Domestic violence offences

[5-500] Introduction

Last reviewed: July 2024

A “domestic violence offence” is defined in s 11 Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (the Act) as an offence committed against a person with whom the offender has (or has had) a domestic relationship (see s 5 the Act), being:


a personal violence offence (see s 4 the Act), or


an offence (other than a personal violence offence) that arises from substantially the same circumstances as those from which a personal violence offence has arisen, or


an offence under the Crimes Act 1900, s 54D(1) (see below at [5-600] Abusive behaviour towards intimate partners, or


an offence, other than a personal violence offence, in which the conduct that constitutes the offence is domestic abuse.

Section 6A of the Act provides the definition of “domestic abuse”, and what may constitute domestic abuse. Section 6A was introduced, and s 11(1)(c) replaced, by the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Act 2022, and apply to behaviour (or alleged behaviour) that occurred, or an offence (or an alleged offence) that was committed, on or after 1 February 2024: Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Act, s 2; Sch 2[6].

For commentary regarding evidence from a domestic violence complainant, see [8-000] Evidence by domestic violence complainants.

For commentary regarding sentencing for domestic violence offences, see:

  • [16-140] Sentencing provisions concerning domestic violence offences

  • Sentencing Bench Book at [63-500] Domestic violence offences

  • M Zaki et al, “Sentencing for domestic violence in the Local Court”, Sentencing Trends and Issues No 48, Judicial Commission of NSW, 2022, and

  • M Zaki et al, “Sentencing for domestic violence in the Local Court” (2023) 35(3) JOB 23 (which contains a snapshot of the significant findings from Sentencing Trends and Issues No 48).

For commentary regarding apprehended violence orders, see [22-000].

See also Local Court Practice Note: Specialist Family Violence List Pilot.

[5-600] Abusive behaviour towards intimate partners

Last reviewed: July 2024

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Act 2022 relevantly amends the Crimes Act 1900 to create an offence of abusive behaviour towards intimate partners.

The offence involves engaging in a course of conduct consisting of abusive behaviour (violence, threats, intimidation, or coercion or control of a person) against a current or former intimate partner, with the intention of coercing or controlling that person: s 54D(1). Sections 54F and 54G provide definitions for “abusive behaviour” and “course of conduct” respectively. Section 54E provides for a defence to the offence.

The offence commenced on 1 July 2024 and will only apply to conduct occurring on or after that date: Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Act 2022, s 2; Sch 1[2].

The maximum penalty for the offence is 7 years imprisonment: s 54D(1). It is a Table 1 offence and may be dealt with summarily.

A suggested direction and accompanying notes regarding the offence are provided in the Criminal Trial Courts Bench Book at [5-2010], [5-2020] respectively.

For a discussion of the reforms and the offence, see R Hulme and E Sercombe, “Introducing the NSW coercive control reforms” (2023) 35(10) JOB 101.

See also the Judicial Information Research System’s Coercive control resource (for JIRS subscribers and judicial officers only).