A Violence Restraining Order (VRO) is a special court order that can be applied for by a person who fears that their partner or ex-partner will be violent towards them. If you have had a VRO served to you, you are known as the respondent and your ex-partner is known as the Applicant. Criminal lawyers will tell you that if you don’t obey the instructions in the VRO you can face gaol time.
If you have been in some way violent to your partner, or have intimidated them in some way, or damaged property belonging to them, then they have the right to apply for a VRO against you. This will be served (given to) on you by the police and is in force from that time, usually for a period of two years or longer.
It is essential that you read the terms of the VRO so that you become familiar with them and don’t forget what you have to do. This will usually be to not approach your ex, not speak to them and not to contact them in any way including by mail, email or text message. It is extremely important to take care where you go so that you don’t accidentally contravene the terms.
For instance, if there is a club or hotel where your ex is likely to go, or a cafe near your home or their workplace where you might have once gone together, it is best to avoid those places and find somewhere else to hang out. Breaching the terms of a VRO is considered a crime and you don’t want to be convicted. You may have to go to gaol or pay a fine.
When you receive a VRO that you think is unnecessary you have 21 days in which to object. You will need to send a notice to the court for this to happen. A criminal lawyer will be able to help you with this if you need help. If you don’t object in this way, the VRO will become final and last for 2 years or the term mentioned in the details.
If you could not object within the time limit for some reason and want to do so after the 21 days, the final order can still be set aside, depending on the circumstances. You’ll have to apply to the court for another hearing and give a reason why you didn’t object within the time limit. The court must decide if your reason is valid. For instance, if you did not go to the previous court hearing due to illness, or not knowing it was on.
If another hearing is scheduled and you don’t attend, and if the court is satisfied that you knew about the hearing, then your application to have the VRO removed or the terms changed will be dismissed.