Summary of questions for submitters

chapter 1: Setting the Scene

Q1 Should the Commission’s review and any recommendations for reform be limited to victims of family violence who commit homicide?

Chapter 2: Understanding Family Violence

Q2 We welcome feedback on our discussion of family violence and the circumstances of primary victims who kill their abusers.

chapter 5: Problems with the current law – is there a need for reform?

Q3 Should it be possible for a defendant who is a victim of family violence to be acquitted on the basis that he or she acted in self-defence where:

(a) the harm sought to be avoided was not imminent or immediate; and/or

(b) the fatal force was not proportionate to the force involved in the harm or threatened harm?

Q4 If the answer to question 3 is yes, do you consider that legislative reform is necessary to achieve that objective?

Q5 Do you consider there is a case for reform to recognise reduced culpability of victims of family violence who commit homicide (where self-defence does not apply)?

Q6 Do you consider there is a need to improve understanding of the dynamics of family violence by those operating in the criminal legal system?

Q7 Do you consider there are currently problems with introducing family violence evidence, including expert evidence, in criminal trials?

Chapter 7: Options for reform of self-defence

Q8 Which of the three options for reform of self-defence would you prefer, and why?
  • Option 1: Introduce a new provision that clarifies that, under section 48, the force used by the defendant may be reasonable even though the defendant is responding to a harm that is not immediate or uses force in excess of that involved in the harm or threatened harm. 
  • Option 2: Amend section 48 to replace by statute the Wang concept of “imminence” with inevitability.
  • Option 3: Introduce a new complete defence to extend the concept of self-defence to victims of family violence who act out of necessity.
Q9 Should Option 1 be limited to situations where family violence is in issue or apply generally?​

Q10 Should reforms be introduced to provide specific guidance on the admissibility of family violence evidence where self-defence is raised in the context of family violence?

Q11 Should such guidance be contained in the Crimes Act 1961 or the Evidence Act 2006?

Q12 Should reforms be introduced to provide for jury direction where self-defence is raised in the context of family violence?

Q13 Should any jury direction be focused on addressing common misunderstandings of family violence (the Victorian model) or on directing a jury on how the concepts of imminence and proportionality apply in each individual case?

Chapter 8: Partial defences and separate homicide offences

Q14 Should a new partial defence (or separate homicide offence) – whether of general application or specific to victims of family violence – be introduced in New Zealand?

Q15 Would you support the introduction of a new partial defence or separate homicide offence if it applied only in circumstances where victims of family violence commit homicide?

Q16 If a new partial defence is introduced, would you favour a partial defence based on one of the traditional defences of excessive self-defence, loss of control or diminished responsibility, or a specific defence of self-preservation in the context of an abusive relationship?

Q17 As an alternative, would you prefer the introduction of a separate homicide offence in circumstances where the defendant was acting defensively but with excessive force? 

Chapter 9: Other options for reform

Q18 Do you think there should be any changes to sentencing law (for example, the introduction of further mitigating factors, or guidance on displacement of the threshold in section 102 of the Sentencing Act 2002) to better provide for victims of family violence who commit homicide?

Q19 Do you consider the Prosecution Guidelines should include specific guidance on charging and/or plea discussions where family violence against a defendant accused of committing homicide is in issue?

Q20 Would you support further education or training on the dynamics of family violence for those operating within the criminal justice system, including lawyers, judges, police and jurors?