Domestic Violence Orders (also known as Restraining Orders or Protection Orders) in Queensland seek to prevent further violence from occurring between family members or relatives. This includes parties who have an intimate relationship, a family relationship (such as parents, children and spouses), and an informal care relationship where one person is dependent on the other for daily care.
The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 is the main legislation setting out the law in relation to Protection Orders. For further details on what Protection Orders are in Queensland, read our dedicated article, Protection Orders in Queensland.
What happens if I breach a Domestic Violence Order in Queensland?
It is a criminal offence to breach a Protection Order under section 177 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012. This may lead to a criminal record.
Domestic Violence Orders in Queensland are initially a civil law order between two people. This means that having a Protection Order made against you in Queensland does not automatically result in a criminal record.
If you are charged with breaching a Protection or Domestic Violence Order, you will need to appear before a court.
You must know of the Domestic Violence Order in Queensland to breach it
It is important to note that a Domestic Violence Order only operates if you have been served with a copy of the order or you were in court when the order was made. Alternatively, the Protection Order will apply to you if you have been told by a police officer about the existence of the order.
The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 states that a police officer may inform a defendant about the existence of an order by electronic means, such as by telephone, email, text messages, or even a social networking site.
What to do if you are a protected person and the order has been breached
If you are the protected person, you should report any breaches by the defendant as soon as possible to the police. Keep notes detailing what happened, when, and where. These will assist the police with their investigation.
As a protected person, you should also try and follow the conditions set out in the Queensland Domestic Violence Order. For example, if there is a condition that the defendant does not contact you then try not contacting them via telephone or through any other electronic device. It will be more difficult for you to prove the defendant breaches an order if you have contacted them first.
If you feel you are in immediate danger by a defendant, you should call 000.
What are the penalties for breach of a Domestic Violence Order in Queensland?
A defendant who breaches a Domestic Violence or Protection Order in Queensland is liable to a maximum of three years’ imprisonment or a fine up to 120 penalty units ($14,136).
If you have previously been convicted of a domestic violence offence, this penalty is increased to five years’ imprisonment or a fine up to 240 penalty units ($28, 272).
Alternatively, a court may order that you undertake community service or be placed on a good behaviour bond. This punishment is up to the court to decide and the type of penalties the court imposes is determined by how serious the offence was as well as other circumstances.
A breach of a Domestic Violence Order may also result in a criminal record.
Defences to a breach
A breach of a Protection Order can be defended in Queensland if you were not aware of the existence of the order. The police will then have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they had informed you about its existence.
What should I do if I have been charged for breaching a Domestic Violence Order?
Breaching a Domestic Violence Order is a serious offence in Queensland. You should get legal advice from a lawyer before entering a plea of guilty or not guilty.
A lawyer will also be able to tell you if there are any possible defences that you can raise. Such as, you were not aware of the Protection Order or that you breached the order because of an extraordinary emergency.
How can a Domestic Violence Order be amended or cancelled?
The protected person, the defendant, or a police officer can apply to a Queensland court to have the Domestic Violence Order amended or revoked.
If the protected person applies for an order, the Magistrate will need to be convinced that they are not being pressured or threatened to amend or change the order by the defendant. The Magistrate will consider the safety of the protected person and how revoking or changing the order may adversely affect them.
If the protected person or defendant does not agree with a Magistrate’s decision to make, amend, or refuse to make a Domestic Violence Order, they can appeal to the District Court. You will have 28 days from the date of the decision to lodge an appeal.
Your solicitor will be able to help you lodge an appeal and represent you in court proceedings.