Communicating with a Protected Person: Navigating the Limits of AVOs

Introduction

When it comes to Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs), understanding the boundaries of communication is crucial. AVOs are legal orders designed to protect individuals who fear violence, harassment, or intimidation. This article aims to shed light on the basics of AVOs, the communication restrictions they impose, and provide guidance on navigating these limits to ensure compliance with the law.

The Basics of AVOs

In New South Wales, AVOs are obtained through an application in the Local Court initiated by NSW Police or the person seeking protection, known as the protected person. The Court will either make the Order by consent, or after a defended hearing. The Court assesses the evidence presented and determines whether to issue an AVO. These orders are intended to prevent further harm by imposing certain restrictions on the person against whom the order is made, referred to as the defendant.

We would strongly advise you to contact our Criminal Lawyers at Maguire & McInerney Lawyers as soon as possible after you receive the Application for the AVO and before you consent to a Final Order. Consenting to a Final AVO may have serious implications for Family Law Court proceedings, your employment and restrain you from communication and attending specific premises.

In New South Wales, there are two types of AVOs:

  • ADVO (Apprehended Domestic Violence Order) – which refers to situations where a domestic relationship exists between the parties, such as a family relationship or marriage, and
  • APVO (Apprehended Personal Violence Order) – which refers to the protection of a person or people who do not have a domestic relationship, such as colleagues, neighbours or casual acquaintances.

A person aged 16 or over can apply for an AVO in situations where they are currently, or previously have been, a victim of another person’s dangerous behaviour and have reason to believe that it will continue. This can include behaviour such as (but not limited to) physical assault, threats of physical harm, stalking, intimidation or harassment. In situations where the victim is unable or unwilling to apply on their own, a police officer can apply on behalf of a victim.

Communication Restrictions in AVOs

One of the most significant aspects of AVOs is the communication restrictions they impose. These restrictions can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the court’s decision. In some cases, the order may include a complete ban on any form of communication between the defendant and the protected person. This means that direct contact of any sort, including in-person conversations, phone calls, emails, text messages, social media interactions, and communication through third parties are strictly prohibited.

Where you are subject to an AVO with communication restrictions, any communication with the other party (or their legal representatives) for the purposes of recovering property, or seeking family law parenting arrangements or a property settlement, should be carried out by experienced Criminal and Family Lawyers.

However, it’s important to note that not all AVOs impose a complete communication ban. In certain situations, limited forms of communication may be allowed, such as communicating through a lawyer or engaging in necessary communication related to children or property matters. Additionally, third-party communication, where another person acts as an intermediary, might be permitted.

Understanding the Specifics of Your AVO

While each AVO is specific to the individual case, New South Wales has a mandatory condition common across all AVOs:

 The defendant must not do any of the following to , or anyone <she/he/they> <has/have> a domestic relationship with:

  1. A) assault or threaten <her/him/them>,
  2. B) stalk, harass or intimidate <her/him/them>, and
  3. C) deliberately or recklessly destroy or damage anything that belongs to .

SOURCE: https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/crime/domestic_and_family_violence/apprehended_violence_orders_avo 

To effectively navigate the limits of an AVO, it is crucial to thoroughly review the terms of the order. Seeking legal advice from a professional experienced in AVO matters, such as the Maguire & McInerney Family and Criminal Law teams, is highly recommended. Our lawyers can help interpret the order’s specifics and provide guidance on what forms of communication are permissible under the given circumstances. This is particularly important where you have both a family law parenting dispute and you are responding to an AVO.

It is important to note that breaching an AVO carries a maximum penalty of two (2) years imprisonment.

Navigating Communication Limits in AVOs

If you are issued with or apply for an AVO, it is essential to familiarise yourself with the specific limitations outlined in the order and strictly adhere to them.

If the communication restrictions imposed are impractical for those involved, or create undue hardship, seeking a variation of the order may be an option. This involves making an application to the court to modify or remove certain restrictions, taking into account the circumstances and any changes that may have occurred since the order was issued.

Regardless of the challenges posed by the communication limits, it is crucial to follow the rules set forth by the AVO. Demonstrating respect for the order not only ensures legal compliance but also shows a willingness to prioritise the well-being and safety of all parties involved.

Conclusion

Navigating the limits of communication in Apprehended Violence Orders requires a clear understanding of the order’s terms and a commitment to strict compliance. Whether facing a complete communication ban or limited forms of communication, it is essential to seek legal advice and fully comprehend the restrictions imposed. By adhering to the rules, seeking appropriate variations when necessary, and prioritising the safety and well-being of all parties involved, individuals can effectively navigate the complexities of AVOs while ensuring legal compliance.

Important Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of general nature only and is based on the law as of the date of publication. It is not, nor is intended to be legal advice. If you wish to take any action based on the content of this publication we recommend that you seek professional advice.