What is an AVO?
Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) aim to protect a person (the “protected person”) from violence, stalking, harassment or intimidation. These orders are made when a person fears for their safety and seeks to restrict the threatening person’s behaviour. AVOs are sometimes referred to colloquially as restraining orders and usually involve people in a close domestic relationship, but may include unrelated people such as neighbours.
There are two types of Apprehended Violence Orders:
Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)
An ADVO is made if the people involved are in a domestic relationship. This may include being or having been in an intimate relationship, being related or living together.
Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO)
An APVO is made when the people involved are not related and do not have a domestic relationship. This may include being neighbours or working together.
AVO conditions NSW
An AVO in NSW will always include a mandatory condition which states that the defendant must not:
- Assault or threaten the protected person.
- Stalk, harass or intimidate the protected person.
- Destroy or damage the property of the protected person.
Anyone in a domestic relationship with the protected person is also protected by these conditions, including children.
In some cases, further and stricter conditions may be included prohibiting the defendant from approaching the protected person or places where they live/work, or even from making contact with them. This includes physical contact or contacting them over the phone, internet, or through another person
The court can also impose any other condition as agreed by both parties or decided by the court.
How is an AVO obtained in NSW?
Applying for an AVO is easy. You can ask the police to apply for an AVO on your behalf, or the police may request a provisional AVO for your immediate protection if they fear for your safety. Complaints to the police do not have to be acted upon, but it is rare that they are not. Alternatively, you can go directly to a Local Court and apply for an AVO yourself.
After an application for an AVO is made, both parties will have to attend court. The court will impose the AVO if they are satisfied that the protected person has “reasonable grounds” to fear that the defendant will be violent, intimidate or stalk them.
While AVO applications are often justified alongside domestic violence charges, they can be used unnecessarily. Sometimes they arise from highly emotional responses, knee-jerk reactions or attempts at “payback”.
A common example of an inappropriate application for an AVO occurs in cases where rather than having genuine fears about safety, an AVO is applied for as a tactical manoeuvre in Family Court proceedings.
It is easy for someone to allege a breach of an AVO. This would generate a criminal offence and put you at risk of serious penalties including imprisonment.
Responding to an Apprehended Violence Order
If an AVO is made against you, your options include consenting to or defending the order.
Consenting to the AVO
One option is to consent to the AVO. It can save costs and having to take time off work to attend court. You can consent to an AVO without admitting the reasons that are alleged as grounds for the application.
However, there may be serious consequences of consenting to an AVO, and you should seek expert legal advice first.
Defending the AVO
You might believe that there is absolutely no need for an AVO, in which case you can elect for the matter to be set down for hearing. In some cases the matter can be settled without a formal AVO recorded.