What is an AVO?

Apprehended Violence Orders provide protection to a person in need of protection by restraining the offender, or alleged offender from contacting, approaching or coming within a certain distance of the protected person and anyone they are in a domestic relationship with. An application for an apprehended violence order can be made by a police officer on behalf of a person in need of protection. Alternatively, a person in need of protection above the age of 16 can also lodge an application with the local court.

When can an AVO be ordered?

Initially, NSW Police may issue a provisional order which provides the person in need of protection until such time as the matter can be heard by the Court. Once the matter is heard by the Court, an interim or final order may be made. An interim order has the same effect as a final order in that it provides protection to the person in need of protection, and will remain in force until the matter is finalized. The interim AVO order will either be made final by the Court, or withdrawn by Police, or dismissed by the Court.

A final AVO will be made in circumstances where the named person either consents to the final order, or if the named person does not consent, the Court determines that the AVO is necessary following a hearing. If the matter proceeds to hearing, the Court must be satisfied that:

  1. The person in need of protection has reasonable grounds to fear, and does fear that the named person will commit a personal violence offence against them, or that the named person will intimidate or stalk them; and
  2. Such conduct is sufficient to warrant the making of an order.

What does an AVO cover?

There are a number of mandatory orders that the Court must make when granting an application for an AVO, which include:

  1. Prohibiting the named person from harassing, threatening, molesting, assaulting or otherwise interfering with the person in need of protection;
  2. Prohibiting the named person from intimidating, or engaging in conduct that may intimidate, the protected person;
  3. Prohibiting the named person from stalking the protected person;
  4. Prohibiting the named person from damaging or destroying the property of the protected person.

In addition to the mandatory orders, the Court may also include some additional orders, such as:

  1. Prohibiting or restricting the named person from contacting or approaching the person in need of protection;
  2. Prohibiting the named person from approaching or entering the home of the person in need of protection;
  3. Prohibiting the named person from approaching or entering the workplace of, or any other place that the person in need of protection often attends;
  4. Prohibiting the named person from contacting the person in need of protection within 12 hours of consuming alcohol or illicit drugs.

What do if an AVO is taken out against you

If you are a defendant, or named person, in an application for an apprehended violence order, you have a number of options, including:

  1. Provide an undertaking to the court that you will no longer cause the person in need of protection to fear you.
  2. Agree to the conditions contained within the apprehended violence order, without admitting to the allegations against you.
  3. Agree to the conditions contained within the apprehended violence order, admitting to the allegations against you.
  4. Proceed to a hearing and entirely defend the application for the apprehended violence order so a magistrate can decide whether to make the order or dismiss the application.

Will I get a criminal record if an AVO is taken out against me?

If an apprehended violence order is made against you, you are not given a criminal record. However, in the event that you breach the apprehended violence order, it is a criminal offence and the maximum penalty is a fine of $5,500.00 and/or two years imprisonment.

How we can help?

The Criminal team at Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers are experienced in attending Court to assist in defending an AVO. There are a number of options available and it is important to obtain independent legal advice before attending Court.