The Process of Intervention Orders
(Applying For Intervention Orders)
There are a number of stages of an Intervention Order depending on whether the matter is contested and how quickly it is able to be resolved. It is important to have a good understanding of the process to ensure that the correct decisions are made with how the matter is to be dealt with; tactically there may be benefits to proceeding to a particular stage of the process however each individual’s case will depend on the circumstances and facts.
Application for an Intervention Order
The first stage of Applying for Intervention Order is for the Protected Person (or victim) to make an application to the court. An application can either be made by Victoria Police and can be a non-police application. 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.
If the applicant does not withdraw their application, and the Respondent does not consent to the application, then the matter will be listed at the court for a Directions Hearing. A Directions Hearing is where the court will want to get an idea about what exactly is in dispute, and whether the matter can settle. If it does not look like it will settle, the Magistrate will want to know how many witnesses each party is calling, and how long a Defended Hearing would take. If the matter does not settle at the Directions Hearing, it will be listed for a Contested Hearing.
A Contested Hearing is the last stage of an Intervention Order, and often the first time the Respondent is able to produce their own evidence. At a Contested Hearing, a Magistrate will listen to both sides. The Protected Person and the Respondent can both call witnesses, if necessary, or produce other evidence to prove that the allegations of family violence did or did not occur. At the end of the Contested Hearing, the Magistrate will decide whether or not a final Intervention Order should be made, what conditions should be included, and how long it should last for.
As Intervention Orders are civil in nature, the standard of proof (i.e. evidence needed) is lower than in criminal matters. The Magistrate does not need to believe ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that the violence occurred – only on a ‘balance of probabilities’ (i.e. that it is more likely than not the violence occurred.) If the Magistrate believes that the violence probably occurred, and it is likely to occur again, they must make a Final Intervention Order. Until the Magistrate makes their final decision, the Respondent can still consent to the Intervention Order. Many Intervention Orders settle during the Defended Hearing, particularly if strong evidence is given by either party.
Have you been served with an intervention order?
What to do:
Check the details of the court hearing including the date, time and location. Ensure that you do not miss this court date otherwise the court may determine the case in your absence, adjourn the case and issue a warrant or make an intervention order with respect to a child.
Understand who the intervention order is protecting. There may be a number of people listed including children (checked both Affected Family Members and Protected Persons).
The application will explain why the applicant is seeking an order against you. Start to think about whether you agree or disagree with the application.
If you have been served an interim intervention order, review the conditions of the order and ensure that you do not breach any of the conditions even if you disagree with them. You will have an opportunity at court to contest the order against you.
You should then contact our office for advice. We recommend that this occur prior to the first court hearing to ensure that you receive advice on the best course of action moving forward.