Family violence is defined as violent, threatening or other behaviour that coerces or controls another family member or causes them to be fearful. Some examples of behaviour that constitutes family violence are:
- An assault
- A sexual assault or other sexually abusive behaviour
- Repeated derogatory taunts
- Intentionally damaging property
- Unreasonably controlling or denying a family member access to finances or financial support
- Depriving a family member of their liberty
The Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) is actually a new type of restraining order that was introduced in Western Australia fairly recently on 1 July 2017. A FVRO is governed under the Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA) which also offers Violence Restraining Orders (“VRO”) and Misconduct Restraining Orders to help victims of domestic violence, other violence and nuisance, obtain protection orders from the Court.
Before 1 July 2017 in Western Australia, a person who experiences violence by another person, whether or not they were related, could apply to the Magistrates Court for a protection order being a VRO. That is no longer the case. If a person experiences acts of abuse by a family member then that person can apply for a FVRO. If the parties are not related such as having a relationship of colleagues, neighbours or friends then a person who is experiencing acts of abuse can apply for a VRO. Essentially, FVROs are reserved for parties that are related or family members.
The maximum penalty for an offence of breaching a Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO), Violence Restraining Order (VRO) or Police Order is 2 years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. The actual penalty that will be imposed will depend on all the circumstances of the case. An offence is made more serious if the offender exposed a child family member to family violence when they breached the restraining order.
If the person has previously breached an FVRO, VRO or Police Order more than once in the last 2 years, they might be treated as a repeat offender. In that case, the court must impose a sentence that includes a term of suspended or immediate imprisonment, unless it would be clearly unjust to do so. In situations involving family violence, the offender might ask to participate in counselling through a family violence program before they are sentenced by the court. The maximum penalty for breaching an MRO is a $1,000 fine.
We at AH2 Legal frequently get contacted by Clients who are concerned about going to Court relating to a FVRO or VRO. We have helped countless Clients with their restraining order matters in Court and continue to assist many people in their applications or responses to such matters.
If you are facing any family or relationship issues and would like more information about how we can help, please feel free to call us at 08 6161 0243 to discuss any questions you might have.