8.1 The Terms of Reference direct the Commissions to consider the interaction in practice of family violence laws with the criminal laws of the Commonwealth, states and territories. This and the following six chapters are dedicated to this issue.

8.2 Family violence laws interact with the criminal law in a number of ways. They most often interact with state or territory criminal law, but may also interact with federal criminal law. A person who uses family violence may be subject to a protection order or to criminal prosecution—or to both. In practice, decision makers, such as police, may choose to pursue one avenue over another. This chapter considers how and why those decisions are made—and whether the decisions are always made appropriately and in the best interests of victims. It also briefly considers whether any persons, such as neighbours and health professionals, should be required to report family violence to police.

8.3 Chapter 9 considers the role of police in investigating family violence, issuing protection orders and applying for protection orders. It also considers the use of police powers of entry, search, seizure, arrest, direction and detention to investigate family violence and to protect victims.

8.4 Chapter 10 considers how family violence protection orders can interact with bail decisions made by police and the courts. Issues considered include: whether there should be a presumption regarding bail for crimes committed in a family violence context; whether bail conditions conflict with family violence protection order conditions; and whether victims of family violence are appropriately and promptly informed about bail decisions.

8.5 Chapter 11 discusses a number of issues arising from the interaction between family violence protection orders and the criminal law, including: the use of evidence of protection orders in criminal proceedings; the making of protection orders during criminal proceedings; and the interaction between protection order conditions and the criminal law.

8.6 Chapter 12 considers issues that arise when protection orders are breached. Breaching a protection order is a criminal offence and can therefore result in the parties to protection order proceedings entering into the criminal justice system. The chapter considers issues concerning the aiding and abetting of breaches; how police and prosecutors decide whether to charge a person for breaching a protection order or for the underlying offence; the maximum penalties for breach; and sentences imposed for breaching protection orders.

8.7 Chapters 13 and 14 consider whether there should be an expanded role for the criminal law in recognising family violence. Chapter 13 considers how family violence is recognised in criminal offences and sentencing. Chapter 14 considers family violence in the context of defences to homicide and how—if at all—a family relationship should be defined where it is prescribed as an element of an offence, defence or as a sentencing factor.