16 May 4 steps you should take if you’re subject to a potential protection order
Protection Orders are serious matters
A protection or domestic violence order can restrict contact with the aggrieved spouse as well as contact with children.
If you are subject to an order, you must understand that it is a very serious matter that deserves your prompt attention. There are potential consequences to a DVO even if you don’t break the order, from contact with children or even the ability for you to hold a weapons licence.
Temporary protection order vs protection order
A temporary protection order is like a protection order but it’s for a shorter time to protect those in danger up until the date that a magistrate can decide the application for the full protection order. A hearing for a final order will follow afterwards, but it is usually a long wait. It’s essential to follow and obey the temporary order and obtain legal advice as soon as possible
A protection order is a domestic violence order made by a magistrate in court to protect people in domestic and family violence situations. Most protection orders last for two years however the order can be made for longer or extended if the court feels it’s appropriate.
Why is it important to consult with a lawyer?
Every DVO has a standard condition that the respondent must be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence against the aggrieved or any other person named in the order, including children, relatives or friends. When a court makes a DVO, it can set out specific conditions that must be followed and obeyed by the person who has committed the violence. These rules can impact on your life and it’s important that you are fully aware of the consequences of these rules before the court makes the order.
Consequences of a DVO
The order might stop you:
• contacting or visiting your children;
• approaching the aggrieved at work (what if you work near them or regularly attend their workplace for alternative reasons?);
• staying in a home you currently share, even if the house is owned or rented in your name
• approaching relatives or friends (if named in the order);
• going to a child’s school or day care centre; and
• any extra conditions deemed necessary or desirable,
It is possible to negotiate the conditions, that’s why you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.
What to do if you’re subject to a potential protection order
You’ll want to take specific steps to deal with the prospect of having a protection order issued against you. Here are some suggestions.
- Firstly follow and obey the Temporary Protection Order, even if you feel that you have a valid defence and will defeat an attempt to turn the temporary order into a permanent order.
- Gather any physical evidence relating to any incidents or events the aggrieved application refers to, such as clothing, photos, videos, and objects.
- Assemble any documents or records that could relate to the case, such as letters, emails, phone and GPS records, computer records, and records that might show where you were at the time of an incident; and
- Make a list of possible witnesses—include every person you think has information about the incident, the accusations or the petitioner—and obtain the witnesses’ contact information.
Even if you plan on consenting to the order, these items could prove useful in negotiating the terms of the order. For e.g. – If you are accused of calling or texting repeatedly, your phone records might show otherwise.
What not to do when faced with a protection order
• It’s a criminal offence to contravene any of the conditions of a temporary protection order or protection order.
• Do not destroy evidence that you think could hurt you, as this may cast you in a suspicious light with and can lead to criminal charges
• Try to talk to the aggrieved or witnesses you expect will testify for them, (including text messages or email), or
• contravene or disregard a temporary restraining order in any way making it even harder for you to defend against the request for a permanent order.
• You should never ignore a restraining order request. Instead, you should get information about your rights and options, consult with a lawyer, and participate in the court process.
When should you consult with a lawyer?
Temporary orders can happen very quickly (and sometimes without you even knowing) and are usually followed soon by a permanent order. Your ability to defend against a temporary or permanent order or even negotiating the conditions will depend on having a thorough understanding of the law.
Having an experienced family lawyer on your side — someone familiar with the law, the rules of evidence, and the sensitivities of the judge — will greatly increase your chances of a favourable outcome.