’. This is reflected in section 4A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 NSW.

A ‘supervised order’ includes a supervision condition in the form of any one of the following types of penalties a court can impose for sentence:

  1. Intensive corrections order; or
  2. Community corrections order; or
  3. Conditional release order.

A ‘domestic violence offence’ under section 11 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW) includes an offence against a person you have or had a ‘domestic relationship’ with.

A ‘domestic relationship’, includes a relationship of marriage, de facto partner, intimate personal relationship, housemate, carer relationship, or relative. For example, a woman and he ex-partner will be considered a ‘domestic relationship’.

A woman’s ex-partner and her current partner will also be considered in a ‘domestic relationship’.

The offence against a person there is a ‘domestic relationship’ with can include a ‘personal violence offence’ which includes:

  • Common assault charges
  • Murder charges and attempted murder charges
  • Intentional or recklessly cause grievous bodily harm or wounding charges
  • Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
  • Stalking or intimidating with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm

What is Common Assault in NSW?

Common assault in NSW is where a person intentionally or recklessly causes either fear or injury to another person. It can include actions that cause fear without any physical contact so long as the actions cause an apprehension of immediate fear in the other person (alleged victim).

Being guilty of common assault in NSW will attract a maximum penalty of up to $5,500 fine and/or a term of up to 2-years imprisonment pursuant to section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

What are the Defences to Common Assault in NSW?

If charged with common assault in NSW, a Judge or Magistrate will find you not guilty if any of the following defences are available to your case:

  1. You acted in self defence to protect yourself or to protect another person (or property). This defence is reflected in section 418 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
  2. You committed the alleged common assault in circumstances of making a lawful arrest if you used ‘reasonable force’.
  3. If the alleged assault is against a child, you will be not guilty if you were exercising your right to lawful correction.
  4. Where the alleged victim was unaware of your alleged actions that are said to constitute the common assault.
  5. Where the alleged assault was an inevitable and unavoidable physical contact in daily life.
  6. Mental illness defence.
  7. Duress or necessity.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.


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