Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) are variable and each case depends on its own circumstances. If you are the subject of an order, or charged with breaching an order, you should obtain legal advice immediately.

Domestic violence is violence in a personal relationship, whether it is a family relationship, an intimate relationship, a housemate relationship or the like. Domestic violence is the subject of criminal laws. Apprehended Violence Orders are in the nature of a civil remedy, but the breach of an order is a criminal offence.

When a person is charged with a serious offence, the Court must make an interim order. Such an order can be made without admission. A final order must be made upon conviction for such an offence. Serious offences include attempted murder, sexual assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Alternatively, an eligible person may apply for an AVO. The granting of an order is determined on the balance of probabilities, rather than to the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt. In other words, the granting of an order is not the same as a criminal conviction.

The Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW) is the primary NSW law regulating domestic violence. The Court can make orders pursuant to this Act in relation to people who are in, or who have been in, a domestic relationship. An AVO order is a restraining order in the form of conditions imposed upon an individual in light of the circumstances. The conditions that must be imposed prevent a defendant from:

  1. Assaulting or threatening the person in need of protection;
  2. Stalking, harassing or intimidating the person in need of protection;
  3. Intentionally or recklessly destroying or damaging any property that belongs to or is in the possession of the person in need of protection.

The court also has a discretion to make orders including orders:

  • prohibiting or restricting the defendant from approaching the protected person;
  • prohibiting or restricting access by the defendant to any premises occupied by the protected person or any other specified premises;
  • prohibiting or restricting access by the defendant to any place where the protected person may work;
  • prohibiting or restricting access by the defendant to any place where the protected person may attend for educational purposes;
  • prohibiting the defendant from approaching the protected person within a specified period after consuming alcohol or drugs;
  • prohibiting the possession of all firearms by the defendant; or

A defendant does not receive a criminal record as a result of being the subject of an AVO. It is only if a breach of an AVO condition is proved beyond reasonable doubt that a criminal record is received.

If a police officer believes on reasonable grounds that an AVO has been breached, there is a power of arrest. Section 14 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW) sets out the offence of contravening / breaching an AVO. If proved, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and/or 50 penalty units.

As such, it is important to obtain legal advice to maximise your chances of a good outcome at Court. 

If you are seeking legal advice, contact us for a free initial consultation.

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