The new Family Violence Amendments Act will be legislated in July next year, but three parts of the act come into force today.
The first thing that changes today is that there are three new actions that are now regarded as crimes. Trying to stop someone from breathing by strangling or suffocation is now a crime carrying a 7-year prison sentence. Forced marriage is also now a crime, and if someone is found guilty of forcing someone to marry, the maximum prison sentence will be five years. There is now another listed crime, assault on a family member. This carries a maximum 2-year prison sentence. It has been listed as a crime separate from normal assault so that it will be easy to measure family violence in New Zealand.
The second thing that changes today is the bail laws for people arrested because of family violence. Courts will be more careful in thinking about the safety of the victim before letting someone out of prison on bail.
The third thing that changes is that victims can testify in court by making a video recording before the court hearing instead of having to speak in court. Many victims of domestic violence find it very difficult to speak in court.
The rest of the act will be implemented next year. It will include making it easier for police to protect victims of family violence, and for police to talk to other agencies that can help.
Act: a law
Come into force: if a law comes into force, it is now a real law enforced by the police.
Bail: when someone has been arrested by the police, they may have to wait a long time before the court hearing. If they are not dangerous, they can be released from prison on bail. They usually have to pay some money to make sure that they don’t run away.
testify: if you give information in court, you are testifying.
Hearing: a hearing is a court case
- What is the name of the act that is coming into force?
- Can you name three new crimes listed by the act?
- When do these crimes become illegal?
- Why do you think the government listed these new crimes?