A Breach of a Family Violence Intervention Order in Victoria is governed by the Family Violence Protection Act 2008.
Family Violence Intervention Orders are used when individuals in a domestic family relationship are found to be experiencing violence or threatened violence. Family Violence Intervention Orders are governed by the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 which facilitates police or affected family members in taking out an order.
There are two types of Family Violence Intervention Orders:
- An interim order; and
- A final intervention order.
An interim order is only temporary and is made by a Magistrate who believes it is necessary to make such an order until a final decision is made in court proceedings.
A Magistrate will make a final intervention order once the matter has been heard in court and the Magistrate is satisfied that the defendant has committed domestic violence against a family member, and is likely to do so again.
For details on how to apply for a Family Violence Intervention Order, see our dedicated article, Family Violence Intervention Orders in Victoria.
Breach of a Family Violence Intervention Order in Victoria is an offence
Breaching the conditions of a Family Violence Intervention Order is serious and should be reported to the police promptly. If you are a protected person, write down the details of the breach including important information such as dates, times, and what happened. This will assist police when taking action against the defendant.
A protected person who is dissatisfied with the conditions of a Family Violence Intervention Order can apply to the court to have the conditions amended or cancelled.
It is important to note that a Family Violence Intervention Orders in Victoria do not operate unless the defendant has been served with a copy of the order or has received an explanation of the order in accordance with the Family Violence Protection Act 2008.
What happens if I breach a Family Violence Intervention Order in Victoria?
If a police officer believes on reasonable grounds that you have contravened any conditions of a Family Violence Intervention Order, the officer may arrest and detain you. Even though an application for a Family Violence Intervention Order is a civil matter between the parties, a breach of an order is a criminal offence in Victoria.
There is no such thing as a trivial breach. This means that you may be in breach of a Family Violence Intervention Order by walking past the protected person’s home or sending them a text message.
If you are a defendant who has been detained, you may be able to apply for bail.
If you are suspected by police of breaching an order, you will have to go to court. If found guilty, you may be imprisoned for up to two years or have to pay a fine up to 240 penalty units ($37,310).
Breaching a Family Violence Intervention Order in Victoria is a summary offence and is usually heard in the Magistrates’ Court. If you are a defendant charged with contravening a Family Violence Intervention Order, you will need to decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty. This is a serious decision that should be discussed with your lawyer who will be able to give you legal advice and help prepare you for the court hearing.
A defendant who persistently breaches a Family Violence Intervention Order can be imprisoned for a maximum five years and / or be fined up to 600 penalty units ($93,276).
To be found guilty of persistently breaching a Family Violence Intervention Order, the police have to prove that you had on at least two occasions within 28 days of the first offence, engaged in conduct that was in breach of the order. The police also need to prove that you knew, or ought to have known, that you were breaching the order.
If convicted, you will have a criminal record.
Can I appeal against a Family Violence Intervention Order in Victoria?
A party (protected person or defendant) to a Family Violence Intervention Order can appeal to the County Court of Victoria if they disagree with the making of the order or the conditions of the order.
A Magistrate’s refusal to grant an intervention order may also be appealed to the County Court. An appeal must be lodged within 30 days of the order being made.
What if the protected person contacts me?
In Victoria, a protected person cannot be found guilty of encouraging, permitting, or authorising a defendant to breach a Family Violence Intervention Order.
For example, a protected person will not be in contravention of the intervention order if they invite you to come to their place of residence or spend time with you. However, you will be in breach if you accept the invitation. Therefore it is important to get legal advice before responding to any communication made by the protected person.