An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is an order made by a Court that prohibits a person from certain behaviour such as harassment, stalking, intimidation, violence, or the threat of violence.

There are generally two types:

  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) – taken against a family member including spouses, de facto partners, intimate partners, and ex-spouses/partners
  • Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) – for protection from someone other than family members.

What is family violence?

An AVDO may be applied for in cases where there is actual or threatened family violence in a relationship or past relationship.

Family violence is actual or threatened conduct by a family member towards another family member or property that causes a person to be fearful or anxious about his or her safety or wellbeing. A child is exposed to family violence if he or she hears or experiences the effects of family violence.

Family violence can include actual or threatened assault or sexual assault, stalking, derogatory and intimidating remarks, intentional damage or destruction of property, intentionally hurting or killing an animal, unreasonable suppression of financial resources or support and preventing or depriving a family member of his or her cultural connections or freedom.

How does an AVO work?

The purpose of an AVO is to provide somebody with protection from the type of behaviour described above. It usually states that a person cannot behave in certain ways or go within a certain distance of the home or workplace of the person lodging the complaint.

The Court may make an AVO if a defendant consents to an AVO being made, or if evidence is heard proving that a person in need of protection fears violence or harassment by the defendant. The Court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for these fears to make an AVO.

Interim and urgent applications

The Court may make interim and provisional orders in urgent situations and in the absence of, and without notice to, the respondent named in an application. The Court has broad discretion and may, in its determination, consider matters such as:

  • whether there is a history or allegations of family violence or child abuse
  • any past proceedings between the parties, whether there are orders presently in place and if these orders have previously been breached
  • the likely hardship or prejudice to the respondent, child, or other party if the order is made
  • the likely damage or harm that may eventuate if the order is not made

If you need an AVO or if somebody is seeking an AVO against you, we recommend you contact one of our experienced criminal lawyers immediately. Delay can seriously compromise your position. If you need urgent protection, contact Localthe Police without delay.

The effect of an AVO on a defendant

The issue of an AVO is a civil remedy and accordingly does not constitute a criminal offence. However, breaching an AVO is a serious criminal matter which can result in a conviction. If the alleged breach involved violence it will likely result in a prison sentence if found to be proved.

The Court may impose whatever limitations or prohibitions on the defendant’s behaviour considered necessary to protect the applicant and his or her children. The order may restrain the defendant from assaulting, harassing, threatening, stalking or intimidating the other person and from accessing/attending his or her premises or place of work.

When the AVO is made, the defendant may need to give any firearms in his or her possession or control to the police. Details of the AVO are retained in a database.

What happens if someone unjustly seeks an AVO against you?

You have the right to oppose an AVO being made against you. You have the right to have the matter adjourned for trial at a later date. Under these circumstances, an interim AVO may be issued until the trial date. It may be possible to prevent an interim order being made depending on the circumstances.

If you are facing or fearing violence or have been named as a defendant in an application for an AVO, our experienced lawyers can help. If your application or defence is successful, we may also be able to seek a costs order in your favour.

If you need assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 02 4297 6066 for expert legal advice.