Arguing your case
The Court will usually ask the applicant to present their case first. This will either be the police if they made the application on your behalf, or you if you made the application.
The Court may allow you time to:
- outline your case
- point out evidence that supports your case
- tell the Court which witnesses you will call
- point out any parts of the other party's witness statements (if any) and evidence that you disagree with or dispute.
If the Court doesn't allow you time to do this, they will simply direct you to enter the witness box and start with your evidence.
When you give evidence, including by recording, the courtroom will be closed.
You may also be able to give evidence in other ways such as by audio visual link (AVL) or from another room.
You are entitled to have a support person present when you are giving evidence. This can be a friend or family member, a volunteer from a support service, a professional counsellor, or another person. It cannot be someone who is going to give evidence in your case.
Oath or affirmation
You may have to stand next to the witness box and make an:
- oath (religious promise), or
- affirmation (non-religious oath).
Both are promises to tell the truth.
The court officer will read the oath or affirmation and you should respond 'I do'.
Evidence in chief
Your evidence is called evidence in chief.
Police can take your victim statement by video or audio recording and use this recording as all or part of your evidence in chief. This recording is called the Domestic Violence Evidence in Chief (DVEC) recording.
If the police use the DVEC as your evidence in chief, they don’t need to get your consent (permission) to play the recording at court.
If the defendant is represented, the defendant's lawyer will cross-examine you.
If the defendant is self-represented, they are not allowed to directly ask you questions, regardless of how you give evidence. The Court will appoint a suitable person to ask the questions on behalf of the Defendant. This might be someone from the court staff or a Justice of the Peace. The person is known as a Court Appointed Questioner.
During cross-examination, you should:
- listen carefully and think about each question before you answer
- ask that a question be repeated if you don't understand it
- admit if you don't know the answer to a question
- speak loudly, clearly and slowly
- give exact details, for example if the person swore tell the Court the words that were used
- try not to get angry, even if the defendant's solicitor seems to be rude or aggressive
- ask for a break if you get upset.
If there are any issues you want to clear up that are raised in the cross-examination you may be able to give further evidence later. This is called re-examination.
You may get a chance to tell the Court your version of what has happened, and why you believe you need the Apprehended Violence Order (AVO), but only if the Court gives you leave (permission).
You can only give evidence about what you saw or what was said to you directly. The Court may ask you questions or ask you to explain some things in more detail. The Court may also ask you to move on to another point if they feel you have said enough about a certain issue or you are speaking about something that is not relevant to the case.
Although your witnesses may have prepared witness statements before the hearing, those witnesses will still have to come to court so that the defendant can cross-examine them.
A court officer will bring your witness into the courtroom and take them to the witness box where they will make an oath or affirmation.
After the cross-examination, you may have a chance to ask the witnesses any further questions. This is called 're-examination'. You should only re-examine your witness if you want to clear up issues raised in the cross-examination.
After you have finished presenting your evidence, the defendant will give evidence and may call witnesses to give evidence. You or your lawyer will be able to cross-examine the defendant and their witnesses. If the police applied for the AVO on your behalf, the police prosecutor will cross-examine the defendant and their witnesses.
Tip sheet: Cross-examination
After the evidence
Sometimes, when there is a lot of evidence or are many witnesses, the Court won't be able to finish the hearing in one day. If this happens, the Court will have to adjourn the hearing until the rest of the evidence can be heard. Depending on the next available hearing date, the adjournment may be for a few weeks or for a few months.
The Court will give you and the defendant instructions on when to come back to court and who should come to court on that day. In some cases, your witnesses and the defendant's witnesses will all have to come back to court for the rest of the hearing.
If the hearing is adjourned, you can ask the Court to make an Interim AVO to protect you until the day of the hearing.
If the Court has heard all the evidence, it may make a decision.
Step by step guide: Presenting your case at the hearing