A breach of a Family Violence Order in Tasmania is a serious criminal offence. In Tasmania, a court may make a Family Violence Order (FVO) under the Family Violence Act 2004.
These orders generally prohibit a defendant from threatening, abusing, or assaulting a protected person of whom they are in a family or domestic relationship with. The legislation sets out who can apply for a FVO and the various grounds on which an order may be granted. For general information about FVOs, see our dedicated article, Family Violence Orders in Tasmania.
This article specifically provides information about breaches of a FVO in Tasmania.
What happens if there is a breach?
Although a FVO in Tasmania is a civil order, meaning that the order itself is not a criminal offence, not complying with it is a criminal offence.
A police officer can arrest a person who they suspect has breached a FVO in Tasmania. The defendant may then remain in police custody until they appear before a court.
If you have been arrested you can apply for bail, but bail will not be granted unless the court or police officer is satisfied that you are unlikely to affect the safety, wellbeing, or interests of the protected person.
What if the protected person contacted me first?
You can still be charged for breaching a FVO in Tasmania even if the protected person initiated the breach. Protected people need to be careful not to initiate a breach because they can be charged for inciting the contravention.
For example, if the order states that the defendant cannot come near the protected person’s home, the protected person should not invite the defendant to come over.
A protected person should report a breach of a FVO to Tasmanian police as soon as practicable. Keep notes about the breach, such as date, time, place, and what happened because this will assist police when investigating the breach.
Are there any defences to a breach of a Family Violence Order?
A FVO in Tasmania only takes effect if the defendant was in court when the order was made or if a copy of the order has been given to them. If neither of these has occurred, a defendant cannot be convicted for breaching a FVO.
If you have been charged with breaching a FVO in Tasmania, you should get legal advice before entering a plea of guilty or not guilty. A lawyer will also be able to tell you if there are any possible defences you can raise, such as that you were not aware of the FVO and can assist you to apply for bail.
What is the penalty for breaching a Family Violence Order?
The penalty for breaching a FVO in Tasmania depends on whether the defendant has previously breached an order. If it is your first offence, the maximum penalty is a fine up to 20 penalty units ($3,140 at the time of writing) or imprisonment for up to 12 months.
If it is the defendant’s second breach, the fine increases to 30 penalty units ($4,710) and imprisonment for up to 18 months. A third offence sees the fine increased to 40 penalty units ($6,280) and up to two years’ imprisonment.
If it is the defendant’s fourth or subsequent breach, then the maximum penalty is a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years. It is irrelevant whether the previous breaches involved orders that were protecting a different person from the current FVO.
How long do Family Violence Orders last in Tasmania?
The Tasmanian court will state in the FVO how long it remains in force. The period set is based on what the court believes is necessary to ensure the safety and interests of the protected person.
Can a Family Violence Orders be varied or revoked?
Sometimes it may be necessary to change the conditions of the FVO. This may be because there is a need to facilitate contact between a parent and a child. A FVO can also be revoked or varied by a Tasmanian court.
The defendant or protected person can apply to a court at any time to have an FVO revoked or varied. A court will not allow revocation or variation of the FVO unless it is satisfied that there has been a substantial change in the relevant circumstances since the order was first made.
The period of time the FVO is in effect may also be extended. This happens if the court is satisfied that an extension is necessary to protect a person or any affected children.