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A Guide to AVO Proceedings in NSW

You may be in a domestic or personal

relationship where you fear for your

safety or the safety of your children.

This fear may be based on violence you

have already endured or violence that

you sincerely believe you need

protection from. Obtaining an apprehended

violence order 'AVO' from the court is one

means of protecting yourself.

An AVO is an order from the court

against another person, the defendant, who

makes you fear for your safety. The

purpose of an AVO is to protect you from

further violence, harassment, intimidation,

or contact from the defendant. Under the

order the court imposes a set of

prohibitions or restrictions on the

behaviour of the defendant necessary to

ensure your safety and protection. The

conditions in every AVO prohibit the

defendant from assaulting, molesting,

harassing, threatening, intimidating, or

stalking you. You can also seek

additional restrictions against the

defendant that are relevant to your case,

such as prohibiting them from being

within a certain distance of your home

or work, or prohibiting them from any

contact with you, or your children within

12 hours after being intoxicated.

AVO proceedings in New South Wales are

meant to be easily accessible and simple

so that you can get a private AVO

relatively quickly to protect you as

soon as practicable. You can obtain an

AVO privately, or the police can make the

application on your behalf. If you've

been violently injured by the defendant

and reported it to the police typically

the police apply to court for an AVO on

your behalf. If you wish to privately

obtain an AVO visit your local court

registry and obtain an application form

to commence AVO proceedings in New South

Wales. Alternatively a criminal lawyer

will be able to help you to fill out the

application form and file it in court.

You will need to set out in the

application form your reasons for

wanting an AVO, and what conditions or

restrictions you seek. Once filed at the

local court registry a first court date

is set for your AVO proceeding. If you

visit a police station the police will

arrange to serve the application on the

defendant so that they are notified of

the matter, you should arrange service as

soon as practicable. You can attend court

yourself for the hearing of the AVO

application, but it's advisable to have

an experienced lawyer who is familiar

with the process and knows how to put

forward the strongest points in your case.

There are two types of a AVOs you can

seek; an apprehended domestic violence

order ADVO, or an apprehended personal

violence order APVO.

An ADVO is

against a defendant with whom you are

having a domestic relationship. This

order doesn't just cover an intimate

relationship, such as marriage or a de

facto relationship, it includes any other

domestic relationships, such as a

flatmate, carer, or someone in an extended

kinship relationship in indigenous

culture. An APVO is for a defendant you

don't have a domestic relationship with,

such as a neighbor or work colleague.

Before the main hearing there will be

several listing dates in court, which are

administrative matters to keep your

proceedings on track and ready for the

main hearing. When you first appear

before the magistrate, if you feel you

need protection right away, you can ask

for an interim AVO, this is a temporary

AVO that is in place up until the AVO

hearing. At the AVO hearing you will need

to provide evidence of why you need the

order. It is essential you prepare for

the hearing. Think about all the

particular incidents that happened that

caused you to fear for you or your

children's safety. It is important to

remember when they occurred and to try

and recall every detail. Reasons for

fearing future violence can include the

past incidents, any threats, incidents, or

stalking, or perhaps the defendant moved

to a property closer to you and this

alone makes you fear for your safety. You

can call other witnesses if available or

produce photos to support your case. This

is advisable as any evidence other than

your words adds credibility. The

defendant also has an opportunity to

give their case and to cross-examine any

of the witnesses. The court considers all

the evidence and determines whether an

AVO are to be ordered, and if so the

conditions. This is when the final AVO is

issued, it lasts such time as the court

determines or 12 months. It is also

important to note that you can vary

or withdrawal an AVO after it has been

issued. Once you obtain an AVO the

defendant must obey certain conditions,

any breach of those conditions and the

defendant faces arrest by the police and

conviction by the court. Breaching the

conditions can even result in facing a

prison sentence. For more detailed advice

about your specific situation it may be

a good idea to see a criminal lawyer who

is experienced in dealing with AVO cases.