Do you have an AVO in place against you?
If your answer is ‘yes’, it is critical to understand your obligations to avoid contravening the order.
Having an AVO is not a criminal offence. As such, the AVO itself is not listed on your criminal record.
Any type of breaching an AVO, however, is a criminal offence that can carry a maximum 2-year imprisonment or maximum fine of $5,500. (section 14(1) of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007)
Nature of breach and its significance
Upon breaching an AVO, you might be arrested by the police or served with a Court Attendance Notice (CAN). The CAN sets out the date and location of your court attendance. As a breach of an AVO is a summary offence, it will be heard in the Local Court.
What is more important is, among other things, the nature of the breach. Depending on the nature, the penalty varies as below.
- Dismissal of the charge without recording a conviction if you plead guilty or if you are found guilty of an offence
- Monetary fine less than $5,500.
- Good behaviour bond
- Community service order
- Suspended sentence
- Home detention
- A term of imprisonment less than 2 years.
For example, if you approach the protected person’s house, you might be ordered to pay the fine without imprisonment.
However, if the contravention constitutes an act of violence, the court must sentence a term of imprisonment unless the court otherwise orders with reason to do so. ((section 14(4) & 14(6) of the Act). It should be noted that the act of violence does not necessarily mean a physical violence. It can include verbal threat, stalking or harassing phone calls.
Further, you can also be separately charged with the act of violence in addition to the breach of AVO.
Breach of AVO can have a significant impact on your life. According to the NSW Bureau of Crime, Statistics and Research, 12% of offenders ended up in imprisonment with an average sentence of around 4 months.
An effort to avoid a term of imprisonment for a violent contravention requires a detail examination of the contravention. Only then, a professional criminal lawyer might be able to provide the reasons with a court to depart from mandatory imprisonment sentence. If you have an AVO order in place and have breached it, you should contact us immediately to obtain independent legal advice. As a Criminal Law specialist, Greenfield Lawyers can provide expert advice to minimise your risk of obtaining a serious criminal sanction.