Criminal Law

Contravene AVO

Although being subjected to an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is not a criminal offence or criminal conviction, being charged with "contravene AVO" is considered serious and the penalties can be severe. When someone accepts a Final AVO (or an AVO is made against them) they need to be aware that strict adherence to the conditions is important, at all times. The police take a very hard-lined approach to allegations of AVO breaches and the penalties imposed by the Courts reflect the seriousness of the offence.

The Law

Pursuant to section 14 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act, if a person knowingly contravenes any condition of an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO), then they are guilty of an offence.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for breaching or contravening an AVO is 2 years' imprisonment and/or a $5,500 fine.

Commentary

The most common breaches of Apprehended Violence Orders occur with Domestic AVOs. Any breach of a condition, no matter how slight, will be enough to be charged with the offence. Therefore, if a condition of the AVO does not allow the defendant to contact the person in need of protection (PINOP) by any means, calling out "hello" to the PINOP in the street or sending a text message irrespective of the content of the message or the intention behind it, will be enough to breach a condition and therefore, contravene the AVO. In fact, even making contact through a third party is enough to breach the condition.

Although there are different levels of offending conduct when an AVO is contravened, the law states that if the contravention is by way of an act of violence, (such as any assault offence), then the offender must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, unless the Court otherwise orders. This essentially means that the starting point for a contravention by an act of violence is imprisonment. 

The most common forms of contraventions are usually by harassment or, where there is a "not to contact" condition, by simple means of contact. It must be remembered that even if the contact is invited by the PINOP and then contact is in fact made, then the person is in breach of the condition and in contravention of the AVO and can (and almost always will be) charged with an offence (should it be brought to the attention of police).  All too often we see defendants being set up by ex-partners to breach "no contact" conditions. Although AVOs are supposed to be a "shield" to those who genuinely rely on them for protection, they are unfortunately too often abused and used as "weapons". 

If you have been charged with contravene or breach of Apprehended Violence Order (AVO), our experts at Prime Lawyers - Criminal Law Division can help. Contact us to make an appointment with a criminal lawyer at your nearest Prime Lawyers office.

We have offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.    

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