An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is an order which limits the contact you can have with the ‘person in need of protection’ (PINOP). Conditions range from prohibiting harassment all the way through to a complete ban on all forms of contact including the passing of messages through a third party.
There are two types of AVO; an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) is used where there is a domestic relationship between you and the PINOP. This can include your partner, ex partner, children, parents in law and even former partners. An Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) is used in all other situations; for instance where the PINOP is your neighbour or a colleague.
What are valid grounds for applying for an AVO?
While ADVOs and APVOs are technically different types of orders, the basic test the Court applies is the same for each. The Local Court may make an AVO if it is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the person for whom the AVO is being sought has reasonable grounds to fear, and in fact fears:
The commission of an offence of violence
While most applicants will have to satisfy the court that they are in fear, there is no such requirement for certain categories of person including:
Children under 16
Persons suffering appreciably below average intelligence
Persons who have previously been assaulted by the defendant; where
There is a reasonable likelihood that the defendant may assault the applicant again; and
The making of the ADVO is necessary to protect against this
Who can apply for an AVO?
An application for an AVO can be made either personally by the person who is seeking protection, their representative or a police officer. If the police make the application they will represent the PINOP at Court. Often in this case the person responding to the application will also be facing related criminal charges.
If the police are not involved, the applicant will either have torepresent themselves or retain a lawyer. In either case the person defending themselves against the application will either have to represent themselves or have a lawyer represent them.
Where a person faces domestic violence charges or police suspect / believe that there has been or will be a domestic violence incident, the law states that they MUST apply for an AVO for the PINOP. As a result, if you are facing domestic violence charges, you will almost certainly also have to respond to an application for an AVO.
Consequences of an AVO being made
If an AVO is made you do not receive a criminal record, however it can still have a dramatic impact on your life. Apart from limiting or preventing contact with the PINOP and his/her family (including mutual children), it can also have the following impacts:
It may prevent you from working with children
Any firearms you own will have to be surrendered, and your firearms license will be revoked
You will not be able to apply for a firearms license for ten years after the expiration of the AVO
It may affect your ability to work as a security officer or police officer
Police will keep a record that you have had an AVO made against you
There is often an option to agree to an AVO without making any admissions to the conduct which forms the grounds of the application. This can be tempting as it saves time and money; however, this is a decision which should not be taken lightly given the significant consequences that can follow. It is recommended that you speak to an experienced defence lawyer before making any decisions.
BREACH OF AN AVO
An AVO is not a criminal matter, however any breach can result in a criminal charge. While things such as violence, intimidation and harassment will breach any AVO, other acts such as contacting or approaching the PINOP can constiutute a breach if the AVO has specifically prohibited such acts.
There are potentially many ways that a breach of an AVO charge might be defended. Many of these are technical in nature and will only be identifiable to a lawyer experienced in AVO process and procedure. It is therefore highly recommended that you seek the advice and representation of a skilled defence lawyer before making any other decisions.
All AVO breaches are considered serious, in part because acting in contravention of an AVO is to breach a Court order. If the breach involves physical violence the law states that upon a plea of guilty or conviction, a sentence of imprisonment MUST be imposed unless the court orders otherwise. This does not mean that a gaol sentence will always be imposed; however it means that you should be properly prepared with strong representation.
Maximum penalty: 2 years imprisonment / $5500 fine