An Apprehended Violence Order (A.V.O.) can be made in a Local Court if the Magistrate is satisfied that the Applicant has reasonable grounds to fear, and in fact fears, any of the following:
The victim does not have to be physically assaulted or to suffer physical abuse to have an Order granted by the Court; intimidation or harassment by the Defendant is sufficient. Actual or threatened damage by the Defendant to the property of the Applicant are also grounds for an AVO application.
The Magistrate may make Orders that:
A.V.O.'s can be made for a maximum of two years. A Respondent may appeal to the District Court against the making of an A.V.O. The Applicant and the Respondent (or Police if they sought the A.V.O.) can apply to the Local Court for variation or revocation of an A.V.O.
You may apply for an A.V.O. yourself, or the Police may apply on your behalf. The Police are obliged to apply for an AVO. where they suspect or believe a domestic violence offence has been, or is likely to be, committed.
When the Police bring an Application for an A.V.O on your behalf then the Police Prosecutor must represent you in Court. You are not entitled to have your own private lawyer appear for you.
You can apply for an A.V.O. yourself by lodging a complaint with a Clerk of a Local Court. The clerk will prepare a summons containing details of the Orders you seek and the incident causing you to have fears for your safety. The Application will be listed in Court and a copy served on the Defendant. You may represent yourself or have a private lawyer appear for you. The Police Prosecutor will generally not appear unless Police have been involved.
Orders can be made by consent at the first Court date. If the Defendant does not consent to the AVO, the matter will be set down for hearing at a later date. At the hearing, evidence will be given by each party and any supporting witnesses.
Defending A.V.O.'s can be stressful, costly and time consuming. You may choose to consent to the Orders sought (or different Orders agreed to by negotiation) without admitting the allegations made by the Applicant.
An A.V.O. however has serious consequences (see below) and you should only consent after careful consideration. If you do not consent to the Orders sought, the matter will proceed to a hearing. At a hearing, you are entitled to give evidence and cross-examine the Applicant. You are entitled to be represented at Court by a lawyer.
The making of an A.V.O. does not constitute a criminal offence. A breach of an A.V.O. - if proved - however is a criminal offence (regardless of whether the particular incident that gave rise to the breach is itself a criminal offence). A report of an alleged breach of an A.V.O. will result in arrest and criminal charges being laid. Unless the Defendant pleads guilty, a Court will need to determine whether the A.V.O. was breached or not.
Depending on the terms of the A.V.O., an A.V.O. may restrict the Defendant spending time with their children. A Court Order allowing time spent between a parent and child will prevail over an A.V.O. but only to the extent that the Court Order is inconsistent with the terms of the A.V.O. Therefore terms of the A.V.O. that are not inconsistent continue to be in force.
An A.V.O. sought by a Police Officer for the protection of children could restrict the Defendant from obtaining or remaining in employment in any child related fields.
An A.V.O. may also restrict the ability of the Defendant to attend counselling and mediation with the Applicant.