In Victoria, Breach of an Intervention Order is found in section 123 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008. It is a criminal offence committed by a person who fails to comply with the terms of an intervention order (IVO) previously imposed against them.
Have you been accused of Breach of an Intervention Order?
If you have, you must speak to an experienced breaching lawyer before you speak with the police. Allegations of breaches of intervention orders are taken seriously by the police and courts and depending on the surrounding circumstances, can lead to the police making an application to have you remanded. The police normally act swiftly with these sorts of allegations. In some circumstances, it is worth preparing for a bail application.
If a protected person listed on an intervention order makes a complaint to police that you breached conditions of the order, the police will contact you to interview you about the allegations. What you say in the interview could impact how your matter proceeds. The police may not have anything to prove the allegation, so it is important you do not say anything which can fill the gaps in their investigation.
Whilst an intervention order is a civil order, breaching an IVO is a criminal charge. You should contact one of our lawyers who are experienced in defending breaching charges before the police interview.
Pleading Not Guilty
Some breaches of intervention orders are easy to prove (for example sending a text message when communication is not allowed). Some come down to word on word. If you wish to contest a charge of breach of intervention order, it is important that you understand your options. Our lawyers appreciate the existing tension and stress in the context of IVOs between people and are experienced in defending these allegations.
Our lawyers will look at the brief of evidence and request any outstanding disclosure material so you know the strength of the case against you. We consider important factors such as:
- How do the police allege the breach happened?
- What evidence do the police have to support the allegations?
- Is there any evidence which needs to be preserved?
- Are there any witnesses which police have not spoken to who may shed light on the allegations?
We appreciate that it can be difficult to comply with an intervention order and people commonly breach them.
Perhaps the protected person encouraged contact?
Maybe you misunderstood the terms of the Intervention Order?
Our lawyers know that there is context which needs to be carefully explained to the court. We can identify why you breached the conditions and put it into context for the court to understand.
If you have been charged with breaching an intervention order, you need clear advice on the best possible outcome and how to be prepared for your plea hearing to achieve the best possible result. Our lawyers will direct you to complete a men’s behaviour change course, assist you to gather character references or direct you to attend specific counselling.
Sentencing in the higher courts of Victoria
There were a total of 236 charges of contravene a family violence intervention order that were heard the VIC higher courts from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2022. Majority of these charges resulted in imprisonment (194 or 82.2%) with less than 1 year as the most commonly imposed term. The longest period was 1 < 2 years.
Other sentences imposed were fine (17 or 7.2%), Community Correction Order (15 or 6.4%), Youth Justice Centre Order (1 or 0.4%), and other forms of penalties (9 or 3.8%).
Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria
At the Magistrates’ Courts, 24,031 charges of contravene a family violence intervention order were heard from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2021. Majority of the charges also resulted in imprisonment (7,074 or 29.4%) which were mostly for a period of < 3 months. The longest prison term imposed was 12 < 18 months.
Other sentences imposed were adjourned undertaking (5,841 or 24.3%), fine (5,588 or 23.3%), Community Correction Order (4,794 or 19.9%), discharge/dismissal (704 or 2.9%), and other forms of penalties (30 or 0.1%).
Which court will the case be heard in?
Breach of an Intervention Order is a summary charge, which means that it is usually heard in the Magistrates’ Court.
Examples of Breach of an Intervention Order
- A person texts their ex-partner after receiving an Intervention Order that prohibits texting the ex-partner.
- A person comes within 100 metres of their ex-partner’s house in breach of an Intervention Order.
- A person calls their ex-partner to arrange time with their daughter. An Intervention Order states that the person may not call their ex-partner.
Our client was charged with Breach of an Intervention Order by contacting their ex-partner on a number of occasions. We made detailed submissions about our client’s personal history including alcohol issues which had contributed to the offending. Our client agreed to begin treatment for his issues. The Magistrate imposed a good behaviour bond and a small payment to the court fund. No conviction was entered against him.
What is the legal definition of Breach of an Intervention Order?
Legally, Breach of an Intervention Order is when someone does not follow the terms of an active Intervention Order.
The section that covers this offence is section 123 of the Family Violence Protection Act.
Elements of the offence
A person may be found guilty of this offence if the following elements are proven in court:
- A family violence intervention order has been made against the accused; and
- The accused has been served with a copy of the order; or
- An explanation of the order was given to the accused in accordance with section 57(1) or 96(1) of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008; and
- The accused contravened the order.
- A parenting plan has been implemented and is recognized by the family violence intervention order and one of the requirements in the plan has been contravened.
“Have you been charged with breaching an intervention order?”
- Someone didn’t know about the Intervention Order.
- A person had an honest and reasonable belief that they had not Breached the Intervention Order.
- Another person was responsible for the activity.
There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.
Questions in cases like this
- When are you alleged to have breached the order?
- In what way?
- Did the parenting plan allow for changes if communicated?
- Was there adequate communication between those involved?
Sometimes doing something that seems reasonable in the circumstances can represent a breach of an order (e.g. dropping off clothes). Even if it feels ridiculous, a complaint can be made and police may become involved. It is very important that every condition of an intervention order is followed with total vigilance to avoid charges being laid.
Maximum penalty for section 123 of the Family Violence Protection Act
The maximum penalty for Breach of an Intervention Order (s123 of the Family Violence Protection Act) is imprisonment for 2 years or a fine of 240 penalty units ($37,310.40), or both.
Other Important Resources
- SACStat Higher Courts – Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic): s 123(2) – contravene family violence intervention order (interim/final)
- SAC Statistics – Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) : s 123(2) – contravene family violence intervention order
- VCC summaries – Breach of an Intervention Order: Sentencing decisions from 1 January 2016 to 31 August 2016
- Vic Sentencing Manual: 2008 Report on Intervention Orders
- Victorian Legal Aid: Breach of an Intervention Order