Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs)

An apprehended Violence Order, or AVO, is an order made by a court that protects a person in need of protection from the following:

  • Violence
  • Harassment
  • Intimidation
  • Stalking

There are two types of AVOs: Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) which are issued where there is a domestic relationship and Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs) which are issued when there is no domestic or family relationship.

An AVO will show up on a background check conducted by employers. It could hinder one’s ability to work with children as well as the ability to carry firearms. An AVO could also carry negative consequences for those in domestic relationships, such as preventing an individual from living in the same accommodation arrangement or preventing contact with one’s children and extended family. AVOs can also bring about negative emotional strain on all parties bound to their conditions.

Provisional AVOs

An order applied for by a police officer and granted by a court or senior police officer is a Provisional Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).

When someone needs immediate protection, the police will apply for a Provisional AVO. 

It will have mandatory orders and may also have additional orders, which tell you what you can and can not do.

Police AVOs

Police can make AVOs when they are concerned about the safety or welfare of a Person In Need Of Protection (PINOP), even if the PINOP does not want an AVO to be issued. They are often given as a result of an assault or intimidation against the PINOP.

Private AVOs

There are two types of private AVOs: Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) which are issued where there is a domestic relationship, and Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs) which are issued when there is no domestic or family relationship. Private AVOs are made by the PINOP.

Difference between each type of AVO

Police and provisional AVOs are made by the police to protect a PINOP. Police AVOs can be made even when the PINOP does not want the AVO to be issued, whereas provisional AVOs generally require the approval of the PINOP. 

On the other hand, private AVOs are made by the PINOP rather than the police.

How will an AVO affect me?

An AVO will not appear on your criminal record. However, it can significantly impact your professional and personal life.

Implications of an AVO on me

A ‘background check’ conducted by employees will show any current AVOs. Your ability to work with children, as well as your ability to carry firearms can be affected.

An AVO can also negatively impact your personal life, as it can prevent you from living with the person who applied for the AVO. This can affect your ability to maintain a relationship with your children and extended family.

What is the process for an AVO?

When you are served with an AVO, the application will tell you the next Court date. 

Before you go to court, you must decide how you want to respond to the application.

On first court date, the Magistrate will ask you whether you consent to the AVO or whether you want to defend it.

You can consent to the AVO with or without admissions. If you do consent with admissions, this means that you admit truth to the facts of the AVO application. The court will consider those facts proven and will grant a final order. 

You can consent to the AVO without admissions. This means you agree to the AVO being made but are not admitting any truth to the allegations in the application.

If you do not consent to the AVO being made against you, you can request a hearing and argue against the application. In this case, the court will make a timetable to file and serve your relevant evidence. The court will make an interim order until the hearing date.

On the hearing date, the magistrate will read the statements and each party may give evidence and be cross-examined. Once the magistrate has heard all the evidence, the Court will make an order either granting or dismissing the AVO.

If either one of the parties do not turn up to the AVO hearing, the court can still hear the matter and determine whether an AVO is necessary.

The court can also adjourn the matter to be heard at a later date when both parties are present. Alternatively, they may issue a warrant for the arrest of the person who applied for the AVO or your arrest. The court can also make an ‘interim order,’ which is a temporary order until the matter can be heard at a later date.

If you do not agree with the magistrate’s decision, you can appeal the matter.

If you do not comply with the conditions of the AVO, you can be charged with a breach of the AVO.

Police requirements to prove to get an AVO

  • A court may make an AVO if it appears to the court that it is necessary or appropriate to do so in the circumstances.
  • A court may make an AVO if it is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that a person who has or has had a domestic relationship with another person has reasonable grounds to fear and in fact fears:
    • the commission by the other person of a personal violence offence against the person, or
    • the engagement of the other person in conduct in which the other person:
      • intimidates the person or a person with whom the person has a domestic relationship, or
      • stalks the person

How can I defend an AVO?

To finalise an AVO, the applicant needs to prove three things on the balance of probabilities:

  • That the PINOP has reasonable grounds to fear that the other person will stalk or intimidate them or commit a ‘violence offence’ against them
  • The conduct that is feared justifies the issuance of an AVO
  • The fear is reasonable in the circumstances

However, in some situations, it is not necessary to prove the first criteria. This condition will not need to be proved where the PINOP is:

  • Someone who has been subjected to domestic violence that is likely to recur, and the order is necessary to prevent the recurrence
  • A child under the age of 16
  • A person with below-average intelligence

The court will not grant an AVO if the applicant is unable to prove the necessary criteria on the balance of probabilities.

What if I breach an AVO?


Your matter will be dealt with by the Local Court if you breach an AVO. If you are found guilty of the charges or plead, the Magistrate has the power to impose a penalty. The penalties that could apply include:

  • Prison
  • Conditional Release Order
  • Fine
  • Community Correction Order
  • Intensive Correction Order
  • Section 10 Dismissal

The type of penalty that you will receive will depend on the facts of your case, the nature of the breach and your criminal record.

What the prosecution has to prove

To be found guilty of breaching an AVO, the prosecution must prove that:

  • You breached a condition or restriction of an AVO;
  • The breach was not accidental

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

If you raise a defence and it is accepted, you will be found ‘not guilty’ of breaching the AVO.


Some defences include:

  • Self-defence: Where you breached the AVO to protect yourself, another person or your property.
  • Duress: When you were threatened or coerced into contravening the AVO
  • Necessity: Where you needed to breach the AVO to prevent serious danger or injury
  • Where you did not realise or know that you were contravening the AVO
  • Where you were not served with an AVO, or where you were not in court when the AVO was made where you breached the AVO to attend mediation or to comply with a property recovery order

Can I appeal an AVO?

You may be able to appeal the decision to the District Court within 28 days if a Final AVO is made.

You can also file an appeal if:

  • the AVO is varied
  • the Court dismisses your application to vary or revoke the AVO.
  • a costs order is made against you