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Legal system

  • Confidentiality means information that you are sharing with a person or group of people will not be shared further without your permission. When your safety or the safety of someone else may be at risk then information relevant to keeping someone safe could be shared without your permission.

  • What is a PSO?
    A PSO is issued by the Police when they’re worried a person is behaving in a way that puts someone else at risk of being harmed. Behaviour that Police could be concerned about includes verbal, physical, or emotional harm. The Police don’t need consent from either person to issue a PSO.

    What does it mean?
    If someone is served a PSO, they must follow the rules of the PSO for the time it says (up to 10 days). This gives the person who is being protected by the PSO time to make decisions about what they want to do, and for both people to access support.
    If someone is served a PSO they don’t get a criminal conviction, but the details of the PSO are kept in police records.
    The person served the PSO will need to stay somewhere else for the time of the PSO. If they don’t have a place to stay, Police can help them find accommodation.

    What can you do if you’re served a PSO?
    Use it as a time out - if the other person wants to have contact after the PSO has finished, that’s when both people can talk about things respectfully.
    Access support – Service Finder (link) can help them find services

    What can’t you do?
    The person served the PSO can’t contact the other person directly or indirectly - this means no texting, calling, emailing, letters, via social media or passing messages through other people.
    They can’t go near them or the land or building/s they occupy.
    They can’t harm them further - including assaulting, harassing, threatening, stalking, or intimidating them.
    They can’t see any children/tamariki they share for the time the PSO is in place, even if there are parenting orders that says they can have contact with the children/tamariki, as the PSO is considered more important.
    They can’t appeal a PSO.

    What happens if you don’t follow the conditions?
    If the person served the PSO doesn’t follow the conditions they can be arrested by Police and appear in Court for breaching the PSO. The Court can take the following actions:

    • release them with no further action
    • extend the current PSO (if the PSO has not expired)
    • issue a new PSO (if the PSO has expired)
    • consider whether a temporary protection order should be issued.

    If they commit offences when breaching the PSO, charges will be filed in Court, and they’ll speak with a lawyer about what happens next.

  • Restorative Justice is a process where the person who caused harm meets with the victim and a person who makes sure the meeting is safe and appropriate. Restorative Justice can help the person who caused the harm to understand the impact of their actions, and they can offer something in return to make amends. The meeting can only happen if a Judge directs it before sentencing, and if both the victim and person who caused them harm agree to it. The person who runs the meeting gives a report to the Court about how the meeting went and what the outcome was.

  • Diversion is operated by the Police and can be used to avoid getting a conviction, usually it’s your first time before the Court. There will be a plan to complete that might include things like volunteer work, paying a donation to a charity, or completing a programme. You must still go to Court to monitor your progress on the plan, and once you’ve completed it your charge can be dismissed.

  • When you get charged with a criminal offence, you’re either served with a summons to appear in Court, or you appear in Court the same or next day. Before you appear in Court you should speak with a lawyer – the Court can provide a duty lawyer if you don’t have your own.
    You can be let go with no conditions (remanded at large), given bail (which has conditions that can include where you must live, people you can’t associate with, places you can’t go and things you can’t do such as alcohol or drugs), or you’ll be put in prison (remanded in custody) until your next Court date.

    The next step is to enter a plea to either admit guilt or say you’re not guilty. Guilty means you’ll get a sentencing date set. Not guilty means you’ll go to trial, but your lawyer may also negotiate the facts or charges. Before sentencing the Judge usually orders a pre-sentence report, which is completed by a Probation Officer. The report gives the Judge an overall picture of your life circumstances, as well as any mitigating factors (reasons why you may have done the offending), and the sentence options the Judge can choose from.

  • You can check online for a lawyer near you or ask people you know for recommendations.

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    If you can’t afford a lawyer, and have been charged with an offence, you can apply to legal aid. Legal aid is considered a loan to cover legal costs, and you may have to repay some or all of it.  It is based on your earnings, property and what you may receive because of your case. Legal aid can be available for Criminal and Family or Civil cases. You can find more information and apply for legal aid here: Legal aid | New Zealand Ministry of Justice

  • What is a Protection Order?
    A Protection Order is made by a Family Court Judge (or in some cases a District Court Judge) to help protect the person who made the application (the applicant), any children/tamariki under 18 who regularly live with them, and anyone else named in the order, from a person they have made the application against (the respondent).

    What does the Protection Order say?
    Protection Orders have conditions that are standard for everyone, but they may also have conditions to deal with individual situations. Some of the conditions the respondent must follow are listed below:

    1. Non-violence conditions
    The respondent must not: physically, psychologically, or sexually abuse or threaten the applicant or their children/tamariki; damage or threaten to damage the applicant's property; encourage anyone else to physically, sexually, or psychologically abuse or threaten the applicant or their children/tamariki.

    2. Programmes
    In most cases, the respondent will be required to attend a Court-appointed 'stopping violence' programme to help them live without violence. These programmes are funded by the Ministry of Justice, so they don’t need to pay. The Protection Order will have instructions on it about attending the programme. If they don’t attend, they may have to go back to Court.

    3. Firearms conditions
    When the respondent is served with a Temporary Protection Order, they must hand in any firearms within 24 hours, or earlier if required by the Police. Their firearms licence will also be suspended. If they have access to firearms or weapons the Police, the Court or the applicant's lawyer must be told. If the Protection Order is made final their firearms licence will be taken away unless they can satisfy the Court that the applicant will be safe.

    4. Non-contact conditions
    The Protection Order will include non-contact conditions which must be followed. The applicant can choose to agree to contact but can change their mind at any time and the respondent needs to listen to their wishes. Standard non-contact conditions include that the respondent must not:

    • go to the applicant's home or onto their property
    • hang around their neighbourhood
    • try to stop the applicant, their children/tamariki or those close to the applicant from coming or going
    • phone, write, text, send letters, fax or in any way contact the applicant unless it is an emergency, there is written permission, or both the respondent and applicant are asked to attend a family group conference

    How long is a Protection Order for?
    When a Protection Order is made without notice, it is temporary and runs for three months.
    If the respondent was served with a Protection Order and they don’t attend Court or choose not to defend it, the Protection Order will automatically become final after the three months. This means it will become permanent, even if they’re no longer in a relationship with the applicant.
    If the respondent disagrees with the Protection Order and wants to defend it, a hearing date will be set by the Court and the applicant will be told about it. The Court will then consider both sides.
    The applicant can choose to ask the Court to cancel the Protection Order, however the Court needs to be sure it is safe to cancel the Protection Order. The Court may not cancel the Protection Order if it still has concerns for the applicant’s safety.

    How do you decide what to do?
    The law gives the respondent the option to disagree with the Protection Order application or to challenge any of the alleged facts or special conditions. The way to disagree with it depends on whether the respondent has received a Temporary Protection Order or an application on notice.
    Whether the respondent accepts responsibility or disagrees with the allegations, it's important they clearly understand what a Protection Order means and what could happen as a result.
    A lawyer (see below) who works in family law and the Family Court can help the respondent understand the Protection Order or application and work out what the next step should be.

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