Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO’s): Essential information

Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO’s): Essential information

In any week in a NSW Local Court, a large percentage of the matters dealt with concern Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO’s). The purpose of an AVO is to protect people from others who may commit violence against them.

There are two types of AVOs:

1. ADVO (Apprehended Domestic Violence Order). This relates to the protection of person/s where the people involved are related and/or have (or have had) a domestic or intimate relationship.

2. APVO (Apprehended Personal Violence Order). This the protection of a person (or persons) where there is no domestic relationship between the parties; for example, against neighbours or co-workers..

The process of obtaining an AVO:

A person aged 16 years or older who believes that s/he has been the victim of violence, threatened with physical harm and/or has been stalked, harassed or intimidated, and believes that this behaviour will continue can apply for an AVO. Notice that a Police Officer may also apply for an AVO on behalf of an individual, and in many cases this is done in association with the laying of criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator of the act of violence toward the individual in question. An AVO can also be obtained after a person reports a matter to the police. Police will assess the reported matter, obtain a witness statement if required, and if they then believe that an ADVO is necessary to ensure an individual’s safety and protection, issue one.

When an AVO is made, three ‘mandatory’ conditions are attached; these are that the defendant (the person the AVO is against) must not:

  • assault or threaten the protected person;
  • stalk, harass or intimidate the protected person;
  • intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage the protected person’s property.

The Court can make additional orders — such as ‘prohibiting or restricting’ the defendant from approaching the protected person (the person for whom the AVO is issued) at work or other premises.

When the Court makes an Order:

The Court can make an AVO if it is satisfied that the person to be protected has ‘reasonable grounds’ to fear that the defendant is likely to be violent towards that individual and/or is likely to intimidate or stalk him/her.
Like all matters before Court, the quality of the evidence presented is crucial to the Court’s decision about the AVO applications

If you have been told to go to Court on a particular date for a ‘mention’ because there is an AVO against you, it is very important that you turn up to Court on that date because the AVO may be made in your absence. At the mention you have a number of choices:

  • 1. You can ask to have the matter adjourned (postponed) for ‘mention’ to another date — if you have a good reason for doing so. For example, if you have not had time to obtain legal advice. Even if the AVO application is adjourned, the Court will need to decide if it should make an ‘interim’ (temporary) AVO against you until the final hearing date; or
  • 2. You can consent (agree) to the AVO with or without admissions (that is, agreeing to the facts stated in the application); or
  • 3. You may not wish to consent (not agree) to the AVO; your matter will then be listed for a hearing; or
  • 4. You may agree to give an undertaking (a formal promise) to the Court if the application is withdrawn. This is less likely to be granted if the Police are applying for the AVO on behalf of the protected person.

Interim hearing:

This form of hearing is only to decide if an interim, not the final order, AVO should be made
The Court will consider:

  • the reasons stated in the application about why the applicant says the order should be made against a defendant;
  • any written statements presented by either party;
  • any evidence that either party gives in the witness box;
  • submissions that either party (or their lawyers) make.
What happens if the Court decides to make an interim AVO?

The Court will decide what conditions to include in the interim AVO. [See ‘What types of conditions can be put in an AVO?’] The case will then be adjourned for a final hearing.

What happens if the Court decides not to make an interim AVO?

The case will be adjourned for a final hearing.

Final hearings:

Anyone who has made a written statement may be cross-examined by the other party or the other party’s lawyer about what is in that statement.
Once the Court has looked at the evidence from the witnesses, from any documents, and from the submissions made by both sides, it then decides whether or not to make the final AVO.
If the Court decides not to make the AVO, the application will be dismissed, and the matter will be over.
If the Court decides it will make the AVO, it will then decide what conditions to include in the Order.

If an AVO is made against a defendant, it does not mean he or she will have a criminal record. It can however affect things like your future employment and your family-law case. Importantly, if someone does not follow a condition in an AVO, the consequences can be very serious and result in criminal prosecution.

Regardless whether you are seeking or defending an AVO, it is vital that you are well prepared. Being familiar with court processes and evidence, AZ Legal can be relied upon to deliver the best result for your matter.