Violence Restraining Orders
Violence restraining orders apply to a person who is not in a family or domestic relationship with the applicant, usually friends or neighbours. A violence restraining order can be obtained through the Magistrates Courts, and are civil proceedings in nature. The police also have the power to make a violence restraining order. These are usually in place for short periods of time such as 24 hours or up to 72 hours.
When is a violence restraining order appropriate?
When a non-family member has been:
- Physically or sexually abusive
- Emotionally or psychologically abusive
- Economically abusive
- Stalking both physically and via social media
- Controlling, dominating or causes a person to fear for their safety then a violence restraining order is deemed appropriate.
What is the purpose of the violence restraining order?
The VRO is designed to protect a person, who is in fear for their safety, by preventing the perpetrator from approaching them, communicating with them, or even allowing a third party to communicate on the perpetrator’s behalf with them. This means that the perpetrator is not allowed to send messages via someone else either. Today, these preventative conditions also include all forms of social media.
How to apply for a violence restraining order
To apply for a VRO one must complete an application at one of the Magistrates Courts, preferably a court closest to where they live. The application will be heard by either a Registrar, Magistrate or Justice of the Peace. Applications are heard on what’s known as an ex-parte basis, this means by the applicant only, the respondent is not in court when the application is initially made.
If the VRO is granted, then it is only an interim VRO. The interim VRO is then served on the respondent by the police. The respondent then has 21 days to lodge an objection with the court. If the respondent does nothing, that is ignores the VRO, then the VRO will be made on a final basis. The time period for a final VRO is usually for 2 years.
If the respondent lodges an objection to defend the VRO, then the matter will be listed for a trial. Both parties give their evidence at the trial and the Magistrate will decide whether the VRO has merit to be made on a final basis or whether the VRO should be dismissed.
When does a violence restraining order become a criminal dealing?
As stated above, a violence restraining order itself is a civil matter. It becomes a criminal matter if the respondent breaches one or more of the conditions of the restraining order. There are criminal penalties that apply for breaching a violence restraining order, including prison terms.