This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Family Violence


Family violence can occur between partners, ex-partners, parents and children, siblings or between other parties who are living together or who are in a family relationship. Family violence can consist of physical violence or sexual violence. It can also consist of subtler forms of abuse, such as economic, emotional or psychological abuse or coercive control.

When family violence occurs, criminal charges will often be laid. It is also common for the police or the victim to apply for a Family Violence Order. A Family Violence Order (FVO) is a court order that restricts the defendant from doing certain things, such as contacting their victim or harassing or abusing their victim. The court will make an FVO if it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so to ensure the safety of the person, the safety of their child or in order to protect property.

Family violence may also result in a claim for Victims of Crime Financial Assistance and in parenting proceedings.  

Any criminal matter that is stamped FV (for family violence) goes on a separate track on its way through the courts in the ACT. These matters, generally involving allegations of assault and property damage, go into a separate list in the Magistrates Court (which is even formally defined as the Family Violence Court for such proceedings).

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has a public policy of pursuing these matters more vigorously and thoroughly than other criminal matters. This means that representations to have such matters dropped face a higher threshold. The DPP often continues prosecutions in FV matters even after the complainant has asked that charges be dropped.

Sentencing for FV matters is generally harsher than for similar matters not involving specially defined people.

That definition is very broad, including a domestic partner or former domestic partner; a relative; a child of a domestic partner or former domestic partner; a parent of a child of the original person; and someone who is or has been in a “relevant relationship” with the original person. A relevant relationship is defined as “an intimate relationship between two people other than a domestic partnership”.

As well as criminal charges being brought under the FV stamp, the ACT also has in place a comprehensive protection order system.

Protection Order Overview

The Family Violence Act 2016 lists the various types of orders that can be made.

The following articles deal with the issues faced by those who want to have an order made protecting them or those seeking the best way to respond when an order has been made against them.

There are many routes that such matters can take and it is advisable to consult a lawyer who specializes in criminal law and protection orders.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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