20 Aug The stages of an Intervention Order (Before Contesting the matter)
Application for an Intervention Order
The first stage of an Intervention Order is for the Protected Person (or victim) to make an application to the court. There are 2 types of Intervention Order applications – police applications, and non-police applications. A police application occurs when the Protected Person reports the allegations of family violence to a police officer, and that police officer decides that an Intervention Order is required to protect them. A non-police application is where the Protected Person applies directly to the court themselves. Once the application form is completed, the applicant (whether a police officer or the Protected Person) must then swear the contents are true. The application will then be heard by a Magistrate. The Magistrate will listen to the allegations, and decide whether or not the Protected Person needs an order immediately. If the Magistrate agrees that the Protected Person is in danger and needs protection immediately, they can grant an Interim Intervention Order. An Interim Intervention Order is a ‘short-term’ order that lasts until the next court date. At this point, the Respondent is usually not aware of the proceedings at all.
Whether an interim order is granted or not, the application is then given a court date (usually, a few weeks or months away). This is called a Mention. The police will then need to serve the Respondent with a copy of the application and, if made, the interim order. This is the first time most people find out that an order has been made against them. At the next court date, once the Respondent has been served, they can choose whether they agree with the order being made or not. A Respondent can:
- Consent to the order;
- Consent to an undertaking; or
- Contest the order being made.
The Respondent can choose these options at any time between the first mention and the final hearing. There can be many different mention dates. Sometimes, there is just one mention and the matter is then finalised. Sometimes, an Intervention Order matter may have up to 5 or 6 ‘mentions’ before progressing to the next stage.
Consenting to an Order
The Respondent can agree to the Intervention Order being made. Usually, this is done without admissions, which means the Respondent denies that the allegations in the application occurred (e.g. they deny that they committed family violence). Most Respondents consent to an Intervention Order being made without admissions. This is for many reasons, including:
- The Intervention Order process is long, time-consuming and often expensive. Many Respondents do not want to spend the time and money contesting the order.
- There may be strong evidence to support the allegations in the application, and no point in contesting it.
- Often, an Intervention Order is made in the context of the Protected Person and the Respondent not wanting to see one another. If the Respondent has no desire to communicate with or see, the Protected Person anyway, then they do not mind an order being made.
- An Intervention Order is not a criminal offence (as detailed below) and does not give the Respondent a criminal record.
Consenting to an Undertaking
If the Protected Person and the Respondent both agree (and the police, if the application was made by them), then the Respondent can consent to an Undertaking. An Undertaking is not an order. An Undertaking is a promise not to breach certain conditions (usually the same conditions as an Intervention Order). If an Undertaking is made, the Intervention Order application is withdrawn. If the Respondent breaches the Undertaking, the Protected Person can ask the court to reinstate the Intervention Order application they have withdrawn. Breaching an Undertaking is not a criminal offence.