What is an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO)?
An AVO application is usually made when a person alleges that they are in need of protection from another person. The person seeking the AVO is called the ‘protected person’.
There are two types of AVOs:
- Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs)
- Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs)
ADVOs are issued in circumstances where a domestic or family relationship exists. Domestic relationships include:
- Married couples, couples who live in the same house, couples involved in an intimate relationship
- People who live in the same house (for example, a brother and sister, or a parent and child)
APVOs are issued in circumstances where the parties are not involved in a domestic or family relationship.
There are three standard conditions that are included in an AVO. These are referred to as ‘mandatory conditions’. These conditions prohibit you from doing the following:
- Assaulting or threatening the protected person
- Stalking, harassing or intimidating the protected person
- Intentionally or recklessly destroying or damaging property belonging to the protected person.
However, the court can make additional orders if it feels that this would be appropriate. For example, the court might prevent you from going near the protected person, or going near their workplace.
The court can only order an AVO if it is satisfied that the protected person has reasonable grounds to fear that you will be violent towards them, stalk them or intimidate them. It is also necessary for the court to be persuaded that the protected person is fearful.
Who can make an application?
There are two ways that an AVO application can be made:
- The police can make an application on the protected person’s behalf (this is called a ‘police application’); or
- An individual can apply personally at the local court (this is called a ‘private application’).
If a private application is made, the AVO proceedings become a ‘civil matter’ (as opposed to a criminal matter).
If the court decides not to make an AVO in a civil matter, there is often an opportunity to ask the court to make a costs order against the person who initiated the proceedings. If the court makes this order, the person seeking the AVO will have to pay some of your legal fees.
How can I defend myself?
While AVOs will not show up on your criminal record, they will still show up on a background check. This could affect many areas of your life, including your employment.
If an AVO application has been made against you, it is very important to seek legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer. The court has the power to order an AVO in your absence, so it is very important that you attend court on your ‘mention’ date.