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  • Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) and Police Checks

    Many people who have had an AVO or restriction order in the past usually get confused as to whether or not these orders show in their police check results. The truth is that it depends on the sensitivity of the role or what transpired during the AVO period.

    While you should stay out or argue assiduously against any Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) charge, if it is given, an AVO stays out of your criminal records and is not disclosed in a national police check unless you breach the conditions of an AVO.

    What is an Apprehended Violence Order?

    The court under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (in NSW) can impose an AVO order to protect the applicant if they conclude a reason of fear, apprehension, or imminent violence against them.

    When the court imposes an AVO order against the defendant, the defendant must abide by all the conditions. If the defendant breaches or partakes in any action that contravenes the order, they will face stiff penalties and be charged for the offense.

    Who can apply for an Apprehended Violence Order?

    Although the States and Territories in Australia adopt the AVO legislation, it usually comes under a different name in various States and Territories.

    Any person that feels threatened by an organization, party, or action can apply for an AVO. The person who seeks protection can complete the application through the Police or by applying directly to the court.

    The Police authorities are allowed by the law to make applications for people who need protection, especially in cases of severe needs. Also, an application can be made on behalf of a person without their consent where the Police deem necessary.

    The Police also have the authority to issue immediate Interim Intervention Orders in "urgent" cases.

    AVO application for children less than 14 years is done with a rep/guardian/parent. Children may apply for an AVO application where they fear abuse or are being abused.

    What other name is an AVO called or referred to as?

    • It is known as an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) in general and in New South wales (NSW)
    • In Victoria and South Australia it is called an intervention order
    • In Queensland, it is known as a Domestic Violence Protection order
    • In Western Australia, it is called a Restraining Order
    • In Tasmania, it is called a Family Violence Order
    • In the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, it is called a Domestic Violence Order.

    What cases constitute the court to impose an AVO order?

    One of the reasons an AVO order may not appear on a police check is that the "accusation" is based on potential actions or apprehensions. It means the offence is not committed yet, but there is a potential for the defendant to carry out the offence.

    Under ss17 and 20 f the Act, the court will impose an AVO order to a party if;

    • The court rules that the person has reasonable grounds to fear or in fact fears;
    • The commission by the other person of a personal violence offence against the person
    • The engagement of the other person in conduct in which the other person;
    • Intimidates the person,
    • Stalks the person,
    • The person reported engages in an act the court deems should necessitate an AVO.

    What does a Police Check show?

    The police check result is a document of character and legal history of an individual, usually suited for a purpose. It contains the details of all the releasable court outcomes (DCOs) of the individual per State laws.

    Since police checks are a nationwide document, it matters little where the individual has obtained the document. Even for some AVO or Intervention orders, the conditions of the order may remain valid outside the state.

    The types of convictions that get released in a Police Check are;

    • Charges for offences in corporate organizations
    • Sexually related offences
    • Traffic charges for which an individual is convicted
    • Sentences and Convictions
    • Pending court charges and offences

    However, since an AVO order is not a criminal offence, it does not show up as part of the DCO. However, it may be released as part of the "offences" for other kinds of criminal record checks.

    Can an AVO order become a Criminal Offence?

    When a person (needing protection) applies to the court, they;

    • Issue a summons to the defendant (accused)
    • Set a date for the hearing
    • Consider all evidence of the accusation per the Australian laws.

    However, if the defendant fails to appear in court, the court will issue the order in their absence. And if the defendant flouts/breaches any of the conditions, they will be guilty of a breach.

    If the court finds you guilty of breaching an AVO order, it becomes a criminal offence. The penalties can go up to fines and terms of imprisonment.

    Ultimately, all criminal offences are disclosed in police check results in accordance with spent convictions legislation which will then include the details of the breach or Order.

    Does the AVO order give similar restrictions as a “failed” Police Check result?

    Some organisations may refuse you the role you applied for due to certain offences in their criminal history check result. Having certain conditions can highly limit your choices at paid or even volunteer employment.

    It may also prevent you from travelling for a certain period or to some regions.

    It may prevent you from getting a firearms license or entering some places

    Having an AVO order against you brings similar restrictions. Depending on the circumstances and the conditions the court imposed, you may be unable to

    • The court may prevent you from owning a firearms license if you got an AVO within the last 10 years; Under ss11 (5) (c) of the Firearms license;
    • You will be unable to get a security license. It is guided by the r18 Security Industry Regulations Act of 2007; for a proven offence of stalking or intimidation.
    • The AVO order may also prevent you from leaving the region or state where the order is issued.
    • You will have to report to your parole officer in regular intervals if the court assigns you one.

    How long does an AVO Order last?

    Depending on the State’s legislation, the order may last anywhere between 12 months and for life (till the court concludes the applicant is safe).

    However, an applicant may apply to have their conditions adjusted or altered if certain conditions change that makes it impossible to do them.

    Similarly, a police check result is valid from the time of issue to any other time you need it. However, since it is a point-in-time check, most organisations do not accept Police Checks older than 3 months.

    The convictions in a criminal history check may also change depending on the spent convictions scheme in the State or Territory and time elapsed on the conviction.

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