Often referred to as family violence, domestic violence is taken very seriously by the Courts.
If you’ve been accused of family violence, it’s important to understand what it means, from the defences you have available to you, to the potential penalties you may be facing and the consequences that being found guilty could have on your life.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is not itself a criminal offence, though it often involves assault or other criminal offences. It is classified as a harmful behaviour committed by one person against another with whom they have previously or currently have a particular type of relationship, including:
- Relatives outside of a person’s immediate family; and
- Romantic/sexual, even where brief.
These cases are taken very seriously in Victoria. They are given priority by the courts and generally move through the system more quickly than other criminal cases. Due to this, hiring criminal lawyers in Melbourne experienced in these types of cases is crucial.
What is family violence?
Though often used interchangeably with domestic violence, family violence is defined in the Family Violence Protection Act. In short it is harmful behaviour directed towards a partner or family member used to injure, threaten or coerce that person. It can include any behaviour that makes that person fear for their physical safety and/or the wellbeing of their property or the physical safety and/or the wellbeing of another person.
Family violence also includes a wide range of criminal offences such as physical assault, molestation, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse, coercion, controlling or dominating behaviour causing a person to fear for their wellbeing or the wellbeing of another person, damaging property and conduct that causes a child to hear, witness or be in any way exposed to the effects of the various types of family violence.
When a person is charged with a criminal offence categorised as domestic or family violence, it is quite common for the police to apply for an intervention order on behalf of the alleged victim. This is generally done in an attempt to protect the alleged victim from further domestic violence.
Designed to be quite restrictive in nature, an intervention order can and often does prohibit a person accused of domestic violence from having contact with the alleged victim. This can involve being restricted from coming within a certain distance of their alleged victim, coming within a certain distance of the home of their alleged victim or contacting them by phone, email or sms.
If you are accused of domestic violence and share a home or have a child with the alleged victim, you may be prohibited from returning to your home or from having contact with your children.
It is important to hire an experienced domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible if you are accused of or charged with a family violence offence. They will assist you with both the criminal charges and the intervention order proceedings that are likely to arise out of the allegations that have led to those charges having been laid.
Stary Norton Halphen criminal lawyers have experience with intervention orders and can provide you with the best possible advice regarding family violence cases.
What are the penalties?
Harsh penalties are regularly imposed for cases involving family violence, and a person accused of domestic violence will often face the very real possibility of an immediate jail sentence, even if they are a first-time offender.
Nevertheless, the penalty you receive will depend on a number of factors including the charge you are facing, the circumstances surrounding the offending, your personal circumstances and what you have done after you have been charged in terms of rehabilitating yourself. For example, enrolling and participating in a men’s behaviour change program will often assist a person in receiving a lesser penalty.
Your criminal lawyer will advise you of the potential penalties you’ll be facing and will help you get the lowest possible sentence.
Hiring domestic violence lawyers
When charged with an offence that falls under the umbrella of domestic violence, it is crucial to have a good criminal lawyer to explain the process to you. They will determine whether you have a solid defence, the strength of the case against you, and the potential penalties you are facing.
At Stary Norton Halphen, we have a team of experienced criminal lawyers in Melbourne, who understand the importance of building a strong defence and will assist you with your case. Every case matters to us, and we will help you achieve the best possible outcome having regard to the circumstances of your case.
If you are accused of domestic violence and require the services of a domestic violence lawyer, or assault lawyers in Melbourne, contact the team at Stary Norton Halphen.