Proposed amendments to Western Australia’s assault causing death law

The Criminal Code Amendment (Domestic Violence) Bill 2012 (WA) has been introduced as a private member’s Bill into the parliament of Western Australia. The Bill proposes to amend Western Australia’s unlawful assault causing death law to provide for a maximum imprisonment of 20 years for an unlawful assault causing death offence in circumstances of aggravation. "Circumstances of aggravation" includes cases where the offender is in a family and domestic relationship with the victim of the offence.

The "unlawful assault causing death" charge was designed to respond to "one-punch" homicide cases. The existing penalties for the assault causing death offence do not reflect or respond to the level of culpability in cases where there has been a history of violence between the perpetrator and the victim. The Human Rights Law Centre has previously argued that the application of the unlawful assault causing death law in domestic violence cases constitutes a violation of women’s human rights.