It is distressing when you find yourself in a situation where you are a victim of violence or are made to fear for your safety. However, it is unimaginably awful when you know and cares about the person causing you the pain.
Western Australia has ways for you to protect yourself from those who try to harm or intimidate you. The Restraining Orders Act 1997 created two types of restraining orders.
- Violence Restraining Orders (VROs)
- Misconduct Restraining Orders (MROs)
While both restraining orders are helpful, they serve different purposes and apply to different situations.
Violence Restraining Order Act WA
In Western Australia, there are two types of Violence Restraining Orders.
- The Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) – If the person who is abusing, threatening, coercing, or otherwise inflicting fear is part of a married or de facto couple, parties in an intimate personal relationship, or another family member, the FVRO is the correct restraining order.
- The Violence Restraining Order (VRO) – If the person who is violent or threatening violence against you, coerces you, or acts in a way to make you fear for your wellbeing, is not a family member, you should seek a VRO.
Misconduct Restraining Order WA (MVO)
Suppose the person you want a restraining order against has not physically harmed you but has acted in a way that makes you feel intimidated, causes damage to your property, or involves a breach of the peace. In that case, the MVO is the correct type of restraining order. When applying for an MVO, remember that the Court must be convinced an MVO is necessary.
How to Get a Restraining Order in Western Australia?
To get a restraining order in WA, you need to apply for it personally. Typically, the Court tries to expedite the hearing of restraining orders. However, if there is a delay in getting a court date and you feel you are in imminent danger, contact the police. The police can issue you a temporary Police Order which will serve as a restraining order for up to 72 hours.
Next Steps in Obtaining a Restraining Order
You will give sworn testimony of the facts surrounding your need for a restraining order at your court appearance. This hearing takes place in a closed courtroom and is an ex parte hearing, meaning the other party is not present.
The Court can choose to move forward by granting an Interim Violence Restraining Order. After the order is issued, the police will notify the other party (the respondent) of the order. The respondent has 21 days to decide to object to the order. If the respondent chooses to object, the date and time for a trial will be given.
The trial for a WA restraining order is formal. Both parties can have lawyers present, evidence will be presented and examined, and the lawyers can call and cross-examine witnesses. After the Court has heard the evidence, the presiding judge can choose to dismiss the restraining order application or grant a final restraining order.
Restraining Orders in WA: Frequently Asked Questions
- How Long Does a Restraining Order Last?
Unless a specified date appears on the order, restraining orders usually expire two years from their issue date.
- Is a Restraining Order a Criminal Offence?
Having a restraining order taken against you is not a criminal offence. However, breaching a restraining order is a criminal offence that carries serious consequences, including hefty fines and jail time.
- Who Can Apply for a Restraining Order?
Any person at least 18 years old can make an application for a restraining order. If a child needs protection provided by a restraining order, their parent or guardian can apply.
- Can I apply for a Restraining Order if I Have Not Experienced Physical Violence?
You do not need to wait to become the victim of an act of physical violence to apply for a restraining order. Beyond physical violence and assaults, behaviours such as property damage, threats and stalking are reasons to apply for a restraining order.
- What Should I Do if I Am Served a Restraining Order?
You should be sure to abide by the restrictions outlined in the restraining order. You should NOT attempt to contact the person who filed the order against you. Doing so is a breach of the order. Breaching a restraining order is a criminal offence punishable by fines, jail time, or both.
Contact legal representation to assist you going forward. Having a lawyer is not compulsory, but it is generally unwise to go into legal arenas unaccompanied.
Do not ignore the restraining order. You have a small window (21 days) to respond, and the Court will strictly enforce the limit. If you fail to respond, the order will become final and be in force for two years. Once a restraining order is final, it is difficult to amend.
When you are in a situation involving either a Violence Restraining Order or a Misconduct Restraining Order, it is easy to become confused regarding the details. If you need to learn more about restraining orders or the Restraining Order Act WA, please reach out to WN Legal. Our lawyers and staff have extensive experience handling restraining orders and breach of violence restraining orders in WA, and we can help you as well.
The material presented in this post is for informational use only. It does not constitute binding legal advice and should not be a replacement for a consultation with a legal professional