Domestic violence orders (or “DVOs”) are court orders which require a person to comply with certain conditions. There will always be two standard conditions that are included in a DVO and they are:
- The ‘respondent’ must be of good behaviour towards any of the persons named in the DVO; and
- He or she must not commit an act of associated domestic violence towards any of the named persons and must not expose any named children to domestic violence.
Put simply, this means that the respondent must not commit any acts which could be seen as aggressive, threatening, intimidating etc towards anyone named in a domestic violence order. You can read more about domestic violence orders.
Additional No Contact Conditions
In some cases, a court can include extra conditions and one of the most common conditions that is included is a ‘no contact’ condition. This means that the respondent cannot contact any of the persons named in the DVO by any direct or indirect methods.
Most people would understand that this condition prevents them from visiting a person at their home or place of work and, of course, from following that person around. However many people don’t realise that this condition also includes other ways of contacting that person, such as by sending text messages.
This means that if you are the respondent in a DVO and you send a text message to anyone named in the order, you might be committing an offence. The content of the message is irrelevant, so the text message could be as innocent as asking your partner to wish your child a happy birthday.
Responding to Text Messages
If you are subject to a no contact condition, it also means that you cannot respond to any text messages that you receive from anyone named in the DVO. Unfortunately, many people fall into this trap without even realising that they are doing anything wrong.
For example, a wife (who is a named person in the DVO) may send her husband (the respondent) a text message saying, “I’m really sorry about everything that has happened. Let’s try to work this out without the courts”. If the husband responds even with a simply message such as “okay“, he will have breached the no contact condition and therefore will have also breached the DVO. This will result in him being charged with a criminal offence and being sentenced in the magistrates court.
What if I Receive a Text Message First?
If you are the respondent in a DVO with a no contact condition and you receive a text message from a named person, do not respond. Although it may be tempting, there is just too much risk. Instead, you should contact your lawyer who can make a note on their file that you received the text message but that you did not respond. Alternatively, you should make your own record of each text message you receive so that if there is ever any doubt, you can refer to your notes as proof that you didn’t respond.
If you have already been charged with an offence and you need a lawyer to represent you, contact us now to discuss your options.