The courts have many tools at their disposal. We’re all familiar with the court’s power to impose fines and such as prison, community service and financial fines – one that fewer people are familiar with are Intervention Orders.

You hear about this type of order a lot on the news – but how exactly does it work? And what happens if you are subjected to an Intervention Order as part of an ongoing case?

Whether you are the complainant or the accused in a court case, it’s important that you understand what you’re about to get into.

Going to court can be an exhausting and stressful time – knowing what to expect (as well as engaging expert legal advice from a criminal lawyer) can go a long way towards making your experience less difficult.

What are Intervention Orders?

Thanks to American TV shows and movies, you’re probably more familiar with the term “Restraining Order” – what they call this type of court order over in the States.

While the name is different, they fill largely the same purpose.

Both are legally-enforceable orders that are frequently applied for or handed down by the courts to protect people, locations or businesses from specific individuals and reduce the possibility of violent or harmful behaviour, protecting the applicant.

If an application for an Intervention Order (IVO) is successful, then the respondent (the person who’s subject to the Order) may be forced to:

  • Immediately stop certain behaviours
  • Cease contact with a particular individual, or do so through intermediaries
  • Maintain distance from the applicant, their family or their property

While these are the most common uses of these Orders, Magistrates can get very specific when handing these Orders down. That’s why we don’t call them “Restraining Orders” down here – “Intervention Order” is simply more descriptive!

For example, the Magistrate might order that the respondent:

  • Return property and assets to the protected person
  • Turn firearms and weapons over to police
  • Adhere to the terms of a custody agreement
  • Attend counselling
  • Refrain from digital contact, including online slander

And it isn’t necessarily in response to cases where direct physical harm or damage has occured, either – Intervention Orders may also be issued for:

  • Intimidation and threats
  • Emotional abuse
  • Harassment
  • Damage to property

Nor is an applicant restricted to filing an application for themselves – individuals can also apply for Intervention Orders on behalf of children and relatives.

Applying for an Intervention Order

Step 1: apply for an Intervention Order online

Applying for an Intervention Order has been significantly streamlined over recent years, making it easier for individuals – in particular, victims of family violence – to obtain protection.

For most IVOs, the process is now done largely online.

And as part of the online application, the applicant will need to include:

  • Personal information, as well as details of other individuals who need protecting
  • Details about the respondent and their behaviour
  • The conditions requested

Step 2: attend court

Afterwards, the applicant may need to attend an appointment at the Magistrate’s Court, verifying all the information provided as part of the application.

If the application is accepted, the Court will provide the applicant with a copy of the Order and all the documentation, as well as forwarding copies to the nearest police station to the recipient.

In some cases, the Court may also issue an Interim Order that takes effect immediately in order to protect the applicant while awaiting the eventual hearing.

Step 3: serve the respondent

The next step is to inform the recipient that they are the subject of an Intervention Order, and involves serving a copy of the application in-person. This part of the process is usually handled by police, sparing the applicant from potential harm.

(While we’ve been calling them the recipient, in Court parlance, they’re officially referred to as “respondents”).

Step 4: court hearing

The final step is a court hearing, where both the applicant and the recipient attend to make their cases and obtain a final Order.

It’s crucial that recipients attend this hearing (and ideally, engage our criminal lawyers in Highett), as non-attendance doesn’t delay the process, and can simply result in an Order being made against them without the opportunity to contest.

Contesting an Intervention Order

If you’ve been served with an Intervention Order and wish to contest it, proper legal advice from a criminal lawyer who specialises in family violence cases is essential.

Should you contest, you’ll move onto the next step, what we call the Directions Hearing.

During this step, the Court will assess the facts of the case, as well as what areas of the Order you’re contesting. If it’s a specific part of the Order you object to, the Magistrate may attempt to try to settle the matter.

If you’re contesting the Order as a whole however, you will be scheduled to attend a Contested Hearing, where both you and the applicant will be able to present evidence justifying whether or not an Order should be issued.

As Civil matters, these hearings follow civil procedure. With so much on the line, it’s best to engage a family violence lawyer to provide legal advice and represent you.

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Changing an Intervention Order

Perhaps you want to extend your Intervention Order past its end-date. Maybe you want to add or remove a condition. It could be that circumstances have changed, and you’re no longer at-risk.

These are just some of the circumstances in which an applicant may want to amend or even revoke their Intervention Order.

From the applicant’s standpoint, this follows a similar process to the application process:

  1. Online application
  2. Court Hearing
  3. Serving the documents to the recipients

In the event of a recipient seeking to amend an Intervention Order in Victoria, the process is a little bit different.

Firstly, the court will need to grant you permission to apply for a change (what we call an application for leave). This permission may not be granted – the Magistrate makes a judgement call based on the circumstances.

Assuming permission is granted however, you’ll need to fill in an application online and take it with you to Court, after which a court date will be set. Just remember that all you’ve done is file an application – the Order remains active in the interim.

When your court date arrives, you’ll need to bring evidence to support your argument that circumstances have changed and that the Order should be amended or revoked.

Planning on changing an Intervention Order? Be sure you talk to our IVO lawyers in Melbourne first.

Join our criminal lawyers next week as we go into further depth about Intervention Orders

We’ve covered most of the important areas involved when it comes to Intervention Orders – with one exception, that is.

Specifically, we were only able to briefly brush over what can happen if you breach one!

We’ll get around to that in next week’s blog.

Are you facing the prospect of being served with an Intervention order?

Our criminal lawyers in Dandenong are specialists in all areas of criminal law, including family violence. If you need a domestic violence lawyer near you to argue your case or simply offer legal advice, our team is the one to call.

In addition to our wealth of experience, our law team also offers Legal Aid in Melbourne, giving everyone access to quality legal representation and advice.

Whether you’ve just been served with an IVO or are considering whether or not it’s a good idea to apply for one, our legal team is eager to help – all you need to do is get in touch by calling (03) 9781 4900, or by making contact online.