What Happens When You Are Charged With Domestic Violence?

One of the first questions we are asked about domestic violence matters is what happens if you are charged with domestic violence? You should, of course, look for the best domestic violence lawyer or AVO lawyer to help you through this time to get the best result. When you are charged with a domestic violence offence, a beach of domestic violence order or just being served with a domestic violence order (DVO or AVO), it can seem like you have no options but there are many ways that these matters can be resolved for both parties.

How does it deal withan allegation of domestic violence?
When a person makes an allegation about domestic violence in the Family Court, the court will not just accept the allegation but will exercise caution when considering the case. The court will take into account all surrounding factors to make an interim determination if this allegation places a child at risk and then will make a final decision at a later date. If there is any independent evidence, such as witnesses or physical evidence, then the court is more likely to accept the allegation. If there has been any previous allegations of domestic violence or any allegations in other proceedings, this will also hold more weight.

Being served with a DVO or AVO
When you are served with a domestic and family violence order or an apprehended violence order, you will receive some paperwork from the police. This paper work will include the temporary order, if there is one, and the application for domestic violence order which will contain information about the allegations that the other party is making about you. It's important that you carefully read the temporary or interim domestic violence order because this is a legal document that explains what you can and can't do. If you do not abide by these conditions, you could end up being charged with a criminal offence. Check out our page, What is an interim domestic violence order?, for more information.

The application for DVO is also important. This outlines what the other person is seeking on a final basis and what they are saying about why an order should be put in place. It is the information in this document that the other person will be relying on in court to ask for the domestic violence order so you need to start thinking about how you can contest that information.

Being charged with a breach of domestic violence order
When you are charged with contravening a domestic violence order, or breaching a domestic violence order, you will be served with a notice to appear in court on a certain date to answer to the charge. If you have been arrested and held in custody, you will receive additional information about what the charge is and why they are holding you in custody.

When you appear at your first court date, you will be provided with a police brief called a QP9. This document will contain the allegations about the alleged offence and a copy of your criminal history, if you have any. This is the paperwork that the police will be reading out in court and the information on which the judge or magistrate will make a decision. If you do not agree with this information, it is important that you do not just plead guilty to the charge to  'get it over and done with'. This will remain on your record and can be accessed by the police and anyone who legally applies to see this information for your entire life.

It is important that you see a lawyer at least once to understand how this will effect you click here to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with a lawyer to get some legal advice.

What are my options?
For a DVO application, you have a few options:

  • Agree to the order: you can consent without admissions to the order. This means that you accept that the order is made final as per the conditions that are sought in the application for the period stipulated, usually 5 years. When you do this, you are saying that you do not agree with what has been said about you but you do agree to the order being put in place. Be careful with just consenting to the order to have it finished quickly as this will remain on your record and will effect family court matters.
  • Negotiate the order: you can attempt to negotiate several aspects of the order, including the conditions, the duration and even the actual order itself. This can sometimes be difficult and it is negotiate differently if the police have taken out the order against you or if another party has taken out the order against you themselves.
  • Contest the order: if you cannot negotiate, or do not want to negotiate, and you do not want to agree to the order, you can contest it and list it for trial. This means you and the other person will have to prepare evidence, get witnesses and appear in court on another day for a trial where the magistrate or judge decides whether the order will be made final or not.

For a breach of domestic violence order or related domestic violence charge:

  • Plead guilty: you can plead guilty to the charge straight away. The magistrate will hear what the police are saying and you will have the opportunity to speak. You will then be sentenced and the charge will appear on your criminal history as a domestic violence offence. The penalties for domestic violence offences and contravene DVOs can be lengthy terms of imprisonment so make sure you have proper legal advice before you enter a plea.
  • Negotiate the charge: you can negotiate the allegations or the charge itself with the police prosecutor. This is a process that is done in writing through case conferencing and you will need to put in writing what you think should be changed and why. It will ultimately be up to the Police Prosecution at that court and their superior officers what happens with your charge.
  • Plead not guilty: you can plead not guilty and list your charge for trial. In Australia, you are innocent until proven guilty and the Prosecution must prove your guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They will provide you with a Brief of Evidence, this will contain their witness and what those witnesses will say. You can get your own witnesses, but you do not have to. You will all then attend court on the trial date, the magistrate will hear the evidence and make a decision. If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced.

Check out our How To Guides, How to run a domestic violence trial, for more information.

Will this effect my Family Law case?

In short, yes, it will have some effect on any family law proceedings, especially child custody. It can also have an effect on property proceedings, depending on how serious the allegations are. Any allegations that are raised in the DVO or in the police charges can be brought up in Family Court. Even the best domestic violence lawyer cannot stop the allegations from being raised in Family Court so you need to accept that this is something you will need to deal with and work out a plan with a good domestic violence and family lawyer on how to get through it. Check out our FAQs, How does the Family Court deal with domestic violence?, for more info.

We have many years experience in domestic violence matters for both applications and breaches of domestic violence orders. With our background in criminal law, we are experienced in court advocacy and have negotiated and appeared in court on thousands of DVOs and contraventions of DVO. To get the best result, you need to have the best domestic violence lawyer representing you.

Contact us for more information or to book a free legal advice session to find out your options.

This information does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer to obtain independent legal advice relevant to your situation.

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