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 range from 6 months to 2 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 to protect 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 an Interim Intervention Order. These orders are made in circumstances where the Court feels the affected person is in danger of harm and needs immediate protection. They are temporary orders that remain in place until the matter can be dealt with at the Court.
Your Options In Case Of Intervention Orders
If a person applies for an either type of Intervention Order against you, you have the following options. You can:
Consent to the the making of an Intervention Order
By consenting to the making of an Intervention Order against you, you agree to be bound by the conditions of the Order for the duration specified by the Court. Importantly, you are not required to admit to the Applicant’s version of events. This is called consenting without admission.
Allowing Respondent’s to consent without making admissions to the allegations against them sees many Applications resolve in this manner.
If you consent to an intervention order, it will not appear on your criminal record.
Various licensing bodies, such as the Taxi Services Commissioner, Victoria Police Licensing and Regulation Division (who handle Firearms and Security Licenses), are often notified of the making of an Order, even if it is without admission, and may take action against the Respondent.
Entering an Undertaking
An undertaking is a written promise to the Applicant and the Magistrate that you will follow particular conditions (often very similar to the conditions of an Intervention Order), 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 at a later date.
An important difference between an Intervention Order and an Undertaking is that if you breach an undertaking, you cannot be charged for with a criminal offence.
Fight / Contest the Application
If you do not agree with an Order being made, or any of the conditions being sought, you may dispute it at Court. This is called contesting the Application.
At a Contested Hearing, you will be given the opportunity to question the Applicant (called ‘cross-examining’) and present your version of events to the Magistrate, as well as call witnesses to give evidence. Contested Hearings are complex matters and you should seek legal advice about how to best present the case. There are also rules which prevent some Respondent’s from cross-examining the Applicant, particularly when the allegations relate to family violence.
Ignore the summons and not go to Court
If you choose not to attend Court, the Magistrate 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 are served with a copy by the Police.
What Happens If You Breach The Intervention Order?
It is a criminal offence to disobey (called ‘breaching’) 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 if they say they give you permission to do so. We commonly see clients charged with breaching Intervention Orders by responding to phone calls or text messages sent by the Applicant themselves.
Whilst this may appear unfair, the responsibility is on the Respondent to always abide by the conditions of the Order made by the Court.
Appealing An Intervention Order Decision
If you are unhappy with a decision in regards to an Intervention Order in the Magistrates’ Court, you have the right to appeal to the County Court. If you wish to do this, you must apply to the County Court within 28 days of the Magistrate’s decision.
Changing An Intervention Order
You can request to vary the conditions of an Intervention Order against you where there has been a change in circumstances since the Order was made, and the 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.