If you have been served with an intervention order by a member of Victoria Police, you might feel confused and anxious.

You may be shocked to realise that the intervention order has immediate effect. It may prevent you from returning home, contacting a loved one or returning to work. It may affect your ability to earn an income. It may also be accompanied by criminal proceedings.

If you have been served with a family violence safety notice or an intervention order application, you should immediately obtain legal advice from an experienced intervention order lawyer before appearing in Court. Being proactive at the beginning of intervention order proceedings can provide you with an opportunity to negotiate before the matter goes any further. This can include negotiating for the withdrawal of the application or negotiating the conditions of the intervention order, so that you can return home or to work.

What You Need to Know About Being Served With an Intervention Order

The following is what you need to know when you have been served with an intervention order application or family violence safety notice.

1. There are two kinds of intervention orders: family violence intervention orders and personal safety intervention orders. Family violence intervention orders are obtained when the parties are related to each other or used to be related to each other (eg, ex-partners). Personal safety intervention orders are obtained when the parties are not related (eg, neighbours or former work colleagues). Applications for either a family violence intervention order or personal safety intervention order can be made by Victoria Police or by the applicant themselves. However, usually Victoria Police will only become involved if a criminal complaint has been made.

2. Family Violence Safety Notices: if Police are called to an alleged family violence incident, they can issue a family violence safety notice to the alleged perpetrator without going to Court. This has immediate effect and allows Police to remove the alleged perpetrator from the home. The matter is then listed in Court, usually within the a couple of weeks, so that the notice can be converted into an application for a family violence intervention order.

3. Police Applications: Where Victoria Police are the applicants for an intervention order for the protection of another, referred to as either the Affected Family Member (AFM) or Protected Person (PP), they are supposed to conference with that person and obtain their views in relation to whether the Order is required, what conditions should be imposed and for what duration. However, they are not bound by the views of the AFM or PP. Sometimes AFM’s do not want an order at all, but Victoria Police will persist in their application because of concerns over the AFM’s safety. This can create a fraught situation where the only party seeking the Order is Victoria Police. Effective representation can be essential to navigating a resolution to the proceedings, which reflects the interests of all parties and not just Victoria Police.

4. Contested IVO Proceedings: Contested Intervention Order Proceedings can take quite some time to resolve. Unless the application is withdrawn or consented to by the Respondent (ie the person served with the order), the Court will follow due process until the application is determined at a Contested Hearing. Usually, there will be 2-4 administrative hearings before a Contested Hearing is conducted before a Magistrate. The Court can also order the exchange of Further and Better Particulars between the parties, so that the parties are aware of what is alleged and what is in dispute. Also, if the parties are self-represented in family violence intervention order proceedings, the Court may need to order that legal aid represent one or both parties in order to cross-examine the AFM. Respondents to family violence intervention order applications are not allowed to cross-examine the AFM so need a lawyer to do so. Because of Court backlogs, Contested IVO proceedings can take months to resolve.

5. Beware the Interim IVO trap: If an application for a Final Intervention Order has been made, you may have also been served with an Interim Intervention Order which remains in place until the Application for a Final Intervention Order is finalised. Interim Intervention Orders have the same legal effect as Final Orders; ie, if you breach it, it is a criminal offence. Because of Court delays, a Respondent to an application for a Final Intervention Order can be placed on an Interim Order for months before the Final Application is heard. If the Respondent is not successful in defending the Application for a Final Intervention Order, they will be placed on a Final Intervention Order for at least a further 12 months after the Contested Hearing. Any time that the Respondent spent on an Interim Order is not taken into account as part of the Final Order. Accordingly, if a Respondent contests an application and is unsuccessful, they can spend months longer being restrained by an Intervention Order than they otherwise would have if they had accepted the Final Order in the first place.

6. You can consent without admissions: even if you do not accept the allegations, you can consent to an intervention order without admissions. This means that, even if there are criminal proceedings underway, you can consent to an intervention order being made against you without admitting the allegations. Your consent to the intervention order cannot thereafter be used against you in any intervention order or criminal proceedings. Some Respondents to intervention orders decide to consent without admissions to the making of the order so that they can put the proceedings behind them. There are also practical reasons why a Respondent might consent to an intervention order without admissions, which include reducing the cost of the proceedings, avoiding protracted legal proceedings and confining any intervention order to the shortest possible period of time.

How Our Intervention Order Lawyers Can Help

Every case is different and intervention orders can be complex, particularly if accompanied by criminal or family law proceedings. The best advice is to get the best advice. Contact one of our experienced intervention order lawyers to discuss your proceedings and get the peace of mind, knowing that you are in the very best hands with our team.  The first Melbourne firm to practice exclusively in criminal defence law, our criminal defence lawyers have the skill, experience and understanding to deliver the best representation for you or your loved one.