Options for dealing with an intervention order

Options for dealing with an intervention order

Respondents to an intervention order have four options. You can:

  • agree to an intervention order being made
  • agree to an undertaking instead of an order
  • argue against the order
  • ignore the summons and not go to court.

Option 1: Agree to an intervention order being made

You can go to the court hearing and agree to the intervention order being made. This is called consent. It means that you agree to obey the conditions set out in the application. Conditions are rules that restrict how you behave.

You can agree to the conditions, even if you do not agree with what is said about you in the application. This is called ‘consenting without admission’. The court makes an order without deciding whether you did those things or not.

Agreeing to an intervention order does not give you a criminal record. You are not being charged with a crime. It is a civil matter, not a criminal offence.

However, if you break the conditions of an intervention order, it becomes a criminal matter. You can be charged by the police with a criminal offence. If you are found guilty of breaking an order, you could pay a heavy fine or go to jail.

If you are considering this option, you should get legal advice if:

  • the application has conditions about seeing your children
  • you disagree with any of the conditions, for example, one that stops you from living at home
  • you have any reason for having a gun, for example, you need one for work.

If you agree to an intervention order, you can still ask for family law orders about children and property. This can be complex so get legal advice.

Option 2: Agree to an undertaking instead of an order

Sometimes an applicant may accept an undertaking. An undertaking is a formal written promise to the person who needs protecting and to the magistrate that you will follow certain rules.

If you break the rules of an undertaking, you can't be charged by the police unless you have committed an offence.

You can only give an undertaking if the applicant agrees to accept it. The applicant does not have to accept an undertaking. It’s their choice.

If the police applied for the intervention order, they will run the matter at court. This means they will speak for the affected family member. The police are less likely to agree to an undertaking, so you may need to consider your other options.

If the applicant agrees to an undertaking, their application for an intervention order is withdrawn. However, this does not stop them from coming back to court and asking for an intervention order in the future.

Option 3: Argue against the order

If you don’t agree with the application, you can go to the court hearing and argue against the order or any of the conditions. Get legal advice before going to court.

You won’t get the chance to tell the magistrate your version of events on the first day you go to court. This is called the first mention date. You will need to go back to court for a contested hearing (intervention orders).

If you have an interim order against you, the magistrate will probably extend the order until the next court date.

The contested hearing will be at least 28 days after your first mention date. However, a magistrate will only set a date for the contested hearing, if both sides:

  • have had a chance to get a lawyer
  • are ready for the contested hearing
  • agree to the date of the contested hearing.

You need to arrange any witnesses who can support your story. They must have seen or heard something themselves, not just rely on what you or someone else has told them. You may need to send them a summons to get them to come to court. Ask the registrar about how to do this.

If you don’t agree with the intervention order, you will need to convince the magistrate that:

  • the claims made against you are false
  • you are not a future risk to the person needing protection.

Option 4: Ignore the summons and do not go to court

If you ignore the summons, the hearing can go ahead without you. You can’t delay the court hearing by not turning up. If the magistrate accepts that you have received the summons, they can make an order without hearing your side of the story.

The magistrate can also make decisions about contact with your children, even if the applicant did not include them in the complaint. See Family violence orders to protect children.

Even if you accept the intervention order, it is worth going to court to:

  • have your say about the conditions of the order, especially if you have children
  • make sure you understand the orders and what they mean so you do not break the conditions later on.

If you are not at court, the police will give you a copy of the intervention order. The order does not take effect until the police have served you with the order. See When an intervention order starts.