How do intervention orders work in 2023?
Intervention Orders are intended to protect vulnerable people from violence. They are court orders that restrain an individual from being in the vicinity of another specified person(s).
“Intervention Order” is the term used in the State of Victoria. Other Australian states and territories refer to them as Restraining Orders, AVOs, Family Violence Orders, or Domestic Violence Orders.
An intervention order, also previously known as a restraining order, can have a large impact upon you and your family for a long period of time. As these orders are serious, it is important to understand what they do, how they can be used to protect your family, and what to do if you have been served one.
What is an intervention order?
An intervention order is a legally binding order that normally concerns issues regarding the health and wellbeing of you or your family. In most circumstances, it will involve creating restrictions between a defendant and a ‘protected person’.
This protected person can include children and any other person the court reasonably believes may come to harm if the intervention order is not invoked. Children can be included without the need for a separate application.
An intervention order may include restricting the defendant’s movements and preventing them from seeing or being in the same vicinity as the protected person. Other protections that an intervention order can give someone include:
- Restricting the defendant’s access to particular locations that the protected person may frequent (such as their home, place of work, or place of schooling).
- Prohibit the defendant from communicating to the protected person, whether this be directly (e.g. through a phone or email) or indirectly (e.g. through a third party).
In most cases, an intervention order will accompany a criminal charge (for example, an assault against a family member). However, they can also be given by police without any criminal charge.
How do I apply for an intervention order?
As stated before, whilst intervention orders can be given by police accompanying a charge, this also may not be the case. Police can give you an interim (temporary) order which can provide you and your family with immediate protection whilst the matter is heard and dealt with.
You can apply privately to the court for an intervention order, and this can be done without police involvement. It is important to know that there are many reasons why you can ask for an intervention order, and these are not limited to matters concerning a romantic relationship.
The court will make the order if it reasonably believes that without the intervention order, the defendant will commit an act of abuse against the protected person. It is also important to note that abuse encompasses:
- Emotional/psychological harm
- Physical harm
- Harm to one’s property
- Unreasonable financial restrictions
The matter will be heard in trial and will give an opportunity for the defendant to either accept, negotiate or dispute the matter. The court will hear all evidence from the protected person, any witnesses, and the defendant.
After the magistrate or judge has heard all the evidence, they can decide whether a Final Intervention Order is given.
What do I do if I have been served an intervention order?
After a court hears the matter, believes that the intervention order is needed, and that it is reasonable and fair in all the circumstances of the case, it will make the order. Even in its interim stage, an intervention order is valid and must be followed.
You may wish to secure legal representation in the event that you are served an intervention order. Even if you decide not to contest the order, it can be beneficial to you to have your lawyer negotiate the terms of the order.
Once an order is made, it will remain valid until an application is taken to have it removed. An application can be lodged by the defendant after a minimum of 12 months.
What happens if an intervention order is breached?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, breaching an intervention order can cause severe consequences, including jail time and large fines. Whilst an intervention order itself is not a criminal charge, you may be charged if you breach it.
Notably, a defendant cannot breach an order even if they receive permission or consent from the protected person. If you believe that you may have breached an order, it may be worthwhile to consult a legal professional about your options.
If you need any assistance regarding intervention orders and how they may affect your family, please feel free to reach us via the contact form.
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