Apprehended violence orders (AVOs)
What is an AVO?
There are two types of AVOS:
1. An Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO)
2. An Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)
AVO stands for Apprehended Violence Order. They are orders by the court that seek to protect people. The order made protects the protected person/s from an assault, molestation, harassment, intimidation or stalking on part of the defendant.
An AVO will only be made in the case where the victim has a reasonable fear for their safety. This standard is objective and will look to whether a reasonable person would have had reasonable fear in the circumstances of the victim.
The court can also make other orders as it sees fit, for example they may order that the defendant is not to contact the protected person or come within a specific distance of their home or workplace.
Chief Justice Spigelman of the NSW Supreme Court has said in relation to AVOs that they "constitute the primary means in this State of asserting the fundamental right to freedom from fear."
What is the difference?
To be classified as an ADVO (Apprehended Domestic Violence Order) the person seeking protection must have been in a domestic relationship with the defendant. "Domestic relationship" is defined very broadly and can even include a housemate or a carer.
An APVO (Apprehended Personal Violence Order) covers all other relationships.
Who can apply for them?
The police or an individual who is seeking protection. Applications brought by the police can seek to protect more than one person. An application brought by an individual is to be for the protection of themselves and can include the protection of a person with whom they are in a domestic relationship with.
Someone has applied for an AVO against me, now what?
There are two possible actions to take where an AVO has been taken out against you:
1. You can consent to the AVO being made and you will be required to adhere to the orders the court has made; or
2. Defend against the AVO.
Before making any decisions about whether to defend or not, it would be prudent to obtain legal advice to ensure you know exactly where you stand.
If it is an APVO matter you may wish to consider mediation, again obtaining legal advice would be beneficial.
What if the accusations are false?
The person making the accusation will be liable for a fine of $1,100 and/or 12 months in prison.
What happens if I defend the AVO?
At first instance a provisional AVO will be granted. This stays in place until the court has heard the matter and determined whether a final order should be granted.
Although a provisional AVO is not a permanent order, they should be strictly adhered to as breaching a provisional AVO is an offence.
What if I choose to consent to the AVO being granted?
You can choose to consent to an AVO being made without admissions. This means you do not have to admit to what you have been accused of.
If you consent to the AVO being made without admissions there will not be a hearing and you will not have to attend court. This saves time and money.
How long does the AVO last?
The court will specify how long the AVO is to run for, generally they are about 2 years in length.
Will an AVO show up on my criminal record?
No, an AVO is not a criminal charge.
What if I contravene an AVO?
Although it is not a criminal charge to have an AVO in place against you, if you contravene an AVO this is a crime that can lead to a criminal charge. The penalty for disobeying an AVO is 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500.
AVOs are a serious matter and they tend to crop up quite frequently. If you are served with an AVO it is best to seek legal advice so you can fully understand the implications of the AVO, as if you breach it, you will be in hot water.