The Second Protection Against Violence Act - an Overview
The Second Protection Against Violence Act, effective as of 1 June 2009, is another important step towards improving the protection of victims in Austria.
An overview of the most important changes:
- The new legislation covering the offence "persistent perpetration of violence (fortgesetzte Gewaltausübung)", section 107b StGB, examines acts of violence in their entirety within the scope of sustained violent offences, providing for more draconic punishment – e.g. serious threat of violence, physical violence and duress, as well as maltreatments without resulting bodily injury (e.g. slap in the face).
- Basically, the law stipulates imprisonment for up to three years. however, offences committed under aggravating circumstances can be punished by imprisonment from 10-20 years.
- The validity of a barring order imposed by the police was extended from ten days to two weeks. If within this period the affected person applies for an interim injunction, the validity of the barring order is now extended to a total of four weeks (previously 20 days).
- The option to apply for a court injunction that orders the perpetrator to leave the apartment and forbids him to return to the apartment is now open to all individuals living in this apartment – a so-called interim injunction for the "Protection against violence in apartments (Schutz vor Gewalt in Wohnungen)". So far, this option was open only to closely related persons.
The court can now issue this injunction for a period of up to six months (previously up to three months). What has remained the same is the regulation that in the event of the opening of main proceedings (e.g. divorce proceedings), the validity of the injunction is extended to cover the period up to the termination of the proceedings.
- The option to apply for a court injunction banning the perpetrator from staying in certain places or meeting or contacting the victim has now been regulated separately in the interim injunction termed "General protection against violence". This injunction can be applied for by any person who cannot be expected to tolerate any further encounters with the perpetrator (again, this option was previously open only to closely related persons).
The court can issue this injunction for a period of up to one year (previously up to three months). If the perpetrator fails to comply with this injunction, its validity can be extended.
- The interim injunction for the "Protection against invasion of privacy" (stalking) can now be issued with regard to all stipulated measures – irrespective of the opening of main proceedings – for up to one year, with the option of extending its validity in the event of non-compliance by the perpetrator. This injunction can now be filed for in the court of the victim's residence (previously in the court of the perpetrator's residence).
- As specified in the Explanatory Remarks, violent offences in partnerships (especially in violent relationships of longer duration) do not lend themselves to out-of-court reconciliation as a means of altering such violent situations, because they do not appear accessible to mediation.
- The limitation period for (sexual) violence offences against minors was extended by the Second Protection Against Violence Act and further prolonged by 01.01.2010 until completion of the victims 28th year.
- The protection afforded by criminal law to sexual integrity was enhanced further (increase of sanctions, criminal liability for knowingly watching child pornography on the internet, improved possibilities for judicial monitoring of sexual offenders, tightened provisions regulating criminal registers and extension of disclosure options).
- The procedural rights of the victims were improved (better protection of the victim's address, optional gentle questioning in a civil action that is related to criminal proceedings).
- Psychosocial assistance during proceedings was extended to civil proceedings (related to the offence) between victims and perpetrators (e.g. action for damages). Expenses amounting to 800 euro – 1,200 euro if the victim is eligible for legal aid - will be borne by the state. If the victim is eligible for legal aid, she/he can claim free legal assistance during civil proceedings.
- Under an amendment to the Crime Victims Compensation Act, the Federal Social Office pays lump sum damages for pain and suffering - 1,000 euro to victims of grievous bodily injuries, 5,000 euro to victims of grievous bodily injuries with permanent consequences.
Legal document (in German)
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