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What is a Family Violence Intervention Order?

You may be familiar with intervention orders, which are also known by other titles such as AVOs, DVOs, and restraining orders. What you may not realise is that they can have long-term consequences, not just in terms of movement restrictions, but also in terms of child care and interaction. They may even forcibly take you from your home.

An intervention order can ban you from having direct or indirect communication with the protected person, whether via phone, email, or through a third party. It can also keep you from being in close proximity to places where the person(s) may congregate, such as their house, employment, or your child’s school.

When can I expect an Intervention Order to be served on me?

Intervention Orders are usually issued in conjunction with a criminal charge, such as assault against a partner or family member, but they can sometimes be issued without criminal prosecution. Without the involvement of the police, an application might be filed confidentially with the Court. Intervention Orders can be issued for a variety of reasons, including for individuals who are involved in or out of a relationship.

When I’m served with a Family Violence Intervention Order, what happens next?

Even though the Intervention Order has only been served on you for a short time, it is still in effect. After that, the case will be heard in court. The court can issue the order if it has reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant would commit an act of abuse against a person if he or she is not intervened.

Abuse is defined as any act that causes one or more of the following:

  • Physical hurt, emotional or psychological suffering (including mental illness, nervous shock, discomfort, anxiety, or fear that is more than small), unreasonably denial of financial autonomy, or property damage

The Court must also be convinced that making the order is appropriate in all of the circumstances.

Once the Court issues an order, it is in effect indefinitely. After 12 months, the defendant can file an application to alter or revoke the Order.

In certain cases, police might apply for an Intervention Order (IVO) on behalf of a member of the Affected Family (AFM). Being served with an interim IVO can be quite upsetting, especially if you are barred from seeing your family or seeing your children. You must fully comprehend the terms and ensure that you follow them. When it comes to violations of an interim IVO, the police have no discretion, and you could face criminal charges.

Requesting that the Order be revoked.

Police are unlikely to withdraw their support for the interim IVO after the application has been submitted. It does, however, happen in rare instances. A police officer with the rank of serjeant or higher, or an acceptable senior police lawyer, will have to approve the withdrawal. Because of the nature of the negotiations, it’s generally better to hire a lawyer to represent you in these discussions.

Acceptance of a Court Order

If the interim IVO’s limitations are restricted, or you simply want to put the matter to rest, you might assent to the order without making any admissions. This implies that you do not confirm or deny any of the AFM’s charges of domestic violence. If you want to go this route, the Magistrate will issue a final IVO. This is usually for 12 to 24 months, although magistrates have wide discretion and can impose longer or even indefinite orders if they believe it is necessary.

Agree to an Undertaking

An undertaking is a formal written pledge made to the Applicant and the Court that you will follow specific requirements, which are usually the same as the interim IVO restrictions. You must agree to accept the Undertaking from the Applicant. If you later fail to comply with any of the criteria and thereby breach the Undertaking, you will not be prosecuted criminally. The Applicant can, however, resubmit their initial application for the IVO.

Even if the AFM agrees, police rarely agree to accept an Undertaking.

Object to the Order

If you want to challenge the Intervention Order, you’ll have to go to the Magistrates’ Court for multiple hearings. The following are the three processes of contesting/challenging an Intervention Order:

1) Mention Hearing;

2) Directions Hearing; and

3) Contested Hearing.

This procedure would ordinarily take 8 to 12 months, but due to the current backlog of cases resulting from the COVID-19 shutdowns, it will take longer. In the meanwhile, the interim IVO may continue to operate.

If criminal charges are filed as a result of the alleged domestic violence incident, the Court will attempt to handle both cases at the same time, which may lengthen the process.

The police member (informant) will be expected to undertake a Risk Assessment prior to the initial mention hearing. Before conducting an overall assessment of the Order, the police member will enquire about any other family violence events or breaches, as well as attempt to communicate with the AFM and you. Because of court restrictions, the complete contents of this assessment will only be known to the Police Prosecutor.

The parties advise the Magistrate of the points in dispute, the number of witnesses they want to call, and the required time for the hearing during a directions hearing.

A contested hearing is when the Magistrate hears and considers the evidence of the parties before making a decision. If you win, the Magistrate will dismiss the Police’s application as well as the interim IVO. If you are unsuccessful, the Magistrate will issue a final IVO and conclude that you have committed domestic violence.

In family law procedures, evidence given in the Magistrates’ Court might be used. As a result, it’s critical that you grasp the implications for all facets of your life before enrolling in this course.

What if I don’t follow the Intervention Order?

Breaching an Intervention Order can have serious implications, with the first violation punishable by up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine, and any future breaches punishable by up to four years in prison and a $20,000 fine. It’s vital to remember that the defendant is responsible for following the conditions of the order, and the protected person cannot grant the defendant permission to break any of the provisions.

Is it necessary for me to hire a lawyer?

It is critical that you obtain legal representation if you have been served with an Intervention Order. Using the services of a lawyer will ensure that your case is resolved quickly and efficiently. If you do not want to dispute the order, legal assistance can help you negotiate the conditions of the order so that they are more favourable to you. However, if you do decide to challenge the case, you should be aware that an unrepresented defendant’s ability to conduct a trial is limited.