Review of Infringements Under the Family Violence Scheme (Vic)
The family violence scheme is a scheme set up by Fines Victoria to allow survivors of family violence to apply to have their infringements reviewed and withdrawn if family violence substantially contributed to those infringements being incurred. This article outlines how infringements are reviewed under the Family Violence Scheme.
What is family violence?
Family Violence has a broad definition under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008. As per section 5 of the Act, family violence is defined as ‘behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person if that behaviour-
- is physically or sexually abusive; or
- is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or is economically abusive; or
- is threatening; or
- is coercive; or
- in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person.
Who is eligible for review under the Family Violence Scheme?
To be eligible to file a review under the Family Violence Scheme through Fines Victoria, you must show that you are or were a victim of family violence and that as a result of the family violence you were unable to control the offending or you were unable to nominate another driver for committing the offending (i.e. as a result of your partner’s controlling behaviour you were required to drive to points A and B and incur a number of toll fines and were not in a position to control that behaviour).
There must be a connection between the individual’s circumstances and the infringements they received.
Almost all infringements can be applied to be reviewed under the family violence scheme. There are however some which are excluded, these include:
- Court fines;
- Drink and drug driving infringements;
- Fines incurred by businesses; and
- Excessive speed infringements (excessive speed infringements are any speed where you were travelling 25 km/h or more over the speed limit).
Family Violence Scheme Review Application
In order to be successful in having your infringement withdrawn under this scheme, you must provide as much detail as possible. Your application must state:
- The period of time that you experienced family violence,
- Your relationship with the accused and the nature of the violence, and
- How that violence substantially contributed to the infringements (how you were unable to control the offending or how you were unable to nominate another driver that committed the offending.)
You must also provide a statutory declaration which describes the details of your application (i.e. the violence). You must also provide a copy of either an Intervention Order or a report (i.e. from a counsellor, social worker, psychologist). The report must include details about the relationship and how in their opinion the family violence substantially contributed to the offending. The report may be completed by:
- a medical practitioner, or
- a psychologist, or
- a family consultant or counsellor, or
- a case worker.
It is important that you provide as much information as possible to Fines Victoria in support of your review application under the family violence scheme. Fines Victoria can also request additional information as required to make a determination.
Successful and Unsuccessful applications
Although there is a criteria that must be met, Fines Victoria has discretion over the reviews and will often determine the applications on a case by case basis as long as the criteria is met.
If your application is successful, Fines Victoria will withdraw your infringements. Unlike enforcement reviews, where if you are successful, the enforcement agency (i.e. the department who issued you the fine) has the power to take you to court in relation to the infringements and prosecute the matter, under the family violence scheme, Fines Victoria not only withdraws your infringements but also directs that the enforcement agencies also withdraw the infringements so that you are not prosecuted.
If your review is unsuccessful, Fines Victoria will notify you and you will have the options of:
- Paying the fines in full; or
- Entering into a payment plan; or
- Taking any other action which may be available to you.
In rare circumstances, the Director of Fines Victoria, once they have received an application under the Family Violence Scheme, can refer the matter back to the enforcement agency (i.e. the department who issued the fines) for its consideration if they believe that the person applying for a review may benefit from the matter being heard in an open court room where they can explain their circumstances to a Magistrate.
The process of a review application under the Family Violence Scheme can be lengthy and difficult with no guarantee of success. Should you wish to discuss your options and possibility of having your infringements reviewed, please contact our office to make an appointment with one of our experienced criminal lawyers.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal.