The simple answer is “don’t panic!”
Whether you have been served with a ‘Family Violence Intervention Order’ or a ‘Personal Safety Intervention Order’, the first thing you should do is seek legal advice. Often, the Intervention Orders contain ‘legal jargon’ and clauses which may sound confusing, so it is important to have the document read to you in a manner which you completely understand. It may also contain restrictions and/or exemptions which may affect your behaviour thereafter.
So what happens next? The Intervention Order should specify the details of the first hearing. You should seek legal advice about the hearing including advice on whether to consent to the Intervention Order being made on a final basis or whether you should contest it. As always there are also other options which are specific to your matter and should be explored by your lawyer. Remember though that if you choose to contest an Intervention Order, you will be required to present evidence to the Court and will need to gather and produce the evidence to your lawyer well prior to the hearing, so that your lawyer can prepare the case on your behalf.
According to data published by the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, in 2013/2014 there were a total of 99,868 Intervention Order listings heard by the Court, 50,208 of which were finalised either by consent or by Court Orders (which is a 49% increase since 2008/2009).
What does this all mean? It means that Intervention Orders are ever increasing and it is time to start taking them seriously. Take note that there are severe consequences should an individual breach an Intervention Order and it is strongly advised that each order is complied with.
But, remember that having an Intervention Order taken out against you does not mean that you have been charged with a crime. It is therefore a civil matter in the early stages and does not appear on your “public record”. However, should you breach an Intervention Order; you will be charged with a criminal offence, with serious consequences to follow.
If you have been served with an Intervention Order and require legal advice, or if you would like to learn more about the nature of Intervention Orders and the different types available, please contact our office on (03) 9408 8832.