Apprehended Violence Orders

What is an AVO?

An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is a court order that aims to protect a person from another person that causes them to fear for their safety.

An AVO can protect a person from:

  • Violence or threats of violence
  • Stalking
  • Intimidation
  • Harassment
  • Property damage or threatened damage.

There are two types of Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs):

  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) that protect a person from domestic violence, for example by a spouse, ex-partner, or parent.
  • Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs) that protect a person from violence by anyone else, for example a neighbour, co-worker, or friend. ​

What happens when you are faced with an AVO?

When you are subject to an AVO, you will ultimately have two options:

  • Consent to the AVO, or
  • Oppose the AVO
When you consent to the AVO, you can do so on a “without admissions” basis which ultimately means that you are not accepting the conduct you are accused of but the conditions of the AVO. Remember that consenting to an AVO does not mean that you will get a conviction. However, breaching the AVO is a criminal offence which places you at risk of a conviction.

What happens when you oppose an AVO?

If you oppose an AVO, the court will adjourn the matter for a “show cause hearing”. At the hearing, the court will hear evidence from both parties and any witnesses. For a court to grant an AVO, the protected person must, on the balance of probabilities, satisfy the following:

  • That they have reasonable grounds to fear and in fact, do fear, that you will commit a personal violence offence against them, or that you will engage in conduct to intimidate or stalk them, and
  • That the fear of such conduct is sufficient grounds to warrant the making of an order.
Despite the similarities between an AVO hearing and a criminal hearing, AVO is not a criminal offence. This is evident in the lower standard of proof; balance of probabilities, in comparison with the regular standard of proof of criminal proceedings; beyond reasonable doubt.

What happens if you breach an AVO?

In NSW, contravening an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is considered to be a serious offence carrying a penalty of imprisonment for up to two (2) years and/or a fine of up to 50 penalty units.

All AVOs have a mandatory prohibition on:

  • Stalking;
  • Harassing;
  • Threatening;
  • Intimidating; or
  • Damaging the property of, the Protected Person or a person with whom they have a domestic relationship

Examples of this behaviour include:

  • Persistent contact, regardless of the method, it could be through phone calls, text messages, or social media;
  • Threatening statements to the Protected Person;
  • Attending places where the Protected Person lives, works or otherwise attends regularly without a lawful excuse.
  • Damaging property belonging to the Protected Person or a person to whom they have a domestic relationship, regardless of whether or not they were present at the time the damage was done;
  • Or attempting to do any of the above.

In addition to the mandatory orders, each AVO is tailored to the needs of the protected person and the Defendant and their personal circumstances. Therefore, to determine the prohibitions in place against you, you should review the Apprehended Violence Order documents carefully.

Common prohibitions available for an AVO are:

  • Not to reside with the Protected Person.
  • Threatening statements to the Protected Person;
  • Not to approach within a certain distance of the Protected Person’s home, work or other specified place. For example, this may include family member’s homes or children’s schools;
  • Not to contact the Protected Person at all; and
  • Not to approach the Protected person within 24 hours of consuming alcohol or drugs;

Failing to comply with any of the provisions of the AVO can result in criminal charges.

If there has been a breach, what must police prove?

For a court to convict you of “Contravene Apprehended Violence Order”, the Police bears the onus of proving, beyond reasonable doubt that you:

  • Were prohibited to act in a certain way under an Apprehended Violence Order; and
  • Contravened that prohibition; and
  • Did so knowingly the prohibition was in place.

Contact us today to discuss the possible penalties and defences available to your case.

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Joseph is an incredible lawyer with great skill. His questions during cross-examination in Court amazed me.

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