New DV strangulation laws to jail offenders
PUNISHMENTS for domestic violence will be ramped up in NSW with tough new strangulation laws to make it easier to prove a woman has been strangled and for her attacker to be jail for up to five years.
The suite of new reforms also includes increasing police powers over protection orders and courts will be able to slap lifetime orders on the state's worst domestic violence abusers.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman said strangulation was a serious indicator that a woman is at risk of being murdered by her partner.
"The problem in NSW has been that while we have two strangulation offences in the Crimes Act they've been very difficult to prove," he said.
There have been over 600 strangulation prosecutions since 2014 but less than half have resulted in a conviction.
Prevention of Domestic Violence Minister Pru Goward said a quarter of woman who are murdered in domestic violence experienced strangulation some time before their death.
"That tells you that we can address a quarter of these threatened homicides much earlier in the process," Ms Goward said.
The current law requires proof that the victim has been "rendered unconscious, insensible or unable to resist" or that the strangulation occurred during an indictable offence.
"Domestic violence strangulation is often about coercion rather than physical assault or physical attack so it's often been very difficult to prove. So this new offence... will only require proof of intentional choking or strangulating or suffocating without consent. It won't require proof that the victim has been rendered insensible, unconscious or unable to resist," Mr Speakman said.
"We are hopeful this will result in an increased number of prosecutions but more importantly point out a red flag for future domestic violence offences."
The new strangulation offence will carry a maximum penalty of five years jail.
Currently many strangulation incidents are prosecuted under the lesser charge of common assault which only results in up to two years jail.
NEW SOUTH WALES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
"Often the strangulation has occurred but there's no visible marks on the neck or there's no evidence of actual bodily harm so it ends up being prosecuted as common assault with a maximum penalty of two years," Mr Speakman said.
The reforms also give courts the powers to put an offender on an "indefinite" ADVO if other punishments have failed.
Another change is that ADVOS must remain in place for two years after a domestic violence offender is released from prison unless the court determines otherwise.
The default length of ADVOS will also jump to two years from 12 months.
Police officers will also be empowered to immediately vary ADVOs to respond to "serious and immediate" risk to victims, rather than having to wait for a date in court to make the changes.
The raft of reforms are to be introduced to state parliament in coming weeks with the strangulation law expected to be in place by the end of the year while the changes to police powers will be by mid-2019.