New offences and tougher sentences for domestic violence and attacks on Gardaí come into force today.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said the new laws, contained in the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2023, are aimed at “building stronger, safer communities”.
The act contains a range of new offences related to domestic and gender-based violence, organised crime and attacks on emergency services.
The maximum sentence for assault causing harm - a common offence in domestic abuse cases as well as in other assaults - is doubling from five years to 10 years.
Meanwhile, the existing harassment offence is being widened to include any conduct that “seriously interferes with a person’s peace and privacy, or causes alarm, distress or harm”.
A new standalone offence of stalking, with a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison, has also been created and is now in effect.
Another new offence of non-fatal strangulation or non-fatal suffocation will carry a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Meanwhile, a new offence of non-fatal strangulation or non-fatal suffocation causing serious harm has also been created and will carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The act also sees the maximum sentence for assaulting or threatening to assault a Garda or other on-duty emergency worker increasing from seven to 12 years.
Meanwhile, the maximum sentence for conspiracy to murder, usually seen in gang-related prosecutions, is increasing from the current penalty of 10 years to life imprisonment.