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What you need to know about your AVO

Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO) are orders made by a Magistrate of the Local Court or Children’s Court to protect a person from violence, harassment, stalking and intimidation.

There are two types of AVO’s:

  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVO): these orders apply to people that are involved in a domestic relationship. Domestic relationship includes people that are or were married, in a de-factor or intimate relationship, living together and relatives.
  • Apprehended Personal Violence Orders: these orders apply to people that are not involved in a domestic relationship such neighbours, clients, former friends or work colleagues.

There are two ways of obtaining an AVO:

  • Police make an application on behalf of a person in need of protection. This will happen most often in circumstances where there has been an alleged assault on them by the alleged perpetrator. A police officer can also apply for a telephone interim AVO (also known as a provision AVO) if they feel the victim is at imminent risk or personal harm. If the victim is under 16 the application mustbe made by police.
  • The person in need of protection makes application to the Local Court. AVOs are not automatically made by the Court.

AVOs have serious consequences for the person against whom they are made. A breach of an AVO is an offence and can result in the person against whom the order is made (‘the defendant’) being criminally charged. Therefore, if the defendant disputes an AVO, the person in need of protection is required to prove their case before the Court on the balance of probabilities. This will involve a Court hearing where all witnesses may be required to give evidence.

It is possible for a defendant to consent to the making of an AVO on agreed terms either with or without admitting the allegations against them.

Where an interim order is made, the orders will have the same effect as a final order until the matter is heard by the Court.

What constitutes “violence”? 

Physical violence does not need to be proved for an AVO to be granted. The reasonable apprehension or fear of violence is sufficient.  AVOs exist to stop physical violence, stalking, harassment and intimidation of a person by another.  If police have witnessed intimidating and aggressive behaviour or there are grounds to believe that an offence of violence has been committed against the person in need of protection, they are required to take action whether the person at risk agrees or not.

AVO conditions

Once a Court order is made by a Magistrate, conditions will apply.

Typical conditions include the prohibition of:

  • interfering with the person in need of protection
  • assaulting
  • intimidating
  • harassing
  • threatening
  • molesting

Extra conditions may be included in the AVO to stop the defendant from approaching the person in need of protection, or entering places where the person in need of protection lives, works or frequents.

Conditions can also include the prohibition of the defendant approaching the person in need of protection after:

  • taking drugs
  • consuming alcohol
  • damaging property
  • other conditions as agreed by the Court or parties.

Consequences of an AVO

An interim AVO can be accepted without admission to the court or defended. It is therefore potentially possible to have the interim AVO revoked.

The procedure in relation to obtaining an AVO hearing is the same that applies to other charges brought against individuals and is heard by a Magistrate of a Local Court. The difference is that an AVO is not classified as a criminal offence and is not recorded as an offence on a criminal record. Breaching an AVO however is a criminal offence and is viewed very seriously by those exercising judicial authority. A person who has had an AVO against them cannot hold a firearms licence for a prescribed period. Whilst it is not a criminal offence, the police keep a record of the AVO on a database.

Helpful glossary of terms

PP: Protected Person

PINOP: Person In Need of Protection

Applicant: The person who has made the application for an AVO (Police Officer or the victim/PINOP)

Defendant: The person against whom an application for an AVO has been made

Interim AVO: A temporary order until final decision of the Court

Final Order: The final decision of the Court

*The material provided in our information sheets is for general knowledge only and is not a substitute for independent legal advice. For further information about the issues affecting you, please contact one of our experienced and professional lawyers for expert advice.

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