Is Breaching A Court Order A Criminal Offense? (Australia)

Is Breaching A Court Order A Criminal Offense?A court order is any order issued by the court that sets out someone’s rights and responsibilities under the law. Courts use orders to administer justice across virtually every type of case, from civil law to criminal proceedings. Court orders are treated as law—which means that violating a court order is a violation of the law. In some cases, breaching a court order can result in criminal penalties.

You are required to comply with court orders. Failing to comply with court orders can be a crime and result in severe penalties. Understanding the implications of breaching court orders is crucial. If you're involved in such a situation, seeking advice from a criminal defence lawyer in Melbourne can provide clarity and guidance on how to navigate these legal challenges.

Breaching A Court Order

Breaching a court order essentially means failing to follow a court order. The term “breaching a court order” usually applies to certain types of orders.

  • Bail Orders. A bail order allows someone to be released from prison under certain conditions. If those conditions are violated, then that is usually a breach of court order. Bail might be revoked, or you may face additional charges for the bail violation.
  • Intervention Orders. An intervention order often arises in situations involving domestic violence, for example if someone is threatening to kill their partner. These orders are issued to protect individuals. They include Family Violence Orders and Personal Safety Intervention Orders.
  • Community Corrections Orders. This type of order includes an order to perform certain tasks (such as community service) instead of serving jail time. The Community Correction Order can sometimes be revoked, resulting in the imposition of the jail time that you were avoiding with the original order.
  • Orders to Pay Fines. An order to pay a fine can arise out of a wide variety of situations, from traffic tickets to much more serious crimes. Orders to pay fines can include payment in full or in instalments over time.

Breaching a court order on any of these issues can result in fines and jail time. The penalty will depend on how serious the breach may be.

Contempt Of Court

Contempt of court is a more serious type of breach of a court order. Contempt of court is a separate charge for failing to follow a court order.

The elements of a contempt of court charge include:

  • An order was made against you or involving you by the court;
  • The terms of the order were clear and unambiguous;
  • The order was served upon you;
  • You had knowledge of the order; and
  • You breached the terms of the order.

There is no maximum penalty for contempt of court, but such a charge will often include fines and jail time.

Breaching A Family Court Order

Breaching an Intervention Order or Family Court Order is a serious offence. Depending on the severity of the breach, it can result in jail time of up to two years. For serious cases deemed “persistent” or “aggravated,” that time period can increase to five years.

If a conviction for a family court order results, it can have an effect on general employment, checks related to working with children in the future, whether you can possess a firearm, and more. Convictions for some breaches in this category remain on your record for up to ten years, and you may need to petition the court to have the record removed or spent.

Violations of Family Court orders can also impact family law proceedings, including child custody and visitation arrangements. As a result, these charges should be taken seriously. You may want to involve a criminal defence lawyer if you are dealing with charges related to breaching a family court order.

Family Court Orders, especially those related to child custody and visitation, may also intersect with issues around the 'age of consent'. In cases where there are concerns about a minor's interactions with adults, the court can issue orders to ensure that age of consent laws are respected, thereby protecting the minor from potential exploitation.

How To Report A Breach Of A Court Order

You generally report a breach of any court order to the police. You can also immediately bring the breach to the attention of the court by filing a request for sanctions or a contempt of court charge. However, reporting to the police is generally a good first step where health and safety are concerned.

Keeping a diary of events that sets out dates and times of any breaches can be very helpful. No breach is trivial, so having information regarding each breach can be helpful in the future, especially in family court. Further, when the police take a breach of court order report, they will ask for a signed statement about the breach. Having these details can be very helpful to include in your statement. The police will investigate the report and then determine whether to lay criminal charges for the breach.

Conclusion

Breaching a court order can be a criminal offence. You should take court orders seriously and make every effort to comply with an order that affects you or your family. If you have been accused of violating a court order or you need to deal with a violation of a court by someone else, having a criminal defence lawyer may be very helpful. Contact our team to learn more about how we can help.

Resources and Further Reading

  1. https://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/breaking-intervention-order
  2. https://www.victimsofcrime.vic.gov.au/the-crime/words-used-in-the-justice-system
June Duncan

June Duncan

June has been writing about legal matters for law firms for over a decade. She is a licensed lawyer and currently practices law full-time. She writes in her spare time because she enjoys helping others decode the complexities of legal jargon so they can understand and assert their legal rights.

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