13. Recognising Family Violence in Offences and Sentencing

Recommendation 13–1 The national family violence bench book (see Rec 31–2) should include a section that:

  1. provides guidance about the potential relevance of family-violence related evidence to criminal offences and defences—for example, evidence of a pre-existing relationship between the parties, including evidence of previous violence; and
  2. addresses sentencing in family violence matters.

Recommendation 13–2 Federal,state and territory police, and Commonwealth, state and territory directors of public prosecution respectively, should ensure that police and prosecutors are encouraged by prosecutorial guidelines, and training and education programs, to use representative charges wherever appropriate in family-violence related criminal matters, where the charged conduct forms part of a course of conduct. Relevant prosecutorial guidelines, training and education programs should also address matters of charge negotiation and negotiation as to agreed statements of facts in the prosecution of family-violence related matters.

Recommendation 13–3 State and territory sentencing legislation should provide that the fact that an offence was committed in the context of a family relationship should not be considered a mitigating factor in sentencing.