By Vanessa Hernandez

Domestic Violence Order

Domestic Violence Orders (‘DVO’) are court orders designed to prevent future domestic or family violence occurring. The can also commonly be referred to as “Protection Orders” or “Restraining Orders”.

A DVO tells the person committing an act of domestic violence (“the respondent”) what not to do in the future to the person affected by the domestic violence (“aggrieved”).

The conditions included in a DVO are very serious and it’s important to obtain legal advice to fully understand what it all means. Knowing what conditions apply to you, will help you plan for the safety and wellbeing of you, your children and any other person named in the order.

Regardless of whether you are the respondent or aggrieved, you should always know what actions may constitute a breach of the order and what might occur if there is a breach.

What would result in a breach of the DVO?

Generally speaking, every domestic violence order has a standard condition that the respondent must be of “good behaviour” and “not commit acts domestic violence against you, your children and any other person named on the order”. Other conditions may include (but are not limited to):

  • Respondent must not enter or frequent the aggrieved’s residential premises, workplace or places commonly attended by the aggrieved;
  • Respondent must not come within (a specified distance) of the aggrieved;
  • Respondent must not contact or ask any other person to contact the aggrieved;
  • Respondent must not attempt to locate the aggrieved; or
  • Respondent must not commit acts of domestic violence against the aggrieved.

A respondent who directly or indirectly breaches DVO conditions (without the written consent of the aggrieved or court) may have criminal penalties applied against them.

What to do when a DVO is breached?

If you believe that the respondent has breached a DVO, the police have a duty to investigate the domestic violence claim.  You should not at any time, take matters in your own hands.

When to call Triple Zero (000)

If the respondent breaches the conditions of the DVO and the respondent is committing acts of domestic violence now (i.e. the incident is time critical or life threatening), the aggrieved should call the police immediately on 000.

When to phone Police Link (131 444)

If the breach is not happening now, or the incident is not life threatening and there is little likelihood of the respondent breaching the DVO in the immediate future, then you should consider phoning Police link on 131 444.

You can also attend your local Police Station for complaints of such nature.

Notably, the police may charge the respondent with breaching the DVO.  If they do so, the respondent will then need to appear before the court as it may then be deemed a criminal offence.

If the Police Officer doesn’t take a Report or Act on your Complaint

If you believe that the police officer did not report, take the breach allegation seriously or did not act on your complaint, then you should contact your local Police Station or Region and request to speak with the Head Officer of the station or the Police Domestic Violence Liaison Officer. Note the name of the police officer who attended your call and provide the details of the breach, date & time, police officer who responded to the call.  Alternatively, seek urgent legal advice.

Maintain and Retain up to Date Notes

You should write down and collect all information of any potential breaches of a DVO condition by the respondent. The following are steps you can take to retain key information identifying a potential breach, this information assists police with their investigation and can be used in court:

  • Record any voice messages left on your telephone or mobile numbers;
  • Diarise key dates, time, locations, venues;
  • Take photos wherever it is safe to do so;
  • Screenshot any relevant SMS text message from the respondent;
  • Screenshot any relevant social media posts by the respondent; and
  • Retain letters and mail sent to your residential address.

What next? What are the penalties?

A breach of DVO conditions is heard in the Magistrates Court of Queensland unless it is a severe breach, in which case it may be escalated to the District Court.

The type of penalties a court may impose for a breach of a DVO is determined by the seriousness of the offence committed by the respondent. A DVO made against someone does not automatically result in a criminal record and it will depend largely on criminal histories and previous complaints of domestic violence.

A court may order the respondent to undertake community service or be placed on good behaviour bond for an indirect, unintentional or minor breach of the DVO conditions.

In more serious cases, it could result in 2 to 3 years’ imprisonment or fines up to $14,628.

As such, a breach of domestic violence conditions should not be treated lightly by a respondent as serious penalties can apply.

If you are the aggrieved, we always recommend that you ensure for your safety, all breaches are reported no matter how minor it may seem.  Always seek legal advice if you are uncertain and in the event of an emergency, dial “OOO”.