False accusations of violence are more common than you would expect! We see individuals regularly being victims of such accusations (commonly in domestic relationships) and as you can imagine, it’s not only daunting but also can be complicated at times, especially if you have committed no act of violence and the allegation is completely unjustified. These types of allegations can have a major affect on an individual’s life and depending on the outcome affect their future.

Being recognised as a common issue in a domestic relationship by many Magistrates, in a recent survey conducted by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), just over half the Magistrates surveyed reported that they dealt with ‘frivolous or vexatious’ APVOs occasionally. The results of the survey show that the most common types of false AVO’s are those where the matters involved are trivial and insignificant.



The meaning of a domestic relationship is defined in section 5 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 as:

Is or has been married to the other person, or been a de facto partner of that other person, or had an intimate personal relationship with the other person, whether or not the intimate relationship involves or has involved a relationship of a sexual nature, or is living or has lived in the same household as the other person, or is living or has lived as a long-term resident in the same residential facility as the other person or,has or has had a relationship involving his or her dependence on the ongoing paid or unpaid care of the other person or, is or has been a relative of the other person”.



An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is a legal order made to protect a Person in Need of Protection (PINOP) from the Defendant, the person whom the order is made against. There are two different AVOs available: domestic (ADVO) and personal (APVO). An ADVO protects individuals from a spouse, de facto partner, ex-partner, family member, carer or other person living in the same household. This essentially covers any relationship to the PINOP that is domestic in nature. An APVO protects individuals from anyone who they are not in a domestic or family relationship with. Both types of AVOs do the same thing: impose conditions on the Defendant. Three mandatory conditions the Defendant must comply with are: not to assault, harass or threaten the protected person, not to intimidate the protected person, and not to stalk the protected person.

AVO matters account for a significant number of cases dealt with by Local Courts across NSW. In 2013 more than 25,000 ADVO’s (Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders) and over 6,000 APVO’s (Apprehended Personal Violence Orders) were issued by those Courts.

To read more about AVO’s, click here to view one of our previous blogs.



As discussed above, false claims are surely not uncommon. There are many reasons why people falsely accuse another and take out an AVO against them. It may, for example:

  • Be out of anger and to get back at the other person; and/or
  • As a way of gaining an advantage over the other person.

If you are the person against whom the AVO has been taken out, one option that is open to you is to simply accept the terms of the AVO. The obvious advantage of this option is that it will cost you nothing in terms of potential legal costs. The alternative is defending yourself against it in Court if you claim that the PINOP is making false accusations against you.

If you have been served with an AVO and believe that it was done following a false claim, it is advisable that you contact a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. A good criminal defence lawyer will be able to explain to you the process involved in fighting an AVO order, take steps necessary to resolve the dispute with the PINOP, without having to go to a Hearing or, should the matter proceed to a Hearing, provide you with an effective defence against the AVO in Court.

Criminal defence lawyers dealing with false AVO allegations sometimes come across situations where there is little evidence (or none) to support the allegation of domestic violence, but Police have, despite that, made an AVO against the person.

In 2017, it was reported that a Sydney man, in his 40s, had been accused by his estranged wife of sexual intercourse without consent and assault occasioning actual bodily harm but was acquitted of the charges by a District Court jury. The man who battled for two years to clear his name of rape and assault allegations vowed to sue police for acting like “robots” and ignoring crucial evidence.

In some cases significant and sustained assaults are alleged by the PINOP, however, there are no marks or other injuries on the alleged victim, or where evidence at the scene of an incident is completely inconsistent with the complaint, or where the complainant’s statements are so inconsistent with one another that they cannot possibly be reconciled. There are even cases where police are in possession of CCTV footage that exonerates the defendant but fail to serve that crucial evidence in a timely manner. This is where an experienced criminal defence lawyer will be best able to assist you against a false allegation of violence.


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