What Is a Domestic Violence Offence in South Australia?
Contravention of an intervention order can be punished by imprisonment
Domestic violence is the use of violence or intimidation to coerce, dominate, or control a spouse, domestic partner, or family member. It can be punished as an assault or, if injury is inflicted, in a prosecution for causing harm.
An offence that is more specific to domestic violence is “contravention of an intervention order.” You should talk to a lawyer about the potentially serious consequences of that offence if you are charged with it.
The Magistrate’s Court of South Australia has the power to issue intervention orders. Although they are commonly issued to protect one spouse or domestic partner from abuse by the other, they can be issued to protect girlfriends or boyfriends, co-workers, or any other person who has a reasonable fear of being abused.
An intervention order can be entered whenever it is reasonable to suspect that the accused will, without intervention, commit an act of abuse against the protected person. Acts of abuse include:
- Causing physical injury
- Causing emotional or psychological harm
- An unreasonable denial of financial, social, or personal autonomy
“Emotional or psychological harm” does not include causing another person or feel ordinary or trivial distress, but it does include the infliction of mental illness, serious emotional distress, shock, and fear.
An intervention order directs the accused not to commit acts of abuse against the person named in the order. It can also impose specific restrictions on the accused, such as ordering the accused to:
- have no contact with the named person
- stay away from that person’s residence, workplace, or other place frequented by the person
- not come within a specified distance of that person
- refrain from harassing or intimidating the person
- refrain from taunting or stalking the person
- refrain from leaving messages or comments about the person on social networking sites
- return the person’s property
- surrender weapons
- participate in an intervention program
The contravention of an intervention order is an offence under section 31 of the Intervention Orders (Protection of Abuse) Act. “Contravention” means disobeying the order or any of its requirements.
If the contravention involves failing to attend a required intervention program, the offence is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,250. If the contravention involves disobedience of any other requirement of the order, it is punishable by imprisonment of up to 2 years.
To avoid the possibility of being charged with contravention of an intervention order, it is wise to go to court to contest the issuance of the intervention order. A lawyer can help you do that.
If you are charged with contravention, most defences center on disputing the evidence that you disobeyed the order. You might also have a defence if the order is ambiguous and failed to put you on notice that your alleged conduct violated the order. What constitutes “harassment,” for instance, is often a matter of opinion. To determine your best defence to the charge, you should consult a lawyer.