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What You Need to Know About Violence Restraining Order

A violence restraining order (VRO) applies to persons who are experiencing violence in a domestic or family relationship. The VRO restrains a person who is committing or likely to commit violence against the applicant, the applicant’s child or a child over whom the applicant is legally responsible. The application may be filed in person or over the phone.

The application for VRO is filed with the Magistrates Court by the victim, the parent or guardian of the applicant who is below 18 years old, a lawyer, child welfare officer, and a police officer. The acts sought to be restrained may be:

  • Physical injuries or threats;
  • Intimidation, harassment or stalking;
  • Damages to property; and
  • Provocation.

The court will make the VRO suitable to the circumstances of the applicant’s life. So it may be that the court will also include specific instructions like the respondent should not be sending text messages, should not be in the same premises as the applicant, or prohibit possession of a firearm.

Usually the court will conduct an interim hearing with only the applicant in attendance. The applicant will have to justify his application for a VRO.  Evidence may be given orally or in writing which is by affidavit. The applicant may submit affidavit of witnesses during the interim hearing. Then the magistrate will either:

  • Grant an interim VRO;
  • Deny the application for lack of genuine basis; or
  • Adjourn until the respondent is summoned to attend the interim hearing after which a decision will be rendered.

An interim VRO will be personally served by the police to the respondent which will also be the time that the VRO becomes effective. From that time on, respondent must obey the order otherwise he will be penalized for the breach.

Within 21 days the respondent must signify his objection to the interim VRO through written notice to the court. Upon receipt of the notice the court will schedule a hearing to hear the side of the respondent. If the respondent does not file a written objection the court will issue a final VRO which will stay in force for up to 2 years.

An applicant for a VRO must inform the court if there are existing orders that concerns the same parties. Family court orders and contact orders will prevail over a VRO. This is why it is important to be upfront with the magistrate court because a VRO can be made in such a way that it will not conflict with an existing family or contact order.

The applicant, the respondent or both may move to cancel or modify the VRO. However, if it is the respondent who is asking for a cancellation or modification a hearing will be conducted by the court.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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