Legal service calls for tougher domestic violence penalties

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Increasing court resources and maximum sentences for family violence offenders have been alternatives suggested by the Sentencing Advisory Council following calls for harsher sentencing.

The suggestions follow the Tasmanian Government’s ruling out of the introduction of mandatory sentencing for such crimes.

The Women’s Legal Service welcomed the move, but expressed frustration over the lack of reflection of some penalties to the seriousness of the crime, the ABC reported.

“They don't always necessarily have the time to get the victim impact statements and other bits of evidence that the magistrate needs to actually consider what the sentence should be,” said principal solicitor Susan Fahey.

Calling for tougher laws for repeat offenders, the Tasmanian Law Society said the Government has many options, even calling for the consideration of creating a separate offence relating to family violence rather than it being charged as a common assault.

“If the goal is to impress upon the court the seriousness of family violence offending, then one way of doing it and making sure the court takes that seriousness into account is to increase the maximum,” president Matthew Verney said.

“I think there is some appropriateness to the idea that somehow that needs to be distinguished from someone getting into a bit of biffo outside a pub on a Saturday night, because the context and ramifications are potentially very different when you think about who might be the victim of an act of family violence.”