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Domestic Violence FAQs

On this page we will answer some domestic violence FAQs.

What Happens if I Consent to an AVO?

An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) can be granted if both the defendant and the protected person consent to the order being made. You can consent to the AVO without having to admit to what you are accused of.

The benefit of having orders made by consent is that there is no hearing. This reduces costs, time and the inconvenience of giving evidence.

However, it is important to carefully consider the consequences of an AVO being made. If an order is made, and you are then accused of breaching it, you could then be charged with a criminal offence. At the same time, it is important to note that an AVO is not a conviction and thus will not give you a criminal record.

My Partner Didn’t Want an AVO, so Why Did the Police Take One out against Me?

In NSW the law states that a police officer must make an application for an AVO if a domestic violence offence has recently been committed, is imminent or is likely. The police do not need the consent of a protected person to take out an AVO on their behalf and they don’t need to take their want, or lack thereof, of an AVO into account.

In November 2008 the Police published a domestic and family violence policy. It includes the following statements:

The NSW Police Force will use a proactive approach in dealing with offenders. This approach requires police to not only respond to incidents of domestic and family violence and give strongest consideration to arrest, but to develop strategies to reduce the negative behaviour of offenders who have had AVO applications consistently withdrawn.

The NSW Police Force is committed to using all lawful means to policing domestic and family violence. This includes wherever possible, removing offenders from the victim, taking out an AVO on behalf of victims and any children living or spending time with the victim (whether they are by consent or not), investigating breaches of AVOs, and developing solutions to managing repeat offenders.

My Partner Didn’t Want me Charged so Why Did the Police Charge Me?

The NSW Police Force is required to act in the public interest and charge people who are suspected of having committed an offence. The police policy is to charge alleged offenders of domestic violence where they have evidence that a domestic violence offence has occurred. This may be despite any contrary wishes of an alleged victim.

Where an alleged victim has provided a DVEC (Domestic Violence Evidence in Chief), a written statement, or even a verbal account of a crime to police, it is often the case that police will lay a charge. This often happens based on the allegation of the victim alone and does not need to be corroborated by an admission, photographs, an eyewitness or other evidence. That being said, the absence of these things may make successfully defending the matter more likely.

The police Domestic and Family Violence policy says: “The NSW Police Force encourages police to give the strongest consideration to arrest offenders of domestic and family violence. The safety, protection and wellbeing of victims are of paramount concern to police.

“The NSW Police Force enforces a pro-prosecution response to the investigation and management of domestic and family violence. Charges will be laid against offenders where evidence exists to support criminal charges.”

Will I get a Criminal Record?

The making of a final Apprehended Violence Order is not a criminal offence and a criminal conviction will not be recorded. However, the fact the order has been made will appear on the court record and will be available in the police database.

Upon any alleged breach of an AVO, the person alleged to have breached the order may be charged with a criminal offence of Contravene AVO. This may result in a criminal conviction being entered by a Magistrate sentencing a person who has pleaded guilty or been found guilty of this offence.

The maximum penalty for breaching an AVOr is a fine of $5,500 and for two years. Unless the court otherwise orders, a person convicted of breaching an AVO must be sentenced to prison if the breach was an act of violence.

What Effect Will an AVO Have on My Future?

Although you will not get a criminal record, you should be aware of the consequences of having an AVO made against you. They include:

  • Any firearms you have must be surrendered to the police. Your firearms licence or permit is automatically suspended by an interim AVO and revoked by a final AVO.
  • You cannot get a new firearms licence until 10 years after the AVO has ended.
  • The fact that an AVO was made against you will be kept on a police database.
  • An AVO can also affect your licence to work as a security officer, a police officer or other specific jobs, even though you do not get a criminal record.
  • If the AVO includes children, the Commission for Children and Young People may be notified. An AVO may affect your ability to hold a job which involves contact with children.

What is the Difference Between an APVO and an ADVO?

Although all AVOs work in the same way, they are divided into two categories:

  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs)are made when a domestic relationship exists or has previously existed between the victim and the person accused of violence.
  • Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs)are made to protect a person from another person when there is no domestic relationship and has never been a domestic relationship linking the two people, for example, neighbours or work colleagues.

What Effect will an AVO Have on My Children?

The ADVO can state that you may not approach your children. If a Parenting Order or Injunction is in place allowing you to contact your children, the ADVO may be made accordingly. However, if the children’s safety is threatened, courts have the power to amend the Parenting Order to ensure their safety.

How Long does an AVO Last?

An AVO lasts a specified period of time, e.g. two or three years. This depends on what the Magistrate considers necessary to protect the person, or the length of the AVO that the defendant consented to.

Before the period of the AVO ends, it is possible for the applicant to apply for an extension of the AVO, as long as the protected person still has a reasonable fear of the defendant.

If you require legal advice about AVOs or in any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Trudie Cameron

This article was written by Trudie Cameron

Trudie Cameron is the Practice Director of Criminal Law and is responsible for supervising and managing the New South Wales Criminal Law team in addition to her own caseload. She practices in both NSW and the ACT. Trudie is an accredited specialist in criminal law, practising exclusively in criminal and traffic law. Trudie defends clients charged with both state and...

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