Relationships between people change over the course of time.
If you have taken an apprehended violence order (AVO) out against someone, and the circumstances of your relationship with them have changed, you may want to vary the restrictions of the order, or have it withdrawn.
What is an AVO?
An AVO is a court order against a person who makes you fear for your safety. The aim of the AVO is to protect you from violence, harassment, intimidation or contact.
You can make the application yourself, or the police can make the application on your behalf.
If you have been violently injured by your partner and reported it to police, for example, a police officer will generally lay a criminal charge against that person and will also apply to court for an AVO on your behalf.
The AVO will impose a set of prohibitions or restrictions on the behaviour of the defendant necessary to ensure your safety and protection.
The AVO will have standard conditions that prohibit the defendant from assaulting, molesting, harassing, threatening, intimidating or stalking you.
There may be other conditions personal to your case that can be included in the order, such as the defendant being prohibited or restricted from approaching you, any premises occupied by you, or any other specified premises such as your place of work.
Sometimes lawyers, and if applicable the police, try to work out a set of conditions the parties can agree on so the final AVO can be issued by consent and without admissions without the need for a hearing.
If the AVO is contested, there will be a court hearing where evidence will be heard by all parties in support or in defence of the final AVO.
Prior to that date, the court or a police officer can issue a provisional or interim AVO.
If the defendant breaches any conditions, they can be arrested, charged and face a penalty of imprisonment.
Final AVOs have an expiry date of 12 months, or a date set by the court.
So perhaps you are in a situation where the court has issued an AVO and your circumstances have now changed.
Maybe you no longer fear for your safety, or perhaps you need to change the restrictions governing where the defendant can approach you because your address or place of work has changed.
Can you vary or change the AVO? The answer in many cases is, Yes.
If the AVO is an interim AVO or provisional AVO, you need only ask that the court registry re-list the matter in court, or wait until the next court date.
If are applying to have the order withdrawn, the court will need to be shown evidence of the change in the nature of your relationship and the reasons why you no longer fear for your safety.
The court can vary any restriction necessary.
If the AVO is a final AVO either issued by consent of the parties or after a hearing, then you will need to file a fresh application to the court for the revocation of the order.
This involves a new hearing before the court where you as the applicant have to show good reasons why the AVO can be varied or revoked without compromising your safety.
The court will closely examine the change in circumstances before making a decision on your application, including looking to see if there were any breaches of the AVO, and if the conditions were complied with.
Can the defendant apply to vary or withdraw the AVO?
A defendant can also apply to vary the conditions of the AVO, or have it withdrawn. The court will consider varying the AVO or revoking it entirely if the defendant provides strong reasons why it should do so.
It is important to note however that this is a far harder task for an interim or provisional AVO, or if the final AVO has not expired, unless the defendant has your consent as the protected person.
Even if an AVO has expired, it remains on a defendant’s police record.
This can have unintended consequences.
For example, anyone who has been subject to an AVO in the previous 10 years cannot have a firearms licence, unless the order has been revoked.
Therefore in some instances, it may be important for the defendant of an AVO to apply to the court to have it revoked.
The fact of its expiry and evidence of no further violent contact with the applicant are strong grounds in support of its withdrawal.
If you have taken out an AVO against someone, and the circumstances have changed and you want to withdraw the order or change the conditions, or the defendant is applying to withdraw or vary the order, it’s a good idea to speak to a lawyer experienced in AVO matters.