This study shows the pattern of sentencing for a range of domestic violence offences in the NSW Local and District Criminal Courts, and identifies the characteristics which influence whether offenders guilty of domestic violence- related assault receive a sentence of imprisonment.
Method: Data were sourced from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research’s recorded criminal incident database and Reoffending Database. Domestic violence-related offences finalised in NSW Local and District Courts between January 2008 and June 2009 were identified by reference to the original police report and the use of domestic violence-specific law part codes. A multivariable model was developed to identify the factors influential in the sentencing of domestic assault offenders.
Results: Offenders found guilty of a domestic violence-related assault are more likely to receive a prison sentence if: the assault caused significant harm, the offender has a concurrent offence at the court appearance, a prior prison episode, a prior conviction for a violent offence, has breached an AVO in the previous two years, is male or Indigenous.
Conclusion: Domestic violence appears before the courts in many forms, from the most serious assaults to property damage and offensive language. The penalties received for these offences are equally diverse. The factors which influence whether a domestic violence-related assault offender will be sentenced to prison generally reflect the severity of the offence and the criminal history of the offender.