Interim Intervention Orders (IVOs) and the limits of the system

Felix Ralph, The Age, 23 February 2021
“Lawyers call for funding fix as courts face massive backlogs”

If you are reading this article there is a fair chance that an interim intervention order (IVO) has been or is about to be made against you. But what does this mean? An interim intervention order is an order granted by a magistrate that prevents certain activities, freedoms and behaviour. It can exclude you from the family home, prevent you from seeing your children or contacting the applicant for the interim IVO. This can have devastating practical and criminal consequences on people’s lives. These interim IVOs can be granted against you without you being present and if a magistrate is satisfied that it is required.  

The interim IVO stays in full force until either a magistrate removes it by agreement between the parties or the IVO proceeding is heard in court at a contested hearing. The difficulty with this is that due to the delays caused by an increased demand for these interim IVOs and due to COVID-19, a person subject to an interim IVO could be waiting many months (or years) to have their matter finalised and heard.  

Interim IVOs are effectively the same as a final intervention order and the penalties for breaching these orders can be severe. Due to strict bail laws, people who ordinarily wouldn’t be facing time in gaol, can be remanded until their case is finalised.  

This is why it is vital to have a lawyer present when the hearing first comes to court at the start of the case. This is called a first mention. It may well be that the matter can be negotiated by one of our lawyers to a withdrawal or to a less restrictive form of an intervention order. As criminal lawyers our job is to limit the potential liability of our clients to the fullest extent. Many people who are subject to IVOs do not know the system and consequences of breaching an IVO and it is very important that you receive this initial advice.  

Recently, Felix Ralph provided a comment to the The Age detailing the difficulties the criminal justice system is having with IVOs. The delays existed before COVID-19 however the pandemic has made them much worse. Due to these delays, in certain cases, it may be a superior course of action to consent to a limited order (either in duration or in clauses) rather than fully contesting the matter. This is because you could be subject to an interim IVO and therefore criminal liability for longer had it not been settled in the first place. Many people elect to contest the IVO without realising that the next time their case could go to court could be 6 to 9 months away. That is a long time to be subject to criminal consequences if there is an allegation of a breach. And it may be that after careful negotiation with the opposing side that a compromise can be reached early on in the case or parties can withdraw their allegations without involvement from the court.  Some cases will always require a contested hearing however it is important to receive the best advice so there are no surprises in your case. 

Please remember that all cases are different and that this article is a general comment only. You should not rely on this article as legal advice as this can be a complicated area of law. If you or someone you know is subject to an interim IVO you should contact Marshall Jovanovska Ralph Criminal Lawyers on (03) 9311 8500.