On this page:
- Getting an application and summons
- Getting an interim order
- Getting a warrant
- Your options
- Criminal records
- Will the order affect my job?
- What about my gun licence?
- Will I get a criminal record?
- Do I have to leave home?
- What does ‘no contact’ mean?
- Will I still be able to see my children?
- Other support
If an application for a family violence intervention order is made against you, the police will give you:
- a copy of the application, which will describe in detail what the applicant (person applying for an intervention order) says you have done
- a summons, which includes details about the court date.
At court you will be called ‘the respondent’ because you are responding to an application.
The police may also serve you with:
- a family violence safety notice
- an interim intervention order
- a warrant for your arrest
The police will arrest you if there is a warrant. You can ask to speak with a lawyer if you are taken into custody.
Do not abuse the police, even if you are angry about the application. It will not help the situation.
Getting an application and summons
The police will give you the application and summons in person. If they cannot locate you, the police may ask a magistrate to make an order to serve you in a different way (ie through another person or through social media).
The summons lists the details of the court hearing, including the date. The application explains why the applicant wants an intervention order. The applicant may be a person who believes they need protecting from you or it could be the police, a parent or guardian.
Getting an interim order
The police may give you an interim order with the application and summons. This means the applicant has seen a magistrate and the magistrate believes the person needs immediate protection from you until the court hearing. See How intervention orders work.
An interim order starts when the police serve (give) you a copy of the order. See When a family violence intervention order starts.
Once you get a copy of the interim order, you must follow the conditions, even if you plan to argue against the final order being made.
If you break the conditions of any intervention order, including an interim order, the police can arrest you and charge you with a criminal offence. See Breaking an intervention order.
Getting a warrant
If you have seriously threatened the safety of a person, the police can get a warrant to arrest you.
If you are arrested, the police may release you on bail if you agree to:
- the bail conditions, which are usually the same as the conditions in the application for an intervention order
- go to court on the date of the intervention order hearing.
You must follow all your bail conditions. If you break them, you can be arrested for breach of bail. A magistrate may then give you more conditions to restrict your behaviour. They may also remand you in custody (lock you up).
If you get a warrant, you must also go to court on the hearing day, whether you agree with the order being made or not. If you do not turn up, you:
- will lose any money paid as surety as part of your bail conditions
- can be charged with a criminal offence (failure to appear on bail is a serious offence and it can make it harder for you to get bail in the future)
- can be arrested and the police may keep you in custody until the next hearing
- may be ordered to pay court costs.
You need to go to court on the date on the summons or on your bail undertaking. Tell the registrar you are at court and whether you agree or disagree with the order. You can ask to speak with a duty lawyer at court.
An order can be made against you if you do not go to court.
You have a number of options for dealing with intervention orders at court.
You don’t get a criminal record if you have an intervention order taken out against you. 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.
Will the order affect my job?
An order may affect your job if it stops you going to places you need to work at, or if you work with or near your family member. There are options so talk to a lawyer if this may affect you.
An order may affect licenses to work as a security officer and other occupations where security clearance is required. If you require security clearance, for your work, it is important to get legal advice about this.
If you are found guilty of breaking an order you could get a criminal record. This may make it more difficult to get certain kinds of jobs or travel in the future.
What about my gun licence?
An order can ban you from having a gun for the length of the order plus five years and cancel any permits you have. The police can search for guns and other weapons, and remove any they find.
You can apply to the court to be declared a ‘non-prohibited person’ if you need a gun licence for a reason such as employment. The police will be notified of this application and will make a recommendation for the court to consider as part of the application.
Will I get a criminal record?
Having an order taken out against you is not the same as being charged with a crime. It is a civil process. This means it is not on the public record, but the police and the court will have a record.
However, the police must investigate, and there are serious consequences if you:
- break the conditions of the order
- act violently towards your family member or damage their property, whether there is an order or not.
These are crimes. If you are charged and found guilty, you will get a criminal record.
Do I have to leave home?
A magistrate can make a condition that says you 'must not go to or remain within 200 metres of the address of your home, or any other place the affected person lives, works or attends school/childcare'. This means that you might have to leave home. This is called an exclusion order. You can argue against this order being made or any other condition. Get legal help.
If there is an exclusion order you must stay away, or you will break the order. You do not lose your rights to the house or your things. You may also be able to return later, for example with the police, to get your things.
If you are under 18 the magistrate must also look at what housing and other support you will get before they make an exclusion order.
If you must leave your home you can get legal and other help, such as finding accommodation.
What does ‘no contact’ mean?
‘No contact’ means you must not have any contact at all with the protected person – in person, through another person, by phone, text message, fax, letter, email or any other form of communication.
Think about how others will see your behaviour. If your children are included on the order, repeatedly watching them from a distance when they are in a park or on the school grounds could be harassment. See Breaking an intervention order.
It’s no excuse to say that you did not mean to disobey a condition in the order.
You may still be able to have contact with the protected person if the intervention order says that:
- you may do anything that is permitted by a Family Law Act order, a child protection order or a written agreement about child arrangements
- you may negotiate child arrangements by letter, email or text message
- you may communicate with a protected person through a lawyer or mediator. Get legal help.
If you are allowed to have contact with the protected person for these reasons, it is very important that you do so in a way which is not violent or harassing. If you do anything which is harassing or intimidating while contacting the protected person about child arrangements, you may be charged with breaking the order
Will I still be able to see my children?
If the order affects you seeing your children, get legal help before you go to court. You have options.
It is the magistrate's job to make sure that any children are safe. The magistrate will always ask if your children have heard, seen or been exposed to any family violence. If they have, the magistrate may decide to include them on your family member’s order or make a separate order.
If there are already family law orders about children, an intervention order can have conditions that let you see your children according to the terms of the family law orders. However sometimes an intervention order can stop contact under a family law order. This is why it is important to get legal advice, which can help you decide what to do.
Intervention orders are serious. Get legal advice before you go to court.
Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.
We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au
Reviewed 12 April 2022