If you have been charged with contravening an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO), then the prosecution must establish certain elements of the offence beyond reasonable doubt. These include:
1. That you breached a condition or restriction of an AVO, such as not stalking, harassing or otherwise interfering with the protected person or contacting them, directly or through a third party, if there is a no contact clause; AND
2. That you knowingly committed the offence. That is, the breach should not have been accidental.
Even where a person has only attempted to breach a condition of an AVO, they may also still be charged with contravening that AVO – s.14(9) Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.
There are legal defences available to persons who have contravened an AVO. Does your scenario fit into a legal defence? The following are possible defences:
- You were not served a copy of the AVO – s.14(2) Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007
- You were attending court-order mediation – s.14(3) Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007
- You were attending a place or premises in compliance with a property recovery order – s.14(4) Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007
- Accident – you did not know or realise you were breaching a condition or restriction of the AVO
- Self-defence – in order to protect yourself or another person, you contravened the AVO
- Necessity – you had to contravene the AVO to prevent serious injury or danger
- Duress – you were threatened or coerced into contravening the AVO
What happens if you Are found guilty?
The maximum penalty for contravening the conditions of an AVO is 2 years’ imprisonment and/or a $5,500 fine (50 penalty units) – s.14(1) Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.
Sometimes the breach itself may seem trivial or more of a technical nature. However, the Police and courts often do not see it this way and treat any breach seriously.
If the breach of the AVO resulted in violence being committed against another person, then s.14(4) Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 provides that a court should sentence a person who is convicted of this offence to a term of imprisonment. It is for this reason that it is very important that you seek legal advice before talking to police.
Ideally you should speak to your solicitor before you speak to police – you need advice as to your rights and obligations so that you are more comfortable with the processes and understand what is happening. Only then can you make the best decisions.
YOUR NEXT STEPS WHEN YOU ARE CHARGED WITH CONTRAVENING AN AVO
1. Contact us. Early contact with Tankard’s Law is extremely important, so that you can start to take the right actions immediately. Photographing your own injuries. Having a doctor catalogue your injuries. Obtaining advice in relation to making a statement to police or not. You need early advice.
2. Gather material immediately. You should immediately type out your version of what occurred during the incident and provide this to your lawyer – details get lost in your memory over time. This step is crucial. You should find out who else might be a witness to what took place and get their details. Take photographs of the scene of the incident. Photocopy diary entries, save your text and phone messages. All of these steps should be done first.
3. Prepare. Your best chance in achieving the outcome that you want is to prepare your case properly. Let us help you.
If you have a question about the processes involved in arrest or charge, or attending court and what charges you face or need help understanding what the police are saying to you, contact us by phone on 02 6921 3220 or make a website enquiry. We will get back to you promptly.
Principal Solicitor and Director, Zac Tankard, has been helping Riverina locals charged with criminal offences since 1998. There is no one better qualified to get behind you when you need it most.