How to get an AVO

Principal Lawyer Aaron Kernaghan says that the NSW process for AVOs can be long and complicated with many clients deciding to accept an AVO rather than defending it, only to find out too late what the consequences can be further down the track. By then it’s too late.

In NSW, people who are in need of protection from threats of harm of harresment can obtain a court order in the form of what is called an Apprehended Violence Order. There are a number of different types of those orders and the Court has very specific rules that govern how to proceed.

Always remember, every case is different and a solicitor will be able to provide you with specific advice to suit your circumstances. For more information, contact us on 1800-091-889 or (02)42440339. Call today.

Applying for an AVO through the Police

Step 1: Speak to the police

You may need an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) to protect you where:

  • someone has hurt you
  • you are scared that someone will hurt you
  • someone is intimidating, harassing, or stalking you.

To get an AVO you will need to show that you fear the defendant and that there are reasonable grounds for you to fear the defendant.

You should report any incidents to the police. If you are scared you should talk to the police as soon as possible. The police may apply for (and issue in cases of domestic violence) a Provisional AVO (an urgent order)on your behalf.

A police application may be made either:

  • by you attending a police station
  • after the police have attended an incident or taken a report of an incident.

Police can use the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) if you have difficulties understanding or speaking English. The police can also arrange an interpreter to be at court. This is a free service.

If the police do not apply for an AVO on your behalf you can make a private application. For more information, see Applying for an Apprehended Violence Order through the Local Court – Step by step guide.

Alert IconIf the protected person is a person under the age of 16, only the police can apply for an AVO on their behalf.

Step 2: Provide a statement

You should provide the police officer with as much of the following information as possible:

  • the full name of the person you want protection from (the defendant)
  • the address of the defendant
  • the date of birth, if known, or an approximate age of the defendant
  • the relationship between you and the defendant, for example neighbour or de facto spouse
  • the names of anyone else you want protected by the order, for example, other family members living with you
  • details of the incidents that are causing you fear, including the most recent incident
  • details of any doctors reports or treatment by a doctor or hospital relating to any injuries caused by the defendant
  • evidence of any damage to property (for example photos)
  • information about the defendant’s use of alcohol or drugs
  • information about the defendant’s access to firearms or other weapons
  • information about any mental health issues
  • whether any AVOs or other orders have been made in the past to protect you from the defendant.
  • the orders you think you need.

If you are asking the police to apply for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) on your behalf, you should also supply the following information:

  • how long you have been in a relationship with the defendant
  • the names and dates of birth of any children you have together or who live with you
  • whether the defendant has ever been charged or convicted of any domestic violence offence
  • whether there has been any violence or threats towards your children (if you have children)
  • whether there is a family law court case between you and the defendant
  • whether there are any orders made by the Family Court in place
  • whether the Department of Community Services (DOCS) is or has been involved
  • whether you and the defendant have any parenting arrangements for your children (if you have children).

For more information about the orders you can get and what they mean, see Mandatory and additional orders.

Alert IconAny statement you make to the police should be true. If you make a false statement you can be charged by the police. If you want to change a statement you have made you should get legal advice.

Step 3: Sign the statement

After you have given your statement you will need to sign it to show that you believe the statement contains the truth. The police should give you a copy of your signed statement.

The police can charge you for making a false or misleading statement in an AVO case. If you want to change your statement you should get legal advice.

The police should then investigate the matter. If the police believe there are reasonable grounds to apply for an AVO on your behalf they should go ahead and make the application for an AVO. After investigating, the police may also decide to charge the defendant with a criminal offence (or offences).

The police will either hand deliver or post you a copy of the AVO application.

Sample: For a sample ADVO application, see Sample application for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (31.549 kb) or text only version.

Sample: For a sample ADVO application, see Sample application for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (26.751 kb) (an application for protection where personal rather than domestic violence is happening or feared) or text only version.

Alert Icon If the police believe that a person needs urgent protection they can apply for an urgent AVO called a Provisional AVO.

Step 4: Serve the application

After the police have made the application, they must then serve it on (give it to) the defendant personally.

The police officer that serves the application for an AVO must fill out a ‘statement of service’, and send it to the Court. The statement of service states when and how the application was served, so that the court knows the defendant is aware of the application.

The police can detain defendants, or in some cases order them to go to and stay at specified locations, for the purposes of serving an AVO application on them. If they can’t serve the application personally, it is possible to get a court order to bring the application to the defendant’s attention in another way. This is called ‘substituted service’.

Alert IconYou are not protected by a Provisional AVO until it is served on the defendant. For more information, see Provisional, Interim and Final Apprehended Violence Orders.

Step 5: Go to Court

The application will tell the defendant the date and time they have to go to court. You will also need to go to court on this date.

When the police apply for an AVO on your behalf you are represented at court by a police prosecutor.

Alert Icon In ADVO matters and some Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) matters, Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS) can assist female applicants and, in some cases, female defendants, with applications and legal representation. For more information, go toWDVCAS.

Hint iconIf you have left your home because you fear the defendant and you would like to collect some of your belongings you can ask the court to make a Property Recovery Order. If you have a Property Recovery Order the defendant must let you enter the premises to remove your property. The court can also order that the police or another person may come with you so that you do not have to go there alone.

For more information, see Going to court.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information contained on this page is reproduced from the LawAccess website for NSW and relates only to NSW provisions. For advice in Victoria or Queensland, contact us immediately.

Importantly, nothing contained in the above information is legal advice and in all circumstances you should obtain fully qualified legal advice that is specifically tailored to your situation. Every case is different and a solicitor will be able to provide you with specific advice to suit your circumstances. For more information, contact us on 1800-091-889 or (02)42440339. Call today.