In response to the alleged murder of Molly Ticehurst in April 2024, by her former partner, the NSW Government has introduced changes to the state’s bail laws aimed at increasing protection for domestic violence victims.

Reversal of Presumption of Bail

The most significant change is the reversal of the presumption of bail for those accused of serious domestic violence offenses. These individuals must now pass a “show-cause” test to demonstrate why they should be released into the community. 

Magistrates and registrars are required to prioritise safety when making bail decisions for serious domestic violence offenders. This includes considering past dangerous behaviours like animal abuse and stalking, which often indicate a propensity for further violence.

Those people are at the serious end and have the highest risk of continued domestic violence assaults in our community,” Premier Chris Minns said. “We believe the laws balance the rights of an individual’s presumption of innocence as well the right of a victim survivor to be safe from harassment, intimidation or further assault at the hands of a previous intimate partner”.

Given these changes, it would follow that more people are expected to be remanded into custody.

The government also plans to enhance electronic monitoring to ensure strict surveillance of serious offenders released on bail.

Implementation Challenges

Serious alleged violent offenders in regional and weekend courts must appear via video conference before a Magistrate, as Registrars are no longer allowed to make decisions of this nature. As some of these courtrooms were built a century ago, it will take some time for inefficiencies of streaming those in custody to rectify.

Legislative Context

Attorney General Michael Daley said that these reforms were developed after extensive consultation with domestic violence experts and legal professionals (such as the Ministers for Women and Prevention of Domestic Violence). The reforms also introduce the offense of coercive control, addressing behaviours that often precede domestic violence homicides. 

The bail act is all about balance and these measures that we are bringing to the parliament, we say, strike that balance,” Daley said.

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