An AVO is a court document that is intended to protect someone from harassment or violence from another.
AVOs are commonly taken out in situations where there is domestic abuse, but they can also be used to protect vulnerable people from family members, neighbours, friends or anyone else they have a legitimate reason to feel at risk from.
The NSW AVO process varies slightly depending on the situation and the type of AVO being taken out.
AVOs can either be taken out by the police on behalf of a person they feel may be at risk of domestic violence, or they can be taken out privately through the court.
If you want to take out a domestic violence AVO (often referred to as an ADVO) the easiest route is often to ask the police to do it on your behalf.
If you want to take out an AVO for any other reason than domestic violence, you will need to visit your local court and fill out an application notice, stating the reasons behind you wanting to take out the AVO.
Once your application has been filed, you will be given a court date for the matter to be decided.
In the interim, the defendant will be served with the AVO documents, and they will be required to turn up at court to present their defence if they wish to challenge the AVO.
At the hearing, the defendant has the option of challenging the AVO or accepting the terms. Acceptance of the AVO doesn’t mean that the defendant is admitting to any allegations made in the AVO.
If the defendant accepts the AVO, they will be required to abide by the conditions and restrictions set out in the document.
Restrictions may include agreeing to limit or cease contact with the alleged person in need of protection (PINOP), residing at a different address, or not coming within a certain distance of the PINOP and anyone else who has protection under the same order (such as the children of the PINOP).
They will also be required to hand in any firearms they possess, and will be prohibited from holding a firearms licence for 10 years after the AVO ceases.
If the defendant accepts the terms of the AVO, they will be required to abide by them for the duration of the AVO, which can be anything up to two years.
The matter will be considered finalised by the court unless there is a breach of the AVO conditions.
If the defendant decides to challenge the AVO, the process will be more complicated.
At the court appearance, another date will be set for the defendant and the applicant to present their evidence.
The matter will normally be decided at the second court date by a magistrate after reviewing both parties’ evidence.
If you want to take out a private AVO, or if you are the subject of an AVO taken out by the police or by someone you know, it is a good idea to speak to a criminal lawyer who deals with AVO cases on a regular basis.
The NSW AVO process can be complex.
An experienced criminal lawyer can represent you in court and ensure you have the best chance of success.