Has someone taken out an AVO against you? Or do you feel threatened and in fear of someone, and you’re considering taking out an AVO against them? Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOS) don’t constitute a criminal conviction, but they should be taken seriously as breaching the terms can lead to serious consequences.
What is an AVO?
An AVO is a court issued order taken out by one person against another. AVOs are intended to protect someone who might be vulnerable and at risk of harassment, intimidation or violence from another person. An AVO restricts the behaviour of the defendant towards the person in need of protection (PINOP), so that the defendant can’t go within a certain distance of them or their place of residence, or contact them. An AVO can also cover the PINOP’s dependants and close family members where necessary.
How do I get an AVO?
If you have a genuine reason to fear harassment, violence or intimidation from another person you can apply for an AVO privately at your local court. In certain circumstances, the police may apply for one on your behalf. This mostly happens in situations where domestic violence is suspected. In these cases, the police have the authority to apply for an AVO on your behalf, even if you don’t want one.
If you decide to take out a private AVO, you will need to speak to staff at your local court. They will help you fill out the application and give you a court date for when the matter will be dealt with. The police will then serve the defendant with the application and court appearance date. If you are successful in court, the AVO will be granted.
What should I do if I have been served with an AVO?
If you have been served with an AVO you have two options. You can either agree to the terms of the AVO, which doesn’t mean you admit to any allegations contained within it, or you can contest the AVO on your court date. If you are unsure what to do, it is best to contact a lawyer who can advise you on the consequences of having an AVO against you. You may also be served with an interim AVO before the matter is dealt with and finalised. You have to make sure you understand and abide by the terms of the order, whether interim or not, or you could end up with a criminal conviction.
Are AVOs serious enough to send someone to jail?
An AVO by itself is not a criminal conviction. If you have been served with an AVO, you will be required to surrender any firearms you have in your possession, and you won’t be able to apply for a firearms licence for 10 years after the expiry of the AVO.
Breaching the terms of an AVO is a criminal offence, however, and you could end up with a conviction and potentially a jail term if you don’t abide by the terms of the order. If you have been served with an AVO, make sure you fully understand what you are and aren’t allowed to do, and if you aren’t sure, speak to a lawyer.