Family Violence Involving Persons With Mental Health Issues

This is a case study on family violence involving persons with mental health issues.

Our client had been involved in a domestic dispute with her partner and 000 was called. It was a high stress situation which was heightened by the fact that both people involved had considerable mental health issues.

What is alleged to have occured?
The couple were bickering over the course of the day until it exploded and a 000 call was made by the client’s partner. Unfortunately, the arrival of police escalated the situation rather than diffused it. The police did not have an opportunity to fully understand the mental health component of the situation.

The client was experiencing a manic spell and was having an episode which is a byproduct of her mental illness. She had quickly lost control of her actions and the situation as she perceived it. She was interviewed by the police and, as a result of the 000 call and her statement, both parties were charged and were required to go to court.

What happened at court?
We provided legal representation for the client at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. The charges she faced were:

Both parties attempted to explain the situation to the police prosecutors at the first court appearance. Unfortunately, the prosecution did not agree and it was adjourned to a contest mention. This meant that the client was going to have to return home to Brisbane with this matter still hanging over her head and then return to Melbourne to continue negotiating. This only made managing her mental health more difficult.

It was then when we were retained to act on the client’s behalf. Sometimes, circumstances where charges are laid can seem unfair. And sometimes unfairness can feel as though it is snowballing. Having a lawyer act on your behalf is incredibly beneficial as they understand the relevant parts of the law as well as how to best manage the idiosyncrasies of the court process.

We contacted the informant to collect further evidence and to have a preliminary discussion. He contacted treating doctors and psychologists. He collected a statement of no complaint from his client and then presented this information to the police prosecutor.

We further explained to the prosecution that they were attempting to call an ambulance, not a police unit.

What was the result?
Ultimately, all charges were withdrawn against the client and her self-represented partner. For this case of family violence involving persons with mental health issues, it is likely that the same result would have occurred at the first court hearing had we been involved from the outset of the issue.

Elements of Breach Family Violence Intervention Order:
  • A family violence intervention order has been made against the accused; and
  • The accused has been served with a copy of the order; or
  • An explanation of the order was given to the accused in accordance with section 57(1) or 96(1) of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008; and
  • The accused contravened the order; or
  • A parenting plan has been implemented and is recognized by the family violence intervention order and one of the requirements in the plan has been contravened.
Related case studies
DISCLAIMER: This is a real case study of an actual case from our files. Details pertaining to the client have been changed to protect their privacy. The sentence imposed and the charge have not been altered. These case studies are published to demonstrate real outcomes and give an indication of possible tariffs in Court. We do not guarantee a similar case on these charges will get the same result. Please note that we post results at our discretion, therefore while many case studies are average results, others are notable for their exceptional outcomes. PUBLISHED 17/10/2019