ALMOST 800 people have been charged with strangling a member of their family in the past 12 months in Queensland.
It’s the first year that non-fatal strangulation, choking or suffocating has been recognised as a criminal offence in the state and carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ jail.
The Palaszczuk Government made the changes to the Criminal Code in April last year. It was one of a suite of legal reforms made in response to the Not Now, Not Ever report on domestic violence.
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Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the new legislation was holding perpetrators to account and enabling more victims to come forward.
“Already, in just the first 12 months of it being an offence, we’re seeing that this law will be vital to holding perpetrators to account,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“I think it’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean more cases, rather that we’re able to identify the specific nature of the assault, and that people feel more able to come forward.
“We introduced this legislation because strangulation is known to be an important indicator of escalating domestic violence.
“Choking, strangling or suffocating a person is now an offence in its own right with a maximum penalty of seven years jail,” Mrs D’Ath said.
In the 12 months since the new legislation came into effect, a total 894 charges of strangulation have been laid against 798 defendants.
In addition, 409 applications were granted to have previous convictions declared a Domestic Violence offence to ensure sentencing judges have a full grasp of a person’s criminal history.
Domestic violence is now considered an aggravating factor in sentencing, meaning judges must take the context of the assaults into account when assessing each case.
“These important legislative changes are holding perpetrators to account in the short-term, as the community embarks on a broader long-term cultural shift in attitudes on domestic and family violence,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“It is early days, and many of these charges have been laid quite recently, but we hope this sends a clear message to perpetrators that domestic and family violence is not tolerated in our society.”