Chapter 11
Sentencing for homicide


11.1In this chapter we briefly set out the law of sentencing as it relates to victims of family violence who kill their abusers and analyse how this has been applied in practice and whether there is any case for reform. We consider the general structure of the Sentencing Act 2002 and the purposes of sentencing. We then canvass in greater detail the mitigating factors specified in the Sentencing Act and how these are taken into account in family violence cases, before turning to issues specific to homicide sentencing, including the three strikes provisions. Discussing sentencing, we refer to “offenders”, although we have used the term “defendants” elsewhere in this Report. That is because, by the time a person is sentenced, the charge against them has been proved and they have been convicted.

11.2The question for this chapter is how to ensure the reduced culpability of victims of family violence who kill their abusers can be adequately addressed in sentencing.