What You Need to Know If You’re Charged with Domestic Violence

Family Law, Lawyers in Brisbane Australia - Russo Lawyers

Have you recently been charged with domestic violence? Are you facing a domestic violence order but are unclear of what that even means? Have you breached a domestic violence order and are now needing legal advice on how to proceed in Domestic Violence Court?

Being charged with a crime brings with it many questions and unknowns; Russo Lawyers can provide you with answers and expectations. 

For nearly 50 years, the team at Russo Lawyers has been dedicated to providing clients in Queensland with high-quality representation and robust legal advice for a variety of charges related to Criminal and Domestic violence Law and other violations. Whether the best course of action is a plea deal or taking your case to family court to dispute the charges, you can count on the tenured team at Russo Lawyers to supply you with the legal advice that is always in your best interest. 

What is the definition of domestic violence?
In Queensland, domestic violence doesn’t have to be physical violence to be considered as such. It’s generally any kind of aggressive behaviour – which can be both physical and verbal – toward a family member that causes that family member to fear for their safety or well-being. This can include, but isn’t limited to, the following:

  • Abuse that is sexual in nature.

  • Abuse that is emotional in nature.

  • Abuse that is psychological in nature.

  • Behaviours designed to threaten.

  • Behaviours designed to intimidate.

  • Behaviours designed to coerce.

A classic example of emotional abuse may be persistently making insulting comments to a family member that are designed to belittle or disparage that individual. Threatening behaviour, meanwhile, could be entirely verbal; you might say that you’ll do something to cause that person harm but may never follow through. 

In short, from a legal perspective, domestic violence does not necessarily need to be physical violence to be classified as such. 

What makes a relationship ‘domestic’?
Domestic violence isn’t always related to spouses or the traditional idea of a nuclear family member, like a brother, child, sister or parent. If aggressive, threatening behaviours occur within informal care relationships (e.g. legal guardianship, primary caretaker for an elderly man or woman), those may also be regarded as domestic violence. 

When is it appropriate to hire a domestic violence lawyer?
Generally speaking, it’s best to get in touch with a domestic violence lawyer as soon as a domestic violence charge has been issued, regardless of the relevant relationship or de facto relationship. Whether you believe that you’re innocent of the charge or suspect you may be guilty in the eyes of the law, a domestic violence lawyer can provide you with a better understanding of what your options are and if contesting the charges in family court makes sense.

What is a domestic violence order and how does it affect you?
There are two ways to look at a domestic violence order, or DVO: What it is and what it does. In terms of what it is, a domestic violence order is a sheet of paper that is delivered to an individual who is accused of committing domestic violence. A magistrates court is the legal entity that issues it after someone has filled out a domestic violence application.

In terms of what it does, a domestic violence order specifies what an accused person must avoid doing while the domestic violence order is in effect. In no uncertain terms, it states that an individual must cut off all contact from the person who sought the domestic violence order for a specific period of time. It may not always be “all contact,” but rather certain types of interaction, like at the aggrieved person’s home, at their workplace or a location where both parties may frequent, such as a child’s school or daycare centre. 

The length of time in which domestic violence orders are in place can be wide ranging, but the timeline is usually dependent on its type, meaning whether it’s a standard protection order or a temporary protection order. With the former, a protection order tends to be for longer, typically sunsetting after five years. Temporary protection orders, on the other hand, are for briefer periods, which could be several weeks or months. Again, the Magistrates Court is the legal entity that decides what timeline is appropriate for domestic violence matters.

In addition to what not to do, a protection order also discusses what you must do. Usually, those instructions refer to when you must appear in court. It’s during your appearance that you can consent to the protection order, ask that it be set aside so that you can obtain legal advice on the best course of action or disagree with the protection order entirely. If you believe the protection order is without merit, then a follow-up court date will be established by the magistrates court so you can lay out the reasons why. 

What happens if you breach a domestic violence protection order?
While you may ultimately be absolved of domestic violence charges, it’s important to keep in mind that breaching a protection order is against the law. This means that if any of the conditions in the original order are violated, you may be sentenced to jail solely for breaching the protection order alone. In short, good behaviour matters, even if you believe the protection order was founded on false pretences. 

Domestic violence proceedings can be confusing and challenging. Instead of going it alone, turn to Russo Lawyers for legal advice that you can trust. We’ve been working in criminal law for nearly half a century and can provide you with the representation you can rely on in your time of need. Contact us today to learn more.