Understanding an AVO



David Philippe @ Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers


An apprehended violence order (also known as an ‘AVO’) is a Court order that protects victims of domestic or personal violence when they reasonably fear imminent future violence, intimidation, harassment or damage to their property.

 There are two types of AVOs, which include:

Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (‘ADVO’)

 An ADVO is made when the person in need of protection (‘PINOP’) was or still is in a “domestic relationship” with the Defendant.

A “domestic relationship” can be established between two people in the following circumstances (see section 5 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW)):

  1. The two persons are/were married or are in a de facto relationship for the purposes of section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
  2. The two persons are in an intimate relationship or living together.
  3. The two persons were previously or are currently in a relationship where one voluntarily cares for the other; or
  4. The two persons are relatives or are interconnected under an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Kinship system.

Apprehended Personal Violence Order (‘APVO’)

 An APVO is distinguished from an ADVO as it provides protection against individuals who are unrelated to you and who you are not in a domestic relationship with. The following people can be subject to an APVO (but not limited to): a co-worker, a neighbour, a client, a friend, a bully, or any other person you have reason to fear.

In APVO matters, the Court can order that the matter be referred to Community Justice Mediation, unless the following exceptions can be satisfied: there is a history of personal violence between the Defendant and the PINOP; the Defendant has previously stalked, intimidated or harassed the PINOP; and mediation has previously been unsuccessful.


 Provisional AVO

  • Made by Police or the Court in response to an urgent application to ensure the safety and protection of the PINOP or to prevent substantial damage to the PINOP’s property. An officer must apply for a provisional order in circumstances where he/she has a reasonable belief that a domestic violence offence has been committed or child abuse is imminent: Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW) section 27.
  • A provisional AVO lasts 28 days and can be revoked, withdrawn or dismissed before the matter is due in the Local Court.
  • A provisional AVO made by Police must be heard in Court on the next domestic violence “list” date.

Interim AVO

  • Order made by the Court to extend a provisional AVO or to provide temporary protection where necessary.
  • When the Defendant is served with an AVO application, he/she can go to Court and seek an adjournment to obtain legal advice. An interim AVO will be made until the next time the matter is in Court. Alternatively, the Defendant may not agree with the application and the Magistrate will order an interim AVO until the hearing date.
  • In accordance with section 22(1) of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW), the test for whether an interim order should be made is whether the Court feels it is necessary or appropriate to do so in the circumstances.

Final AVO

  • Will be made when the Defendant has not turned up to Court; the Defendant has agreed and consented to the AVO; or when a hearing has taken place and the Court considers it appropriate for such an order to be made.
  • Made for a specified period of time – 6 months, 12 months or two years.

Where the Court imposes a Final AVO, you will not receive a criminal conviction (you may be entitled to apply for the AVO to be varied or revoked). However, a Final AVO may affect your firearms licence, security licence and/or your ability to work with children.

Firearms & Security Licence

Your firearms licence will be suspended if a Provisional or Interim AVO is imposed, and cancelled if a Final AVO is made. You will be entitled to apply for a firearms licence ten years after the date the Final AVO ends provided you can demonstrate that you are a “fit and proper person”. Generally, police will seize your firearms when a Provisional or Interim AVO is made.

In the circumstance where your firearms licence has been cancelled or suspended, you may not be allowed to work under a Class 1F or P1F security licence. Moreover, your security licence will be cancelled or your application rejected as an AVO will consequently characterise you as an unfit and improper person.

Working With Children

Notwithstanding the imposition of an AVO, you will generally not be prevented from working with children. However, in certain circumstances an AVO may be considered in a Working With Children Check.


When an AVO is ordered against you, the Court will impose certain conditions that must be strictly complied with. These conditions are appropriate to minimise the risk of harm to the PINOP (for example, you must not have any contact with the PINOP even if they initiate contact). If you voluntarily and knowingly breach an AVO the Police are entitled to arrest and charge you with contravening the Court order as well as any additional criminal offence committed, such as assault.


If you are found guilty of contravening an AVO, a criminal conviction will be recorded and you may be fined $5,500.00 and/or imprisoned for up to two years.

If you have an AVO application outstanding against you or have been charged with breaching your AVO, please do not hesitate to contact-

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