Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) in NSW: A Comprehensive Guide

An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) in NSW is a court-issued legal document that aims to protect a person from actual or threatened violence, harassment or intimidation.

With extensive experience dealing with cases of domestic violence, family violence or personal conflicts, our team are experts at managing and responding to AVOs for defendants and bringing personal private AVOs against individuals for those seeking protection before court.

In practice, AVOs impose restrictions and prohibitions to maintain a physical distance between the two parties involved, preventing further acts of violence or harmful behaviours from occurring.

To help you fully understand how AVOs work, let’s walk you through the types, grounds, application process and legal implications surrounding AVOs today. This is just general information only and is not intended to be personalised legal advice.

Types of Apprehended Violence Orders

There are generally two kinds of AVOs, and understanding their difference is important to enable you to take the appropriate legal measures based on your circumstances.

So, what are the main types of AVOs in NSW?

First, there’s the Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO).

An ADVO is filed when an applicant seeking protection has (or has previously had) a domestic relationship with the person proven to be a threat to their safety.

In the case of an ADVO, the two parties involved are related to each other such as a wife and husband, intimate partners, family members or people who share a common residence.

The other one is the Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).

This AVO, meanwhile, applies when there’s no domestic relationship between a person in need of protection and the individual causing the violence, threats or intimidation.

Simply put, the two parties here do not share a blood or legal relation – like co-workers, neighbours, friends or acquaintances.

Grounds for Obtaining Apprehended Violence Orders

Prior to granting an AVO, the applicant (in this case, the person in need of protection or PINOP) is required to provide substantiated and credible proof demonstrating a reasonable fear or threat to their safety or overall welfare.

The evidence may take the forms of:

  • A police report detailing a violent or threatening incident caused by the accused individual
  • Hospital or medical report that documents the injuries sustained at the hands of the person in question
  • Photographic or digital evidence depicting injuries, damages, harassment or other intimidating behaviour against the said individual

Aside from these, the applicant will also be asked to provide more information about their relationship with the defendant, which may include:

  • the nature of their relationship
  • the length of the relationship
  • description of any previous violence, coercive control, harassment or threats by the defendant
  • previous AVOs or charges for domestic violence offences (if there are any)
  • particulars concerning their children and current living arrangements
  • any ongoing legal proceedings before the family law courts

Application Process for Apprehended Violence Orders

A person who is a victim of personal violence or domestic violence and holds a genuine fear that they may be subject to continuous harassment in the future can seek an AVO in two ways:

  • Police Application

NSW Police can apply for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) or Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) on behalf of a victim or domestic violence victim.

If the police believe the said individual needs immediate protection, they can file for an urgent provisional AVO or on-the-spot AVO.

This provisional AVO will then be enforced until the first court date, safeguarding the victim while awaiting the final order to be made.

  • Private Application

An AVO or ADVO can also be applied through the registrar at the Local Court, so long as the applicant is 16 years old or above. For young persons under the age of 16 years applications may be made through their legal representative.

Here, the person in need of protect who requires AVO can leverage the expertise of a legal representative or lawyer for further guidance.

Once the application has been served to the defendant and filed with the Court, a hearing will be scheduled to give both parties a chance to present their evidence.

If the Court decides that an AVO is necessary on the balance or probabilities, the Court will set relevant terms and conditions make a final order that must be followed.

Please note, that only police are able to vary and Provisional Order if the named person(s) in need of protection is under the age of 16 years. Please to our lawyers about the relevant section 34 application that deals with this area.

Conditions of Apprehended Violence Orders

The conditions of an AVO will largely depend on the unique circumstances between the applicant and the person they are seeking protection from.

While the details may vary, mandatory orders in an AVO involve preventing the defendant from:

  • Assaulting or threatening the person in need of protection.
  • Stalking, harassing or intimidating the person in need of protection.
  • Deliberately or recklessly destroying or damaging any property belonging to the person in need of protection or anyone who has a domestic relationship with them.

Additional restrictions such as barring the defendant from residing in the family home, directly contacting the person in need of protection and possessing firearms or prohibited weapons can also be imposed by the Court to ensure the safety of the affected individual person in need of protection.

Breach of Apprehended Violence Orders

Even though AVOs are brought before court by application under the provisions of civil litigation, breaching them is a criminal offence.

A person found guilty of breaching an AVO can face penalties such as fines or two years of imprisonment.

Defending against Apprehended Violence Orders

Once served with an AVO, the defendant has two options:

Defending the order

  • The defendant can provide evidence in a Court hearing to demonstrate that they did not threaten and are not a threat to the safety of the applicant. With this, they must prove that implementing an AVO is no longer necessary.

Consenting to the order

  • Alternatively, the defendant can choose to consent to the terms of the AVO and abide by the current terms the police have set – which are usually in effect for a period of two years unless specified otherwise.
  • An AVO final order can be consented to on a “without admission” basis, which, in effect, is an agreement by the defendant to abide by the behavioural restrictions and conditions particularised on the AVO but does not admit to (agree with) the summary of facts to which the application was based.

There are also instances where an AVO can be dismissed.

One of these instances is when the applicant fails to comply with procedural orders to file and provide evidence on time. Additionally, negotiations between the two parties involved can pave the way for an AVO to be cancelled.

Why is it important to seek professional legal advice?

Whether you’re applying for an AVO or defending an AVO order, being embroiled in a domestic violence or family dispute matter can be confusing, overwhelming and daunting altogether.

To protect your best interests and achieve the outcomes you deserve, you need to be supported by legal experts who can answer your questions, provide tailored advice and effectively present your case in Court.

This is where our team at Daniel Wakim Law Firm can help.

As professional Criminal Law Practitioners, we offer expert legal assistance by managing and liaising with police and advising you of your rights at every step along the way. Our goal is to help you navigate your situation so that you can make the right decisions, all without being influenced purely by emotion.

Gain clarity, certainty and confidence when navigating sensitive domestic violence, family dispute and AVO matters

At Daniel Wakim Law Firm, we can advise of your rights and assist in managing your domestic violence case to help you achieve a just result.

So, whether you’re looking to have an initial chat about your own domestic violence and AVO matters, or you require ongoing support and assistance for your clients, we’re more than ready to assist you.

Just book a no-obligation, free discussion today to discuss your needs.