Breach of AVO Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs)
1. Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) are court orders aimed at preventing further acts of violence. Breaching these orders may attract criminal sanctions including a fine, term of imprisonment or both. It is therefore imperative that all interested parties understand the legal rights and obligations arising from an AVO.
George Sten & Co are one of Sydney’s leading Criminal Lawyers. Our experienced criminal lawyers practice exclusively in crime. If you are in need of an Apprehended Violence Order, or your have been served with an AVO and need to defend it, you will need an experienced criminal law firm to defend you.
2. Consequences of Breach of AVOs
AVOs are governed by the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW) (“the act”). Sections 4 and 14 indicate that an attempt to breach an AVO or a breach of an AVO may have criminal consequences. These may include a maximum fine of $5,500 and/or imprisonment for 2 years.
Sections 14(2) and 14(3) of the act stipulate that breaching an AVO does not carry criminal consequences if:
- You were not provided with a copy of the order if you did not attend court when the order was made; and
- The breach was necessary to attend mediation or was in compliance with a property recovery order.
The act indicates that terms of imprisonment should be ordered in certain circumstances. Sections 14(4) – 14(6) of the act state that if a contravention involves an act of violence the accused must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment unless the court otherwise orders or the accused is under 18 years old. If a court elects not to sentence an accused to imprisonment they must provide reasons for doing so. In effect a court is guided to sentence an accused to imprisonment where an act of violence has occurred.
It is important to distinguish between violent contraventions and other contraventions. Where you contravene an AVO by approaching the protected person’s house or their person it is a criminal offence which may involve a fine without imprisonment. If the conduct involves an act such as a verbal threat, harassing phone calls or stalking you are likely to face a term of imprisonment and/or a fine.
It should be noted that an act of violence is not limited to physical violence and can include intimidation and stalking. Please refer to our AVO information sheet for further guidance as to conduct which may be construed as violence.
The New South Wales Bureau of Crime, Statistics and Research (NSWBCSR) have released statistics regarding the sanctions for AVO breaches. According to the NSWBCSR:
- Approximately 38% of AVO breaches have resulted in a good behaviour bonds generally between 14 – 16 months;
- Around 17.8% of AVO breaches have resulted in fines with an average fine of $432; and
- Approximately 12.4% of offenders have been sentenced to imprisonment with an average sentence of around 4 months.
Above are the three most common penalties for breaches of an AVO. Given that over 1 in 10 offenders face jail time it is important to obtain the best legal representation when faced with an AVO breach. At George, Sten and Co Criminal Defence Lawyers we specialise in AVO matters and are able to portray you in the best possible light. This may avoid imprisonment or minimise the time spent incarcerated.
Other less common penalties for breaching an AVO include:
- Home detention;
- Intensive correction order;
- Suspended sentence;
- Community service order;
- Recorded conviction without a penalty; and
- No recording of a conviction.
The above data may be viewed in the article “Persons convicted of breaching Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders: their characteristics and penalties” by NSWBCSR dated January 2015.
Breaches of AVOs may carry serious criminal sanctions. For these reasons if you have not committed an act of violence it is important to contest the order. If you have an order in place it is vital you obtain independent legal advice to understand your obligations and avoid contravening the order. If you have breached an AVO you should contact us immediately to obtain legal advice aimed at minimising your risk of obtaining a serious criminal sanction. At George Sten & Co Criminal Defence Lawyers we are able to provide expert advice as to your legal rights and obligations with respect to AVOs.