In NSW, contravening an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is a serious offence that carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for two (2) years and/or a fine of 50 penalty units. In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:
- Prison sentence
- Home Detention
- Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention)
- Suspended sentence
- Community service order (CSO)
- Good behaviour bond
- Section 10
The Offence Of “Contravene Apprehended Violence Order”
The offence of ‘Contravene Apprehended Violence Order’ is set out in section 14(1), Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007, which states: “A person who knowingly contravenes a prohibition or restriction specified in an apprehended domestic violence order made against the person is guilty of the offence.”
It is also relevant to look at subsection (9) of that section which addresses attempts to commit the offence. This subsection states: “A person who attempts to commit an offence against subsection (1) is guilty of an offence against that subsection and is punishable as if the offence attempted had been committed.”
What Actions Might Constitute “Contravene Apprehended Violence Order”?
Each AVO must include a prohibition on: stalking; harassing; threatening; intimidating; or damaging the property of, the Protected Person or a person with whom they have a domestic relationship. Examples of this behaviour include:-
- Persistent contact through phone calls, text messages, or social media;
- Threatening statements to the Protected Person;
- Showing up at places where the Protected Person lives, works or otherwise attends regularly;
- Damaging property belonging to the Protected Person or a person to whom they have a domestic relationship, even if they were not present at the time the damage was done;
- Or attempting to do any of the above.
Further to the mandatory orders, each AVO is tailored to the Person in Need of Protection and the Defendant and their personal circumstances. As such, to determine the prohibitions in place against you, you should review the Apprehended Violence Order documents carefully.
Common prohibitions available for an AVO are:-
- Not to reside with the Protected Person.
- Not to approach within a certain distance of the Protected Person’s home, work or other specified place. For example, this may include family member’s homes or children’s schools;
- Not to contact the Protected Person at all; and
- Not to approach the Protected person for 24 hours are consuming alcohol or drugs;
What the Police Must Prove:
To convict you of “Contravene Apprehended Violence Order” the Police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you:-
- Were prohibited to act in a certain way under an Apprehended Violence Order; and
- Contravened that prohibition; and
- Did so knowing the prohibition was in place.
Possible Defences to Contravene Apprehended Violence Order:
Under section 14(3) of the Act, it is a defence to the charge if the contravention of the AVO occurred in circumstances in which:-
- It was necessary to attend mediation; or
- It complied with the terms of a property recovery order made by a Magistrate.
Furthermore, it is a defence to the section if you are able to show that you were not served a copy of the AVO, and where the AVO was made in Court, you were not present in Court.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
This offence is a summary offence. This means that the matter must be finalised in the Local Court.
What Are the Likely Penalties for Contravene Avo?
Under section 14(4) of the Act, if you contravene an AVO with an act of violence, and are over 18, you must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment unless a court orders otherwise.
If a Court determines not to impose a period of imprisonment they must give its reasons for making that decision.
Types of penalties:
Home Detention: Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.
This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.
Community service order (CSO):
This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.
Good behaviour bond:
This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.
Avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.
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.