What is an intervention order?
An intervention order is an order made by a Magistrate at the Magistrates’ Court to protect a person who has experienced violent or threatening behaviour from another individual.
Intervention orders are brought to the Court by the affected person, also known as the Applicant, or by the Police on the Applicant’s behalf. Applicants may also apply for orders to be made on behalf of their children. The individual who the order is being made against is called the Respondent.
Intervention orders impose a range of conditions on the Respondent to prevent them from continuing the threatened conduct against the Applicant. This might include no contact restrictions, which may prevent you from contacting the Applicant or other people or exclusion restrictions, which may prohibit you from going to particular places.
Intervention orders can be made for a specific period or indefinitely. They are most commonly one to two years in length.
There are two types of intervention orders; family violence intervention orders and personal safety intervention orders.
Family Violence Intervention Orders
A family violence intervention order aims at protecting family members from family violence within the home. Family violence includes physical, mental, sexual and emotional abuse, as well as economic abuse, threats and any other behaviour that causes a family member to fear for their safety and wellbeing or another person’s.
The affected person must be a family member of the Respondent or currently or have previously been in a relationship with the Respondent.
Personal Safety Intervention Orders
A personal safety intervention order applies where the affected person is someone other than a family member. They are often sought by neighbours, friends, colleagues and other members of the community. The personal safety intervention order aims to protect people from behaviours including stalking, assault, sexual assault, harassment and threats.
If the affected person feels immediately threatened, they can apply for interim orders. These orders are made by the Court where the Court feels the affected person is in danger of harm and needs immediate protection. They are temporary orders that will be in place until the matter can be fully dealt with by the Court.
If a person applies for an intervention order against you, you have the following options. You can:
Consent to the intervention order; You may consent to the intervention order being made against you. You agree to be bound by the conditions of the order, but are not required to admit to the Applicant’s version of events. This is called consenting without admission.
If you consent to an intervention order, it will not appear on your criminal record. It may appear on your record, however, if you breach any of the conditions of the order once it is made.
Agree to an undertaking instead of an order; An undertaking is a written promise to the Applicant and the Magistrate that you will follow particular conditions, instead of having an order made. It is the Applicant’s choice as to whether to accept your undertaking. The Applicant also has the right to reapply for an intervention order if they feel it is necessary. If you breach an undertaking, you will not be charged for the breach.
Dispute the order; If you do not agree with an order being made or any of the conditions being sought, you may dispute it at Court. The application will be listed for a contested hearing and you will be given the opportunity to present your version of events to the Magistrate. You should seek legal advice about how to present your case and what witnesses you wish to bring with you on the day.
Ignore the summons and not go to Court; If you choose not to attend Court, the Court can still make an order against you. You will not have a say in the conditions ordered by the Magistrate but will have to obey the order from the day you receive a copy.
What happens if you breach the intervention order?
It is a criminal offence to disobey an intervention order. If you do something prohibited by the order, the Police may charge you with breaching the order. The maximum penalty for breaching an order is 240 penalty units and/or up to 2 years imprisonment. There are more serious consequences for further breaches.
If you are ordered not to contact the Applicant, it is still an offence to speak to them or see them even with their permission. The responsibility is on you not to disobey the conditions of the order.
Appealing an intervention order decision
You have the right to appeal to the County Court if you feel that the conditions of the intervention order are unjust or too harsh. If you wish to do this, you must apply to the County Court within 30 days of the Magistrate’s decision.
Changing an intervention order
You can request permission to change an intervention order against you where you have had a change in circumstances since the order was made and this change is significant enough to justify the change. The sorts of changes the Court may consider reasonable include an affected person attempting to resume contact with you, or starting a job in a nearby excluded area.
The Court will consider this change and the effect it may have on the affected person in order to determine whether to give you permission to apply.