An AVO is a court-issued document that is intended to protect a potential victim from harassment, violence or intimidation.
If an AVO is issued against you, it sets out strict rules governing how close you can come to the alleged person in need of protection (PINOP) and whether you are able to contact them by phone, electronic means or mail.
AVOs can be taken out privately by the PINOP, or in many cases they are taken out by the police on behalf of an alleged victim.
This is common in situations where domestic violence is suspected, and police have the authority to take out an AVO even in circumstances where the alleged victim doesn’t believe it is necessary and doesn’t want to proceed with the AVO.
If you are served with an AVO, you will be given the option of either accepting the terms of the AVO (this doesn’t constitute an admission of any allegations contained within the AVO) or disputing them.
It is a good idea to consider the likely impact that the terms of an AVO will have on your lifestyle and future employment before accepting the conditions. Having an AVO against you, particularly if the alleged PINOP is your spouse or partner, may mean that you have to move house and you may be restricted in access to any children you have.
Lifting an AVO in NSW can be difficult even in situations where neither party agrees with the AVO, or wants it to continue.
Here are some things you can do to help have an AVO against you lifted.
Under what circumstances can an AVO be revoked?
It can be hard to get an AVO lifted, but there are a few circumstances where the NSW police may consider it.
These include situations where police took out the AVO after a suspected domestic violence incident, but there is no evidence to suggest that domestic violence actually took place, and the alleged victim did not made a statement.
It can also be possible to get an AVO lifted in cases where the alleged victim is proven to have been deceiving police when requesting the AVO. If you can prove that an AVO taken out against you is ‘frivolous or vexatious’ the magistrate may agree to lift it.
When you are first given an AVO, you will be given an interim or short term AVO. This is a temporary AVO, which is in place while the court decides whether or not to grant a full AVO. If you have been served with an interim AVO, you will need to decide whether to accept the terms, or challenge them and request that the AVO be lifted.
If you can provide evidence to demonstrate that the alleged victim is not at risk of harassment or violence, or that they are lying, you may be successful in having the AVO lifted.
If you aren’t sure what to do you can speak to a lawyer who will advise you on your options, and recommend the best course of action.
How can I get an AVO lifted?
If you choose to challenge an AVO, the matter will proceed to a defended hearing before a magistrate in the local court.
You will be asked to provide evidence to support your request to have the AVO lifted.
The person taking out the AVO will also supply any evidence they have to support their AVO application, and a magistrate or judge will make a final decision on whether or not to grant the AVO.
Evidence that is admissible includes witness testimony and certain types of documentary evidence you can provide to show that the alleged victim is not telling the truth and misleading the court.
AVO cases can be difficult to win because they often depend on one person’s word over another’s, so it is a good idea to seek the advice of a criminal lawyer who is experienced in AVO matters and can advise you and help you present a strong case.
It is possible to have an AVO lifted, particularly in cases where domestic violence isn’t an issue, such as disputes between neighbours or family members who aren’t spouses or partners.
NSW police tend to take a strong stand in cases of alleged domestic violence, and it can be difficult to have a domestic violence-related AVO lifted.
Some things that may help include if you are able to show that you and your spouse have reconciled and the alleged victim no longer feels they have any reason to fear harassment or violence, or if you can provide proof that the other party deliberately misled the court or police out of malice or other motives.
If the alleged PINOP hasn’t made any statement against you and wishes the AVO to be revoked, this may be helpful although even in those circumstances police may still decide to uphold the AVO.
If either party wasn’t present when the AVO was made, it is possible in some circumstances to appeal and this may result in the AVO being lifted.
It’s important to be aware that although an AVO doesn’t constitute a criminal charge or conviction, breaching an AVO is a criminal offence, and is likely to lead to further penalties.
If you have been served with an AVO it’s important that you abide by the terms until you are able to have the AVO lifted or you could find yourself facing a criminal conviction and potential imprisonment.