Tips on what to do when you are served with a Domestic Violence Order
We have set out the most important things to remember to ensure that you don’t inadvertently breach the Order before you are able to obtain legal advice.
1. Don’t Panic
The first thing to do is not panic. You are not going to jail and, apart from when the Police first serve the paperwork on you, they will not need to see you again unless you have breached the Order. It is not a final Order and it will not show up on a criminal history check. The Order will only be a Temporary Order which is in place until the matter is next before the Court.
2. Read the Order very carefully
This is perhaps the most important step. Carefully read the Order to work out what you are not allowed to do. Sometimes the Order will only have the mandatory condition, being that you must be of good behaviour and not commit an act of Domestic Violence. Other times there will be further conditions on the Order, such as not approaching the Aggrieved, not to contact the Aggrieved or, not to go within 100 metres of where the Aggrieved lives, works or frequents, amongst others.
It is important that you know and understand what you are not able to do. If the Order is only in the mandatory condition, then this does not prevent you from continuing your relationship and living together, it just means that you must be of good behaviour.
It is also important to note that there could be exceptions to the above conditions, such as when spending time with a child in accordance with an Order of the Court or as set out in writing. This means that provided you are complying with an existing written agreement or Court Order, then you are not breaching the conditions on the Order. For example, if the Order states that you are not to approach your children however a Family Court Order provides that you can spend time with the children from 7-9pm each Wednesday, then you will not be in breach of the Order if you are spending time with your children between 7-9pm on a Wednesday. However, if you are spending time with the children outside of this, then you are likely to be found in breach of the Order.
If you breach the terms of the Order, then you will be charged with a Criminal offence which may impact upon your career, as well as then leaving you with a criminal record. The penalties for breaching a Protection Order are extensive and can include a term of imprisonment. This is why it is so important that you understand what you are not to do so as you do not breach the Order.
3. Keep a cool head
Whatever you do, do not attack or abuse the person who has applied for the Order. Understand that they have applied for the Order on the basis of the information set out in the Application for a Protection Order which will have been provided to you by the Police. If you do not agree with the information that is set out in the Application, don’t talk to them about this. You will be given an opportunity to put your version of events forward to the Court when the matter is next before the Court. In the meantime, start writing down what you say in response to the allegations in the Application so you can provide this to the Duty Solicitor at the Court. They will be able to assist you in presenting your case to the Magistrate when the Application is next heard.
4. Make sure you know when the matter is next before the Court
When you are served with the Temporary Protection Order, you will also be served with the Application for a Protection Order and a Notice of Adjournment. Make sure you read the Notice of Adjournment carefully, as it will tell you when the matter is next before the Court. It is important that you are there on that day otherwise there may be adverse findings against you if you do not appear.
As such, as soon as you know when the matter is next before the Court, start making whatever arrangements you need to take that day off work. Your matter will be listed for 9.00am, however there could be 40 or more other matters before the Magistrate on that day. As such, your matter may not be heard until later in the day so it is important that you are able to be at Court for the whole date.
5. Get Legal advice
Make sure you contact us to make an appointment to obtain legal advice about the Application and to answer any questions that you might have about the Order, the Application or about what your options are. We recommend that you obtain legal advice prior to attending Court as this will give you a better understanding of your rights and what to expect on the day.
If you or someone you know has been served with an Application for a Protection Order make sure you book in to speak with one of our Domestic Violence specialists who will be able to answer all of your questions and provide you with comprehensive legal advice and defend the Application if necessary.