New family violence law takes effect

New family violence legislation takes effect from 3 December, bringing a stronger focus on safety for victims and accountability for perpetrators.

The legislation is the result of consultation with communities, organisations and individuals by the previous government and the current government.  It is aligned with the work programme of the Joint Venture Business Unit announced in September.

Three new offences have been created which criminalise behaviours and practices that are common but have not been able to be prosecuted as family violence.

Strangulation or suffocation becomes an offence with a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.  Attempts to stop a person from breathing by strangulation or suffocation is a significant risk factor for future violence and lethality.

Strangulation, often called choking by victims, has serious physical consequences for the victim which can show up days after the incident.  It is always serious, even if there are no immediate and obvious visible marks or bruises.

A new offence of assault on a person in a family relationship reflects the diverse nature of family violence offending.  The new offence applies to a range of family relationships including, for example, in-laws, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, children, aunties and uncles, cousins, step relatives and wider whānau.

Coerced marriage or civil union becomes a crime whether it happens in New Zealand or overseas. This offence recognises that forcing someone into a marriage is a form of abuse.

You can watch videos about the new offences on our YouTube channel(external link).

In other changes taking effect on 3 December, victims of family violence will be able to give their evidence-in-chief by video recording made before their court appearance.  This will help reduce trauma and improve the court experience for victims.

Decisions about granting bail and conditions of bail must now make victim safety the primary consideration in cases involving family violence offending.

The second phase of implementation of the new legislation will take effect on 1 July 2019 and is focused on strengthening the family law response to family violence. 

For more information go to our website.


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