An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) protects individuals from threats, harassment, and violence.
If you’re wondering how to get an AVO, this guide is designed to walk you through the process, providing step-by-step instructions.
- AVOs cover domestic and personal violence. It’s essential to understand which one you need.
- Initiate the application through the police or local Court.
- You must attend Court so the Court may determine your case.
- The Court will assess if there are reasonable grounds for the order.
- Once the order is granted, the respondent is bound by its conditions.
- It’s a criminal offence to breach an AVO.
How do you get an AVO (Apprehended Violence Order)?
Step 1: Understanding the Types of Apprehended Violence Orders
Protection orders are peculiar court orders in Australian family law. While they function the same across jurisdictions, each state uses its own naming conventions. New South Wales law refers to an apprehended domestic violence order (or apprehended violence order) and an apprehended personal violence order. However, apprehended violence orders are called domestic violence orders (DVOs) in Queensland.
There are two types of AVOs. They are:
Apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO)
These are intended to protect victims of domestic violence by imposing conditions on the behaviour of the person who has committed the violence (the respondent). ADVOs relate to the actions of a person the victim is in a domestic relationship with. Conditions may include prohibiting the respondent from approaching or contacting the victim, coming to their home or workplace, or committing further acts of domestic violence.
Apprehended personal violence order (APVO)
an APVO operates in essentially the same way as an ADVO. The primary difference is an APVO applies to a respondent with whom the victim is not in a domestic relationship. This may be a coworker, neighbour, etc.
A victim of domestic violence can utilise parenting orders to provide protective measures for their family. These orders can include conditions related to the safety and welfare of children, which indirectly address domestic violence concerns.
Step 2: Initiating the Application for an Apprehended Violence Order
How can I apply?
You can apply for the AVO or have a senior police officer, lawyer, family member, or friend apply.
If you’re applying, begin by accessing an application form at your local Magistrates Court. At some local courts, you can access an AVO kit. At other times, the court registrar will assist with your application by appointment.
If the form doesn’t have enough space to accommodate your information, you can write on a separate sheet and attach it to the form.
After completing the form, you must sign the statutory declaration before a Justice of the Peace (JP). You then send the form to the Magistrates Court by post or in person. Magistrates Courts typically have a JP onsite, so you can complete the application and file it with the Court in one visit.
Provide detailed information about the domestic violence incidents. Include dates, descriptions of the incidents, and the names of any witnesses. You’ll also need to provide personal details about yourself (the applicant) and the respondent (the person you seek protection from).
Include as much detail as possible. Try to recall the exact words the respondent said to you.
The Court will include the names of any child the victim has a domestic relationship with as protected persons. Children’s names will only be omitted if the Court finds good reasons.
Protection orders do not have a filing fee.
Step 3: Local Court Proceedings
The court process for AVOs is governed by the Local Court Practice Note 2 of 2012. After an application, the applicant will receive the first court date. This date must be included in the application when it is served on the respondent by the police.
The court process can proceed in one of several ways:
- The respondent agrees to the application without admitting fault. The Magistrate will then make an AVO.
- The respondent chooses to contest the application. The Court may then make an interim order.
- The respondent doesn’t appear and hasn’t been served. The Court may adjourn the case to a future date.
- The respondent doesn’t appear and has been served. The Court may grant a final AVO.
Contact Shanahan Family Law for a free discovery call if you need help with domestic violence or any other family law issues.
Step 4: The Hearing and Determining Reasonable Grounds
If the respondent contests the application, the matter will proceed to Court. During the hearing, each party may provide evidence and cross-examine witnesses. The Court will determine if the case satisfies the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 requirements. The Court only needs to decide if it’s more probable than not that the domestic violence incidents occurred.
Domestic violence proceedings occur in a closed court with strict restrictions on what information may be published to the public.
Step 5: Issuing the AVO and Understanding the Conditions
If the Court is satisfied that an AVO is necessary, it will issue an order. The order includes conditions to protect the person seeking the AVO, known as the protected person, from further violence.
All AVOs include a standard condition that the respondent must not:
Do any of the following to (protected people) or anyone (she/he/they) (has/have) a domestic relationship with:
A) Assault or threaten (her/him/them),
B) Stalk, harass or intimidate (her/him/them) and
C) Deliberately or recklessly destroy or damage anything that belongs to (protected people).
Orders can include additional conditions, such as that the respondent must not:
- Contact you by phone, email, social media or other avenue;
- Try to monitor your movements through a GPS tracking device or other spyware;
- Stay a minimum distance from you;
- Stay a minimum distance from specific locations such as your work or home;
- Damage your belongings or harm your pets.
Step 6: Enforcement and Breach of an AVO
Once an AVO is in place, breaching its conditions is a criminal law offence. If the defendant breaches the order, they can be charged and receive a criminal record. It’s essential to report any breaches to the police immediately.
If a breach has occurred, the aggrieved party needs to keep records of what happened. Evidence like text messages and photos can assist a police investigation.
The penalty imposed for a breach may depend on many factors. Some things the Court may consider include the following:
- Did the breach involve violence?
- Does the defendant have a criminal record?
- How did the breach impact the aggrieved?
- Does the defendant show remorse?
- Were children present for the breach?
The Court can impose different penalties depending on the circumstances. Some penalties may include:
- A fine;
- Good behaviour bond;
- Community service;
The severity of the punishment can depend on whether it’s a first offence or if the defendant is a repeat offender.
Assistance for victims
Anyone experiencing physical or mental harm in a domestic relationship can call 1800 737 732 for confidential information, counselling and support. A domestic violence liaison officer is also employed at certain support services and police precincts to offer assistance to victims.
Obtaining an AVO involves several steps. You must understand the type of AVO you need and apply through the police or the local Court. You should then attend court proceedings and comply with the issued AVO. Breaching its conditions can lead to serious consequences.
Remember, an AVO is not a criminal charge against the defendant. However, a breach can lead to a criminal record. Understanding the process, including how to get an AVO, attend all court dates, and comply with all court orders, is crucial.
If you’re in a situation where you fear violence, don’t hesitate to seek help. Contact Shanahan Family Law to understand your options.