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Domestic violence court matters during COVID-19

During COVID-19, there have been a number of changes made by the Local Court with regard to how, and when, matters will proceed. In relation to Domestic Violence matters,...

Justin Wong

During COVID-19, there have been a number of changes made by the Local Court with regard to how, and when, matters will proceed.

In relation to Domestic Violence matters, which are usually fast-tracked through the court system, the court has implemented the following changes, which apply both to defendants and those seeking protection through an AVO:

Existing Domestic Violence Matters

  • All AVO hearings listed from now until 1 May 2020 will not proceed. The matter will either be adjourned to the same date as an associated charge, or if there are no associated charges, the matter will be adjourned for no less than 3 months. A mention date will be set by the court and on this date, a new hearing date will likely be allocated.
  • All defended domestic violence charges listed between now and 1 May 2020 will also not proceed. The matter will be adjourned for no less than 3 months. A mention date will be set by the court and on this date, a new hearing date will likely be allocated.
  • AVO matters that will be agreed to, can be finalised in writing by email to the court with the consent of both parties. This means a magistrate can now make final orders for an AVO without the physical appearance of parties in court.
  • Sentence matters can proceed via written submissions from legal representatives to the court. In exceptional circumstances, the court will allow in person appearances.
  • A protected person does not need to attend court unless the matter is proceeding to hearing that day.

New Domestic Violence Matters

  • If you are issued a provisional AVO by police, the police are now able to have the matter listed in court for a period of up to 6 months from the date the order was made. Previously, police were required to list the provisional AVO before a court as soon as possible and within 28 days of the order being made.

    The effect of these new procedures is that the provisional AVO can remain in place for a much longer period before the AVO will be determined by a magistrate. In the meantime, you must obey all orders within the AVO or you could be committing a criminal offence of Contravene AVO.

    Practically, the NSW Police and Courts are implementing the new procedures in the following ways:
    • Where there is a Provisional AVO with no criminal charge: The order will be listed approximately 3 months from the date that the provisional order is made.
    • Where there is a Provisional AVO and an associated criminal charge: The order will be listed on the same date that the criminal charge is first listed. Both matters will then be adjourned for 8 weeks.
    • If the AVO is to be contested, then service of evidence is permitted by email.
  • If you have a Provisional AVO in place, and before the matter is listed at court, a fresh incident occurs, then police will order a fresh provisional order. The fresh order will refer to the original incident, it will detail the new incident, and it will be listed on the same court date as the original provisional order.

Urgent Applications

For any urgent applications, the court has the power to divert away from the above procedures. For example, if you require a variation to an AVO, or you wish to make an urgent application for it to be revoked.

If you need help making an urgent application, or if you require assistance regarding what is happening with your existing AVO or domestic violence matter, our lawyers are available to assist. Please call us on (02) 9025 9888 to speak to one of our criminal law specialists.

Photo by Melanie Shires