I’ve been served. What is an AVO and what do I do now?

I’ve been served. What is an AVO and what do I do now?

What is an AVO?

An Apprehended Violence Order (or AVO) is put in place to prevent violence (or the threat of violence) between two people. They are generally used when a person feels there is a threat to their safety. They’re sometimes called restraining orders or intervention orders.

An AVO is not a criminal charge. It’s a legal tool that can be used to protect a person from future threats. It does this by restricting certain interactions between you and this person. 

Anyone can apply for an AVO if they are currently or previously have been a victim of:

  • Physical assault;
  • Threats of physical harm;
  • Stalking;
  • Intimidation; or 
  • Harassment. 

Are there different types of AVOs?

AVOs have different names depending on the relationship between the two people:

  1. Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders involve people who are related or in a domestic relationship. 
  2. Apprehended Personal Violence Orders are between any other people.

There are also different types of AVO:

  1. A Provisional AVO is made following an urgent application and only lasts 28 days.
  2. An Interim AVO is where the court temporarily protects a person until a court date at a later time. If you choose to fight an AVO application, an Interim AVO will be made until the hearing date – so you can’t contact the protected person. 
  3. A Final AVO is made when the court grants an AVO or if you agree to the AVO or if you failed to show up to court. There’s more information about this below. 

What are ‘conditions’ on an AVO?

As soon as you’re served with an AVO, you need to comply with the conditions that are listed on it. 

The AVO will include some conditions that come with all AVOs. It doesn’t mean the person protected by the AVO accused you of any of these things. They’re known as mandatory conditions and they say that you must not: 

  • assault or threaten, 
  • stalk, 
  • harass, or 
  • intimidate the person protected by the AVO. 

You’re also not allowed to damage anything that belongs to them. 

Further restrictions might be listed on the AVO, including that you can’t stay at the family home, can’t contact the person, or can’t come within a certain distance of them. 

You need to avoid doing anything listed in the AVO until your court hearing or until it expires or is revoked.

If you have been served with an AVO and you’re not sure what it means or what to do next, book a free consultation with us. Our friendly lawyers will explain your options in language you’ll understand. 

What are my rights as a defendant in an AVO case?

If you’ve been served with an AVO, you can either agree to the order or fight it. 

Agreeing to the order doesn’t go on your criminal record and it doesn’t mean that you’re admitting to what the order says. It just means that you’re willing to be bound by the order. Sometimes, agreeing to the order is the most affordable and easiest option. 

But you can fight it and – in some cases – you might need to.

Why fight an AVO?

There are two ways you can fight an AVO: 

  1. You can fight against it being granted at all; or 
  2. You can fight against one or more of the conditions of the AVO. 

Sometimes the conditions of an AVO might be impractical. For instance, if you and the protected person have kids together and you share custody, you need to be able to pick up and drop off your kids. In those cases, you can negotiate with the police or the person taking out the order to change the conditions. 

But in other cases, you might want to fight against the order being granted at all. 

You might not be able to work for certain employers or work in certain fields if you have an AVO against you. You might not be able to get a firearms license with an AVO against you either. 

Going to Court to Fight an AVO

If you’re the person fighting the AVO, you’re the defendant. As the defendant, you have to file legal statements with your evidence that demonstrates why the order shouldn’t be granted by the judge. 

Some reasons that the judge might accept include that the person protected by the order isn’t telling the truth or that you can show the person isn’t really fearful for their safety. 

Evidence you can bring to the court might be a witness that you and the protected person both know or emails or texts which show why the order shouldn’t be granted. 

You should discuss the reasons why you don’t think the order should be granted with an experienced lawyer before going to court. 

What happens if the AVO is granted in Court?

If a Final AVO is granted by the court, you must not do any of the things that are restricted by the AVO until it expires. An AVO usually expires in less than two years, but the exact timeframe will be written on your order. 

Breaching an AVO

If you do something restricted by the terms of the AVO, this is a breach. The police can arrest you and charge you with breaching the AVO because breaching an AVO is a criminal offence. 

It’s hard but you need to avoid breaching the AVO even if the person protected by it isn’t. If they contact you, we recommend that you don’t respond. If you respond, you may be found to have breached the AVO.

What happens if I breach an AVO?

If the police charge you, you’ll need to go to court and defend yourself. If you are convicted of breaching an AVO by the court, you can be fined $5,500 and/or imprisoned for a term of up to two years. 

We’re experienced criminal lawyers with plenty of experience defending people against charges for breaching AVOs. Your first appointment with us is FREE. And we’re always upfront about our fees. Get in touch with us if you’ve been served with an AVO or arrested for breaching an AVO.

Aziz and the Altria Team