Our Video and Blog post below gives a Guide to AVO Proceedings in NSW.
A Guide to AVO Proceedings in NSW
You may be in a domestic or personal relationship where you fear for your safety, or the safety of your children.
This fear may be based on violence you have already endured, or violence that you sincerely believe you need protection from.
Obtaining an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) from the court is one means of protecting yourself.
What is an AVO
An AVO is an order from the court against another person (the defendant) who makes you fear for your safety.
The purpose of an AVO is to protect you from further violence, harassment, intimidation or contact from the defendant.
Under the order, the court imposes a set of prohibitions or restrictions on the behaviour of the defendant necessary to ensure your safety and protection.
The conditions in every AVO prohibit the defendant from assaulting, molesting, harassing, threatening, intimidating or stalking you.
You can also seek additional restrictions against the defendant that are relevant to your case, such as prohibiting them from being within a certain distance of your home or work, or prohibiting them from any contact with you or your children within 12 hours after being intoxicated.
Where do you start?
AVO proceedings in NSW are meant to be easily accessible and simple, so that you can get a private AVO relatively quickly to protect you as soon as practicable.
You can obtain an AVO privately, or the police can make the application on your behalf.
If you’ve been violently injured by the defendant and reported it to police, typically the police will apply to court for an AVO on your behalf.
If you wish to privately obtain an AVO, visit your local court registry and obtain an application form to commence AVO proceedings in NSW.
Alternatively, a criminal lawyer will be able to help you to fill out the application form and file it in court.
You will need to set out in the application form your reasons for wanting an AVO, and what conditions or restrictions you seek.
Once filed at the local court registry, a first court date is set for your AVO proceeding.
If you visit a police station, the police will arrange to serve the application on the defendant so that they are notified of the matter.
You should arrange service as soon as practicable.
You can attend the court yourself for the hearing of the AVO application, but it’s advisable to have an experienced lawyer who is familiar with the process and knows how to put forward the strongest points in your case.
What type of AVO?
There are two types of AVOs you can seek – an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO), or an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO).
An ADVO is against a defendant with whom you are having a domestic relationship. This order doesn’t just cover an intimate relationship, such as marriage or a de facto relationship.
It includes any other domestic relationship such as a flatmate, carer, or someone in an extended kinship relationship in indigenous culture.
An APVO is for a defendant you don’t have a domestic relationship with, such as a neighbour or work colleague.
The court process
Before the main hearing, there will be short ‘mention’ dates in court, which are administrative matters to keep your proceedings on track and ready for the main hearing.
When you first appear before the magistrate, if you feel you need protection right away, you can ask for an interim AVO.
This is a temporary AVO that is in place up until the AVO hearing.
At the AVO hearing you will need to provide evidence of why you need the order. It is essential you prepare for the hearing.
Think about all the particular incidents that happened that caused you to fear for you or your children’s safety.
It is important to remember when they occurred and to try and recall every detail.
Reasons for fearing future violence can include the past incidents, any threats, incidents of stalking, or perhaps the defendant moved to a property closer to you and this alone makes you fear for your safety.
You can call other witnesses if available, or produce photos to support your case. This is advisable as any evidence other than your word adds credibility.
The defendant also has an opportunity to give their case and to cross-examine any of your witnesses.
The court considers all the evidence and determines whether an AVO ought to be ordered, and if so, the conditions.
This is when the final AVO is issued.
It lasts such time as the court determines, or 12 months.
It is also important to note that you can vary or withdraw an AVO after it has been issued.
Once you obtain an AVO, the defendant must obey certain conditions.
Any breach of those conditions and the defendant faces arrest by the police, and conviction by the court.
Breaching the conditions can even result in facing a prison sentence.
For more detailed advice about your specific situation, it may be a good idea to see a criminal lawyer who is experienced in dealing with AVO cases.