In Australia, an AVO or Apprehended Violence Order is a legal order that serves as a protective measure for individuals who anticipate potential violence, harassment, or intimidation from someone whom they have a domestic relationship with including a spouse, partner, or family member, or someone the have a personal relationship with such as a neighbour, friend, or colleague.

There are two types of Apprehended Violence Order that can be issued by an Australian court, including:

  1. Domestic Violence Order (DVO): This type of AVO is implemented to protect individuals from acts of violence or threats originating from someone with whom they have a domestic relationship, or family members. 
  2. Personal Violence Order (PVO): This type of AVO is implemented to protect individuals from acts of violence or threats originating from someone with whom they have a personal relationship, including domestic relationship, such as a neighbour or acquaintance, extending beyond domestic ties.

What are the implications of an Apprehended Violence Order? 

In aiming to serve as a protective measure, the following are potential conditions of an Apprehended Violence Order imposed onto an individual subject to the order, along with its intended goals.

AVOs may encompass conditions prohibiting the individual subject to the order from: 
With the aim of:
Approaching or contacting the protected individualProhibiting them from having any form of contact or proximity from the protected individual 
Coming near or entering the protected person’s residence or workplaceRestricting access to places frequented by the protected person
Intimidating or harassing the protected individualPreventing any form of threatening or harassing behaviour
Possessing firearm or dangerous weaponsImposing restrictions on the possession of potentially harmful items

Violating the terms of an issued Apprehended Violence Order constitutes a criminal offence, carrying potential fines or imprisonment. A court or a police officer has the authority to issue an AVO, and the application can be initiated by the protected individual or a representative acting on their behalf. In the event of a breach of an Apprehended Violence Order, the protected person is advised to promptly contact the police.

Who is eligible to apply for an Apprehended Violence Order?

Anyone who fears a potential or proven act of violence from another person is eligible to apply for an Apprehended Violence Order. Whether the threat is explicit or implied, the Australian courts recognise the gravity associated with potential acts of violence, and an Apprehended Violence Order stands as a vital means for proactive intervention. 

Can I apply for an Apprehended Violence Order for someone else?

In certain cases, the option to seek an AVO is not confined to the immediate targets of harm. A third party who has a close personal relationship with the potential target of violence may apply for an Apprehended Violence Order on behalf of them. For example:

  • Close or distant relatives who fear for someone’s safety due to potential violence can apply for an AVO on behalf of the at-risk individual
  • Informal caregivers concerned about the safety of the person under their care can seek an AVO
  • For Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, a member of a kin, tribe, or extended family can apply for an AVO in situations of perceived threat or danger.

It is important to note that there are some key considerations that are important to a third-party AVO applicant, including the perceived threat or fear. A person applying for an Apprehended Violence Order on behalf of someone must substantiate a legitimate concern for the safety of the person at risk, which can be based on witnessed incidents or threats.

Seeking legal advice when applying for an Apprehended Violence Order can provide guidance on the specific requirements and processes in the relevant jurisdiction. 

How to defend an AVO? 

If you have been served with an AVO, there are two options: 

  1. Consent to the AVO on a “without admissions” basis. This means that the AVO will become a final order for the usual period of 2 years. 
  1. Oppose the AVO and defend it. A court will then set down a timetable which allows the Police to file and serve their evidence. You will then be given an opportunity to file and serve a response to their application. Once all evidence has been filed, the matter will then be listed for a defended hearing where parties give evidence and a Magistrate decides whether they are satisfied on the balance of probabilities that an AVO should be made on a final basis. 

It is important to note that this is not a criminal offence. AVO’s are decided on the balance of probabilities, as opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt. It is important to obtain advice from a lawyer that has experience in defending these charges.

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