If a neighbour is intimidating or harassing you, or causing you to fear for your safety or the safety of your family or your property, you can apply to a court for an apprehended personal violence order (APVO) under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (Part 5 Apprehended personal violence orders).
Under this Act there are two types of apprehended violence order (AVO):
- apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO)
- apprehended personal violence order (APVO).
An APVO is the order suitable for neighbours. An ADVO is suitable for people in a domestic relationship, for example a partner, child or relative.
To apply for an APVO you can contact the police and in some circumstances they may apply for the order on your behalf. Or you can go to the Local Court for help with making your own application (Part 10, Divisions 2 & 3). Legal Aid is generally not available for making an APVO application.
An interim (temporary) order can be obtained that takes effect when the defendant is served with a copy of the order and remains in force until the matter is heard by the court (Part 6 Interim court orders). If no violence is involved, the court at any time can refer the parties to mediation.
At court, if the application is successful a final order will be made. This final order will have effect for the period of time specified in the order or, if not specified, it will last for 12 months (section 79). During this time, if circumstances change, either party may apply to have the order varied or revoked (sections 72-75).
An APVO can contain various conditions that suit your individual circumstances to ensure your safety and protection (Part 8 Content and effect of apprehended violence orders). For example it can prohibit the defendant from contacting you or coming to your home or damaging your property. Other people that may be affected, for example members of your family, can also be added to the order for their protection (section 18).
If your application for an APVO is unsuccessful and the court considers it is frivolous or vexatious, you may be ordered to pay the other party’s court costs.
Having an APVO made against you does not result in a criminal record unless the order is breached. If you breach an APVO you may be arrested and charged with a criminal offence and fined up to $5500 or, if violence is involved, you may be imprisoned for up to two years (section 14).