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    An Australian State is considering whether those accused of domestic violence should be subjected to electronic monitoring.

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      Australian State to Consider Electronic Monitoring of Domestic Violence Defendants

      An Australian State is considering whether those accused of domestic violence should be subjected to electronic monitoring.

      The Victorian Law Reform Commission is considering new measures for responding to stalking, including whether electronic monitoring will now be a mandatory condition of intervention orders.

      An intervention order in Victoria is similar to an apprehended violence order (AVO) in New South Wales.

      Domestic Violence and Stalking

      Pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975, a domestic violence offence is defined as a person threatening, acting violent, or engaging in any similar act against a member of the alleged victim’s family and causes that family member to be fearful.

      The Crimes (Personal and Domestic Violence) Act 2007 defines a domestic violence offence as any offence committed by a person against a family member that the alleged victim shares or has shared a domestic relationship with.

      A domestic relationship includes:

      • Family members (including children) even if they don’t live with the offender;
      • Current and former partners;
      • A former partner’s new partner
      • In relation to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders – Any person who is part of the extended family or a kin according to the indigenous kinship system of the person’s culture.

      Stalking involves a pattern of behaviour intended to cause harm or arouse fear. Section 13 of the Crimes (Personal and Domestic Violence) Act 2007 makes it clear that the prosecution need to prove that the accused had an intention to cause the other person to fear physical or mental harm.

      However, a person can be found to have intended to cause fear of physical or mental harm if he or she knows that the conduct is likely to cause fear in the other person.

      Intervention orders and AVOs

      An intervention order prohibits another person (the defendant) from behaving in a particular manner and also require the defendant to comply with certain conditions.

      A person or the police can apply for an intervention order. In Victoria, there are two types of intervention orders.

      A family violence intervention order is used where the parties are family members, including current or former intimate partners and some carers.

      There are also personal safety intervention orders which covers all other relationships.

      An intervention order is similar to apprehended violence orders which are used in New South Wales.

      Electronic Monitoring for Domestic Violence Defendants

      Electronic monitoring refers to “forms of surveillance with which to monitor the location, movement and specific behaviour of persons”. It can be effected by the use of devices such as ankle bracelets. These bracelets use radio frequency or Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to continuously monitor the location of a person.

      Ankle bracelets are used when monitoring offenders who are on parole, or as a condition of their bail. In South Australia and Queensland, forensic mental health services are able to use electronic monitoring for certain patients.  

      Proponents of electronic monitoring argue that it may help to ensure intervention orders and AVOs are being complied with. It would prevent domestic violence defendants from physically approaching alleged victims. It would also track the movements of those subject to an order.

      Domestic Violence Lawyers Voice Concerns

      Domestic violence lawyers in Sydney have argued that the benefits of electronic monitoring are far outweighed by the drawbacks.

      The curtailing of the liberty of those who have not been convicted of a crime is a significant step. No person should be subject to punishment if they have not been found guilty. Wearing an electronic device may also be sitgmatising. There is a delicate balancing exercise between public safety considerations and individual rights.

      The panel that reviewed post-sentence supervision of sex offenders in Victoria noted the high financial cost associated with it, stating “[…] the costs associated with electronic monitoring were considerable, particularly in proportion to other important functions undertaken by Corrections Victoria.”

      Further, due to resource allocation, it is not feasible for every alleged domestic violence perpetrator to be monitored. Further, analysis of the electronic monitoring data is not always immediate.

      AVO lawyers in Sydney have also pointed out that if electronic monitoring were imposed, it would likely lead to more contested cases taking up more court time.

      Domestic Violence Lawyers

      Previously, NSW Police investigated domestic violence matters much the same as any other reported crime. Statements from alleged victims were either hand written or typed.

      NSW Police now use ‘Domestic Violence Evidence Kits’ (DVEC). These kits include video cameras, digital cameras and voice recorders. Amendments to legislation means that Police now use these devices to video record statements from alleged victims.

      The alleged victim will still need to attend court however that recording can be played as their ‘evidence’ at court.  This often provides very compelling evidence.

      That is why you will need leading domestic violence lawyers who have a proven track record of have these charges and AVOs dismissed. Call Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823 or email us at info@astorlegal.com.au. You can read some recent AVO cases here.

      If you are convicted of any domestic violence offence it is recorded on your criminal record as “dv offence”. A court will also usually make a final apprehended violence order (AVO) against you. An AVO is a court order that restricts or limits your conduct and behaviour in certain ways. There are a wide range of conditions that can be imposed. These orders can be for up to two years duration.

      The conditions on an AVO can restrict you from doing certain things like:

      • Approaching or contacting a particular person
      • Approaching someone with a certain period after drinking alcohol
      • Preventing you from attending certain places

      However, you can vary an avo by making an application to court.

      An AVO can also prevent you from holding certain licenses such as security or firearms licenses. If you attend court and are asked to consent to an AVO being made you should seek legal advice about the implications of consenting to an AVO.

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