Te Kāhui Pou Whakatau Ture o Aotearoa



Family Violence Acts


The Family and Whānau Violence Bill was separated in to two parts - the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018 and the Family Violence Act 2018.

The new legislation took effect in two phases. 

Phase one came into force on the 3rd of December 2018 and amended the Crimes Act 1961, the Evidence Act 2006 and the Bail Act 2000. These changes are outlined below and can be found in the Family Violence (Amendments) Act.

Phase two came into force on the 1st of July 2019 and repealed the Domestic Violence Act and amended the Criminal Procedure Act. 


Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018

Crimes Act 1961

The Bill introduces three new family violence offences to criminalise behaviours and practices that are common but have not been able to be prosecuted as family violence.

Strangulation or suffocation, new section 189A.

The new offence of strangulation or suffocation recognises that strangulation is a significant risk factor for future violence and lethality.  The offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.

Information about strangulation

  • The new offence of strangulation recognises that attempts to stop a person from breathing by strangulation or suffocation is a significant risk factor for future violence and lethality.
  • Strangulation is intimidating and coercive. It is used as a tactic to control a partner, instilling fear by showing the victim that the perpetrator has the ability to kill.
  • New Zealand has one of the highest rates of intimate partner violence in the OECD.
  • Strangulation, often called choking by victims, is common in intimate partner violence.
  • Strangulation has serious physical consequences for the victim which can show up days after the incident.  Strangulation is always serious even if there are no immediate and obvious visible marks or bruises.

Assault on a person in a family relationship, new section 194A. 

This offence reflects the diverse nature of family violence offending and sits alongside the offences of male assaults female and assault on a child.  It carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

  • The new offence applies to a range of family relationships including in-laws, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, children, aunties and uncles, cousins, step relatives and wider whānau.  The definition of family relationship is unchanged.


Coerced marriage or civil union, new section 207A. 

This offence criminalises the act of coercing another person to enter a marriage or civil union regardless of whether the marriage occurs in New Zealand or overseas.  This offence recognises coercion to marry as a form of abuse.  The maximum penalty is five years’ imprisonment.


Evidence Act 2006

Changes to the Evidence Act make it easier for victims of family violence to give evidence via a video recording made before the hearing.  The video recording must be made by a Police employee no later than two weeks after the alleged family violence incident.

Under the current law, the prosecutor has to apply to use video evidence for the victim’s statement.

Under the new law, the prosecutor can use video evidence unless the defendant successfully argues against it. 

The use of video evidence is intended to reduce trauma and improve the court experience for victims of family violence. Police are exploring the ability to take victim statements at the scene of an alleged crime when victim memory is most accurate.

Amendments to the Evidence Regulations 2007 allowing for the digital recording and storage of video evidence have also been made.


Bail Act 2000

The Family amends the Bail Act 2000 to prioritise the safety of the victim and family when considering whether to grant bail and on what conditions for a defendant charged with a family violence offence.

The changes are:

  • Section 7 states that a defendant is not bailable as of right if they are charged with assault on a person with whom the defendant is or has been in a family relationship.


  • Section 8 states that victim and family safety are the primary consideration when deciding whether or not to grant bail for a defendant charged with a family violence offence


  • Section 21 states that victim and family safety are the Police’s primary consideration when deciding Police bail for a defendant charged with a family violence offence
  • Section 22 is replaced and allows a Police employee who grants Police bail to a defendant charged with a family violence offence, to impose any conditions they consider reasonably necessary in order to protect the victim and family

New section 30AAA allows a Registrar or judicial officer who grants bail to a defendant charged with a family violence offence to impose any conditions they consider reasonably necessary in order to protect the victim and family

Family Violence Act 2018

Criminal Procedure Act 2011

Section 16A Criminal Procedure Act 2011

A family violence notification may now be placed on charging documents when an offence is family violence related.

The court may, at any time after a charging document is filed and before the delivery of the verdict or decision of the court, amend the document to add/confirm/remove a specification that the offence charged is a family violence offence.

With offences such as wilful damage or trespass, it may not always be clear whether charges are family violence related. Convictions may now be specified as family violence offences in the offender’s permanent record and this will inform future criminal history reports.


Section 168A Criminal Procedure Act 2011 - No Contact Conditions when RIC

Section 168A has been added to the Criminal Procedure Act enabling a judicial officer to give a direction imposing on the defendant 1 or more conditions requiring the defendant, while remanded in custody under s168(1)(c), to have no contact (except as the judicial officer specifies) with the victim of the offence, any other person specified by the judicial officer, or both.

This section applies to a defendant who is charged with a family violence offence (even if the charging document does not specify that this is a family violence offence) and who is/is to be remanded in custody under s168(1)(c).

The judicial officer may exercise this power on their own motion or on the application of the defendant or the prosecutor. A registrar may also exercise this power if the prosecutor agrees.

Under s170 a defendant may be brought before a judicial officer at any time, when remanded in custody, for the consideration or giving of a direction under s168A.


Family Violence Act 2018 - Part Three

Police Safety Orders 

With the repeal of the Domestic Violence Act, procedures for the Police Safety Orders are now set out in Part 3 of the Family Violence Act 2018.


Most of the procedures and powers are unchanged. Note that a Police Safety order can now be made for 10 days, this applies to Police in the first instance and the District Court (including JJPs) in the event of an arrest for a breach of a PSO.

For your information, the new Police Safety Order provisions are set out below.


Police power to issue a Police Safety Order - Sections 28 to 35  


Effect of a PSO – sections 36 to 42


When a bound person contravenes a PSO - Sections 43 to 54


Judicial Justice of the Peace Jurisdiction – Section 46

  • Your jurisdiction is outlined in section 46
  • If you are satisfied that a person has refused or failed to comply with  PSO, you may:
    • If the order has not expired, direct that another order, which is to continue in force for a period not exceeding 10 days specified by the court be issued against the person and served by a constable or officer of the court as soon as practicable.
    • If the order has expired, direct that another order, which is continued in force for a period not exceeding 10 days specified by the court, be issued and served.
    • If considered appropriate in the circumstances to do so you may adjourn the proceedings to a specified time and place to enable to a District Court Judge to consider whether a temporary protection order should be issued and direct another order as the case may require.
  • Matters under section 46 fall within the criminal jurisdiction
  • Note that section 49 specifies that every question of fact arising in any proceeding under s46 or 51 must be decided on the balance of probabilities.


Protection Orders – sections 112 to 113

Note that section 113 sets out the power to arrest for a breach of a protection order (or related property order).

More information is available via the Ministry of Justice website.


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