An apprehended violence order (AVO) is an order of a court restricting a person from doing certain things against another person. There are two types of AVO’s.
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Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders
Orders sought by either the police or an individual when there is a “domestic relationship” between the parties.
Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders are often sought by the police in connection with a criminal charge such as Common Assault or Stalking. In these cases, it is likely that the police have been granted a Provisional Apprehended Violence Order at the time of charging, and they then apply for an Interim Order when the matter is first mentioned in court. If the person is later found guilty of a domestic violence related offence, unless there are special circumstances, the court will make a Final Apprehended Violence Order for the protection of the victim.
Individuals can also seek Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders to be made without the police.
Apprehended Personal Violence Orders
Orders sought in situations where there is no domestic relationship. A classic case is where neighbours are in dispute.
Anyone, including the police, can make an application for an Apprehended Personal or Domestic Violence Order. The application must be made in the Local Court.
If an individual is making the application, it must first be signed by a Registrar at the Local Court. If the Registrar believes that the application is frivolous, vexatious or without substance, they may refuse to issue the application.
Once the application is issued by the Registrar, it must be served on the person it is being sought against. The police usually do this on behalf of the person seeking the order.
The Registrar will give the matter a court date. This is known as the first mention date. All parties are required to attend court on that date.
If the person whom the order is being sought against does not consent to the Order, the matter will then be listed for a hearing on a separate day. At the hearing, a magistrate will hear all of the evidence and decide whether to make an AVO based on the situation.
In deciding to make an AVO against a person, the court considers whether it is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities that a person has reasonable grounds to fear, and does in fact fear:
1. the commission of a personal violence offence against his or herself; or
2. the engagement of the other person in conduct in which that person intimidates or stalks the person seeking the order.
If you have been served with an application for an AVO, you have two choices:
1. You can agree to the making of the order on a “non-admissions basis”; or
2. You can contest the order. If you fail to appear in court when the matter is listed, the court may make the order in your absence.
If you are contesting the order, you do not have to do or say anything once in court, but you are entitled to challenge and test any evidence the person seeking the order provides. It is important to remember that if you do not give your side of the story; the court may be left with no alternative but to accept the other person’s version of events.
Breaching an AVO, whether it was sought by the police or an individual, is serious and carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment. See our section on breaching an Apprehended Violence Order.
Streeton Lawyers can help. We are specialists in criminal law, and have represented countless people either seeking an AVO, or contesting an AVO being sought against them. For specialist representation and advice, contact us for an initial free consultation.