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Contravene Family Violence Safety Notice

– section 37 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008

The Police will charge a person with Contravening a Family Violence Safety Notice contrary to section 37 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) if he/she is served with a Family Violence Safety Notice and does not comply with any of its conditions.As with any Court order, it is important that a respondent of a Family Violence Safety notice understands and complies with the conditions.
Elements of the offence
As this is a criminal offence, the Prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused has been served with a Family Violence Safety Notice;
  2. The conditions of the Family Violence Safety Notice have been explained to the Respondent; and
  3. The accused failed to comply with a condition of the Family Violence Safety Notice.
Examples of Contravene Family Violence Safety Notice
  • A person is subject to a family violence safety notice prohibiting them from destroying property belonging to the protected person and he/she does not comply with this condition.
  • A person is subject to a family violence safety notice prohibiting them from committing family violence against the protected person and he/she does not comply with this condition.
Legislation
The offence of Contravene family violence safety notice is governed by section 37 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008.
 
The following is a list of defences available to a person charged with Contravening a Family Safety Notice:

  • Lack of intent
  • Impossibility
  • Factual error
  • The Family Safety Notice was not served
  • The conditions of the Family Safety Notice were not explained to you
It is not a defence to this offence to say that the offence occurred outside of Victoria if the protected person was in Victoria when the offending conduct occurred. For example, the Respondent is still liable if the accused is:

  1. Served with a Family Violence Safety Notice; and
  2. The conditions of the Family Violence Safety Notice have been explained to the accused; and
  3. The accused breaches a condition of the Family Violence Safety Notice by threatening the protected person over the phone; and
  4. The accused was in Sydney at the time of the call and the protected person was in Victoria.
Questions in cases like this
  • Were you served with a Family Violence Safety Notice?
  • Were the conditions of the Family Violence Safety Notice explained to you?
  • Did your conduct constitute family violence?

This offence carries a maximum fine of 240 penalty units (a fine of around $38,640) or 2 years imprisonment, or both.
 
Sentencing in the higher courts
From 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2016, the higher courts of Victoria handled a total of 16 charges of Contravene Family Violence Safety Notice. Majority of these charges resulted in a gaol term (87.5%) while the rest (12.5%) were sentenced to a Community Correction Order.

Of those who were sentenced to prison, 57.1% received a term of 0 < 1 year while 21.4% received 1 < 2 years. The latter was the longest prison term imposed during the given period.1

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts
In the Magistrates’ Courts, a total of 1,098 cases involving the offence of Contravene Family Violence Safety Notice were heard from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. The penalties imposed vary and are as follows:

  • Fine (27.8%)
  • Community Correction Order (24.9%)
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal (24.6%)
  • Imprisonment (17.8%)
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence (4.1%)
  • Partially Suspended Sentence (0.6%)
  • Youth Justice Centre Order (0.2%)
  • Other (0.1%)
The highest amount of fine imposed during the period was $5,000< $10,000 (0.3% for aggregate and 0.0% for non-aggregate). However majority of those who received a financial penalty were faced with an amount of $500 < $1,000 (34.6% for aggregate and 15.8% for non-aggregate).

The longest prison term imposed was 24 < 36 months (1.0% of those who were sentenced to prison). But majority received < 3 months (43.6%).2

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.3


[1] SACStat Higher Courts – Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) : s 37(2) – contravene family violence safety notice < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/higher_courts/HC_08_52_37_2.html >
[2] SAC Statistics – Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) : s 37(2) – contravene family violence safety notice < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/08_52_37_2.html >
[3] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence >