When a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) is breached
For violence to be characterised as ‘domestic’, it does not have to occur within your home; only within a relationship (with family or an intimate partner). It can occur when someone close to you has power and control over you. It can also take place in many forms including social, physical, sexual and emotional abuse or intimidation.
A ‘domestic violence order’ (also known as a restraining order) is issued by the police and/or Courts and is intended to prevent future domestic violence occurring. It ensures the offender demonstrates good behaviour and does not continue to commit violent or abusive acts against someone.
What is a breach of a Domestic Violence Order (DVO)?
You can be criminally charged for breaching a DVO, therefore it is important to understand what is classified as a breach and comply with the DVO conditions as outlined in the order. However, domestic violence orders are not always specific – they can also be quite a broad contract of conditions such as acting in “good behaviour” towards the aggrieved person.
Some common examples of the types of behaviour that would likely breach a DVO would include:
- physical and sexual assaults;
- text messages, emails and phone calls;
- stalking; and
- verbal abuse.
Even if the aggrieved instigates or invites the contact from the offender, if it is in breach of the order, you can still be charged and prosecuted. If you are charged with a breach offence (under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012), you will be required to attend court.
What is the penalty for a breached Domestic Violence Order (DVO)?
The penalty for a breached DVO depends on a range of different factors including:
- the nature and seriousness of the breach;
- criminal history (particularly any previous breach convictions); and
- personal circumstances and otherwise good character.
A breach of domestic violence conditions should not be treated lightly by a respondent as serious penalties can apply. The maximum penalty is three years imprisonment, or five years imprisonment if, within the last five years, you have been previously convicted of a breach of DVO.
Top tips for avoiding a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) breach
- Familiarise yourself with the domestic violence order conditions and abide by them at all times.
- If there are conditions within the DVO which expose you to an unavoidable breach, consider making an application to vary the order.
- If the aggrieved instigates contact with you and/or invites you to do something that might breach one of the conditions, do not accept the invitation or reciprocate the contact.
- Keep a diary or detailed notes about your daily movements and keep copies of relevant text messages, emails and other communications.
- Try to be accompanied by a witness when practicable if you are ever concerned about being ‘set up’ by the aggrieved.