Chapter 4
​Current problems prosecuting strangulation

Is reform justified?

4.55Our analysis of how strangulation in family violence circumstances is currently handled by the criminal justice system has led us to conclude that strangulation is often not treated as the significant form of offending that it is. Less serious offending is often not prosecuted, and more serious offending is often not charged in a way that reflects the criminality of the behaviour.

4.56The main problem is that the current framework of serious violent offences is not well suited to those instances of strangulation that do not result in visible injuries. This means that type of strangulation tends to be charged as “male assaults female”. The maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment for that offence does not adequately reflect the seriousness of strangulation. There is, therefore, a gap in the current framework of offences. We consider that this gap justifies an amendment to the law to create an offence more suited to prosecuting strangulation. There should also be other, non-legislative action taken to ensure that strangulation is better understood so that perpetrators are held accountable and victims are kept safe.

4.57In the following chapters, we describe a range of options to address these problems. We start by describing how a specific strangulation offence might work. We then describe other amendments to the Crimes Act that may address the identified problems, plus other legislative and administrative reforms. We finish in Chapter 8 by concluding which of these options we favour.