Final Family Violence Intervention Orders – What Does It Mean to Consent Without Admissions?

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Doogue + GeorgeThe article Final Family Violence Intervention Orders – What Does It Mean to Consent Without Admissions? is written by Doogue + George Defence Lawyers.

Doogue + George are experts in criminal law and have been involved in thousands of criminal matters and defended clients in hundreds of jury trials and thousands of other criminal cases. Our experienced lawyers have unparalleled experience in criminal law.

Final Family Violence Intervention OrderOur clients are often hesitant to consent to final family violence intervention orders. In certain situations this hesitation is warranted, where it is based upon completely false allegations. You are entitled to put these false allegations to proof. However, in other circumstances, it may be in your interest to consent to a final order without admissions. It is important that you have legal representation to assist you in reaching an informed decision, given the far-reaching consequences of a final order.

If you have current criminal charges where you have been served with an interim family violence intervention order, it may be in your interests to consent to a final order without admissions. This means that you can agree to conditions of the final order even though you do not agree with what is said about you. The court can make the order without deciding whether you did those things or not.

It is common for a magistrate to adjourn intervention order proceedings until the criminal matter has been finalised.1 Within this time, the interim order will still be in effect and will be extended for a matter of months and in rare cases, years. The courts are focused on ensuring the affected family member’s protection does not lapse between the expiry of an interim order and the service of a final order on a respondent.

What should I do?

Final intervention orders commonly last 12 months,2 although they can be longer depending on the risk of further family violence being committed. For some of our clients, the interim order, adjournments, associated delays and extensions are almost equivalent to and sometimes longer than the duration of the final order.

In some circumstances, consenting without admissions is a more efficient process, particularly if you have other criminal charges on foot. It can mean that you can focus on the more serious criminal charges. It avoids a contested hearing, where admissions in those hearings may be used in another court/jurisdiction, which may expose you to further criminal charges. It can also assist in supporting your criminal matter in a plea, as the court may look favourably upon you for not subjecting the complainant unnecessarily to cross-examination at a contested hearing.

However, respondents should also consider other implications of consenting to final orders. It is very difficult to vary an order and an application to do so requires leave of the Court, which may be granted only if the court is satisfied that there has been a change in circumstances since the family violence intervention order was made AND the change may justify a variation or revocation of the order.3

Moreover, where a Specialist Family Violence Court – Shepparton, Ballarat, Moorabbin, Heidelberg or Frankston issues the final order, the Magistrate must make an order requiring a counselling assessment.4 Failure to attend carries with it a fine of up to 10 penalty units, and non-attendance at a time and place specified in the order is considered a breach of the order.

Without seeking legal advice at the outset, clients are often found in breach of interim orders without knowing the full implications of their conduct.5 Get in touch with our office and speak to one of our expert lawyers who can guide you through this process, advise you of your options and help you reach an informed decision about how to move through your case.

[1] Noting however, that FVIOs can be made at any time before or after the commencement of proceedings for the offence (FVPA, s 155)
[2] Sentencing Advisory Council, Family Violence Intervention Orders and Safety Notices: Sentencing for Contravention (Monitoring Report, 2013) 16.
[3] FVPA, s 109.
[4] FVPA, s 129.
[4] DPP v Cope (a pseudonym) [2021] VMC 014.

Date Published: 16 March 2022

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