Domestic or family violence

Domestic violence is dealt with in a slightly different way to other violence charges.

Many courts in New Zealand have specialist family violence courts set up. The focus is more on rehabilitation than punishment.

Technically a charge involving any family member can send you to this court – however some courts are trying to narrow the definition to immediate family due to overloading.

Charges are most often Male Assault Female, wilful damage, threatening behavior, and breach of protection order.

A major issue is that in many courts you cannot be offered diversion for a family violence incident which increases the chance of a conviction being on your record.

There are strict policies around family violence. For instance for police to withdraw a charge in a family violence case requires extra scrutiny and is very reluctantly done.

Proper legal representation can ease the process and assist with keeping your record clean.

Family violence process

If you are arrested it is extremely rare to be granted bail from the police station no matter what the charge. As such if you are arrested on Saturday morning you may be waiting in custody until Monday to be released from a court.

At your first appearance you may be granted bail. In practically all cases you will not be able to bailed to your home if the complainant lives there. You may even be barred from visiting the property.

At your next appearance there is a lot of pressure to plead guilty. The court wants matters resolved and put you through a course e.g. anger management or alcohol before you are sentenced.

You may apply for a bail variation to go home prior to this – however the courts often like a ‘cooling down’ period before a return home. A good lawyer can fight for you on this point.

The complainant is not allowed to speak to your lawyer, and seldom the Judge directly. Their advocate is the victim advisor who is resident at the court. A supportive victim impact statement can assist with bail variation and sentence.

Due to the time to complete courses and the general speed of courts these cases can easily drag on for 3-6 months or more.

I’ve successfully defended the full range or family violence cases. Many of my clients have never appeared in court before and are successful professionals.

They value discrete service, speeding up of the process, and results.

Feel free to contact me for a confidential discussion on your case.

Keeping a clean record