What is Domestic Violence?

What is Domestic Violence in NSW?

Domestic Violence refers to any form of abuse occurring within a ‘domestic’ relationship. In NSW there is no exhaustive list of what constitutes domestic violence in any single piece of legislation. However, some of the types of behaviours that might constitute domestic violence include:
• physical violence
• emotional/psychological abuse
• sexual abuse/assault
• coercive and controlling behaviour
• Stalking, harassment or intimidation
• threats to harm others, pets or property
• financial deprivation

Rather than giving a complete list of what is or isn’t domestic violence, in NSW, when offences are committed where the offender and victim have a “domestic relationship”, the offence is deemed “domestic violence related”. A “domestic relationship” under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW) can include spouses, intimate partners and relatives but can also include housemates and carers (whether paid or unpaid).

The terms domestic violence, family violence and intimate partner violence are thrown around interchangeably. Family violence generally refers to abuse between family members, such as between parents and children, siblings, or intimate partners. Intimate partner violence, as the name suggests, refers more strictly to abuse between intimate partners, including spouses and those in de-facto relationships. In this blog, the term ‘domestic violence’ will refer to abuse that occurs between current or former intimate partners.

Domestic violence remains a major societal issue both in NSW and across Australia. In 2022, there were over 35,000 family violence-related assaults recorded by police in NSW, with assaults involving current or ex intimate partners accounting for over half that number. Additionally, over 38,000 Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders were issued in the same year.

What is an AVO?

An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is an order made by the court (or police in some circumstances) to protect victims of violence from future threats to their safety. This is done by restraining a person from being able to do certain things and as a result they are sometimes called restraining orders or protection orders. Conditions of an AVO can include such things as to not approach within 100 metres of where a person lives or works; or not to stalk, harass or intimidate them even online or across social media.

There are two types of AVO’s in NSW:
• ADVO (Apprehended Domestic Violence Order) – where a domestic relationship exists between the parties
• APVO (Apprehended Personal Violence Order) – where no domestic relationship exists between the parties

What to do if you’re charged with a domestic violence offence?

If you’ve been charged with a domestic violence offence, the first thing to do is seek legal advice from a Criminal Lawyer in Sydney. You are not obliged to talk to police or give a recorded interview (called an ERISP) regardless of what they may tell you.

If you’re charged by police with a domestic violence related offence, it is likely they will also apply for a provisional AVO against you to protect the alleged victim. These provisional AVO’s can be granted by the court or even a senior police officer and last until the court makes either an Interim or Final AVO, or until the AVO application is withdrawn or dismissed.

It is important that you read, understand and comply with the conditions of any AVO against you (whether Provisional, Interim or Final) as breach of an AVO is a criminal offence and can result in further charges and penalties. You may argue against a Final AVO at a later court date or simply consent to the AVO being made without admitting guilt to any offence, but your criminal law solicitor or barrister can give you advice on this.

What to do at Court for a Domestic Violence Offence?

It is important that you know and attend your court dates as failure to do so can result in you being convicted and sentenced in your absence. At the first court date, you will be given a ‘brief’ of the evidence the prosecution intends to use against you. This ‘brief’ will include the alleged facts of the offence. If you disagree with these facts it is important to speak to the prosecutor. They may agree to minor changes being made.

You may also need to decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. It is best to get legal advice before you make a decision from a Sydney criminal lawyer. If you have been unable to do so, you can ask the court to adjourn your case so you can get legal advice.

If you do decide to plead guilty, your case will move to sentencing. At that point you can make a plea of mitigation – essentially asking the magistrate to reduce your coming sentence due to various reasons such as mental health, lack of criminal history, circumstances of the offence, etc.

Pleading not guilty will result in the case going to hearing where the prosecution must prove you are guilty of the offence ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, based on the evidence. This will also be your opportunity to give evidence or call witnesses if you choose to do so.
Regardless of what plea you make, having a lawyer advocate on your behalf can drastically improve the ability to present a strong case and achieve a favourable outcome.

When you are charged with a domestic violence offence and an AVO has been issued against you, it can be overwhelming and terrifying. Talk to one of the best criminal lawyers in Sydney as soon as possible to take care of your case.

Helful Links

PHONE: 1800 100 529
Contact Form: https://powerhouselaw.sydney/contact-us/

PHONE: 1300 789 978
WEBSITE: https://mensline.org.au/family-violence/

PHONE: 000

PHONE: 1800 737 732
WEBSITE: 1800respect.org.au
24/7 National counselling helpline, information and support.

PHONE: 1800 656 463
WEBSITE: facs.nsw.gov.au/domestic-violence
24/7 Domestic Violence helpline for information, support and referrals to services near you.

NSW State-wide
PHONE: 1800 424 017
8am-8pm AEST, Monday – Friday