We depart from our usual Christchurch Earthquake theme to discuss protection orders. A summary of the main points of this post are:
- Protection Orders restrict the interaction a person can legally have with the protected person.
- You can apply for a protection order if you are in a close relationship with the other party or live in the same premises and have been subject to domestic violence.
- Domestic violence includes sexual and psychological abuse.
- A Judge will usually make a protection order on the day of application.
- You can also apply for an order that gives you sole occupation of the family home, or to furniture.
- The Courts and Police take a breach of a protection order very seriously. Anyone in breach will be arrested.
Protection Orders – in more detail
Domestic violence is never acceptable. If you or your family or someone that you know are subject to domestic violence it is important to act quickly. Protection orders are an important means of restricting any person who is subject to a protection order from being in a position to continue being abusive.
If you are in immediate danger call the Police on 111.
What is Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse. It includes:
i) Physical abuse;
ii) Sexual abuse; and
iii) Psychological abuse, including, but not limited to:
c. Damage to property; and
d. Threats of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or psychological abuse.
In relation to a child, domestic violence includes:
i) Causing or allowing the child to see or hear the physical, sexual, or psychological abuse of a person to whom the child is close to.
Who can apply for a protection order?
The following people can apply for a protection order:
i) The spouse or partner of the other person; or
ii) A family member of the other person; or
iii) A person who shares a household with the other person; or
iv) Anyone who has a close personal relationship with the other person.
What is a Protection Order?
A protection order is an order made by the court. The initial order will be temporary. If after three months no defence has been filed by the person subject to the order then the temporary order will automatically become a final order.
Anyone subject to a protection order must not:
i) Physically or sexually abuse the protected person; or
ii) Threaten to physically or sexually abuse the protected person; or
iii) Damage, or threaten to damage, property of the protected person; or
iv) Engage or threaten to engage in harassment or intimidation; or
v) Watch or loiter near any place that the protected person visits often (for example their home, work, place of education) without the protected persons consent; or
vi) Enter any building or land where the protected person resides without the protected person’s consent; or
vii) Make any contact with the protected person, whether by phone, text message or otherwise without the protected persons consent.
A protection order can also apply to the protected person’s children.
The other party must hand any firearms that they possess into police. They will also be ordered by the court to attend a stopping violence programme
A protection order does not mean that you can never have contact with the other party again. With your express consent they can contact you and even live in the same house. Numbers i) to iv) above will always stay in place, numbers v) to vii) will resume if you discontinue living together or inform the other party that you no longer wish to have any contact.
How to apply for a protection order
You should contact a lawyer to advise you as to whether a protection order is necessary and to help you apply. Your lawyer will also help you write an account of what has happened so that the Judge can make an informed decision.
You lawyer will discuss with you whether it would be best to apply for a protection order without giving the other party an opportunity to respond. Protection orders can be granted very quickly, usually on the same day that the application is made.
In some cases the Judge may give the person against whom the protection order is being made one or two days to tell their side of the story. In most cases however the protection order is made on the same day it is sent to the Judge without the other person’s knowledge.
House and furniture order
One of the fears that people subject to domestic violence have is that they will have nowhere to live if they apply for a protection order.
You can apply for a occupation order and/or a furniture order giving you sole access the family home and the furniture in the home. This is an option that your lawyer will discuss with you.
A protection order does not guarantee that the offending person will stop being violent. The courts and the police however take any breach of a protection order very seriously and will arrest any person who is in breach.
The maximum penalty for breaching a protection order is 6 months imprisonment or a $5000 fine. This increases for a second and third breach
The following organisations can be of assistance if you need general help:
- Shine 0508 744 633
- Are You Ok Information Line 0800 456 450
- Women’s Refuge 0800 REFUGE