The law that covers restraining orders in WA changed on 1 July 2017.
This information below about family violence restraining orders and personal violence applies from 1 July 2017.
What is a misconduct restraining order?
A misconduct restraining order (MRO) is designed to stop a person behaving in a way that is intimidating or offensive towards you. It is an order of the court. It can also stop a person causing damage to your property or acting in a way that may lead to a breach of the peace. The order can be worded to suit your situation.
If you apply for the order you are the applicant or the person seeking to be protected. The person who you want the order against is the respondent or the person bound if a restraining order is made.
A misconduct restraining order only applies to someone you are not in a family relationship with. If you are in a family relationship with someone and need protection you may need to apply for a family violence restraining order. See Family violence retraining orders and Police orders - information.
If you are seeking protection form personal violence you may need to apply for a violence restraining order. See Violence restraining orders - information .
Am I in a family relationship?
You are in a family relationship with someone if that other person is your:
- spouse or ex-spouse
- de facto or ex-de facto
- girlfriend/boyfriend or ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend
- child, step-child or grandchild
- parent, step-parent or grandparent
- your sibling or step-sibling
- relative or former relative.
If you are not sure whether you are in a family relationship with the person you want a restraining order against, you should seek legal advice.
What conditions can be imposed in an MRO?
An MRO may include conditions to stop the respondent doing whatever the court thinks is necessary. This will often depend on the circumstances of each case.
The MRO can include stopping the respondent from:
- being on or near premises where the applicant lives or works
- being on or near a named building, locality or place
- coming within a certain distance of the applicant
- contacting or attempting to contact the applicant in any way, including ringing, writing to or text messaging or emailing the applicant
- being at a place even if they have a right to be there
- preventing anyone from entering or staying in a place
- having a gun or a gun licence or applying for a gun licence*
- getting anyone else to do any of the things listed above.
*The respondent is not automatically banned from having a gun or a gun licence. The applicant must ask for this and the court has to decide if the ban is necessary in the circumstances of the case.
What is a breach of an MRO?
A restraining order will prevent the person bound from doing certain things.
Persons bound and protected persons must READ THE ORDER CAREFULLY.
If the person bound does something that the restraining order says they can't do they are "breaching" the order.
If an MRO says the person bound is not allowed to communicate with the protected person, the parties must not:
- visit each other
- call each other on the phone
- send text messages to each other
- send emails to the other person
- send letters to each other
- send presents to each other
- send messages to each other, even through other people.
Is an MRO a criminal charge?
A misconduct restraining order is not a criminal charge. However, if the respondent does something that the MRO says they can't do they are breaching the order. The penalty for breaching an MRO is a fine of up to $1,000.
How can I get an MRO?
You can apply for an MRO to any Magistrates Court, or where the respondent is a child or young person under 18 years of age, to the Children's Court of WA . Ask at your nearest court or, if there is no court in your area, ask at the nearest police station.
To get an MRO you must be able to show the court that the person you want the order against is likely to:
- act in a way that could reasonably make you feel intimidated or offended and would in fact actually intimidate or offend you or
- cause damage to your property or property you have with you or
- act in a way that is, or may lead to, a breach of the peace.
The court must also think it is appropriate to make an MRO.
Before making a restraining order against a child that affects their care and wellbeing the court has to be satisfied that appropriate arrangements have been made for their care and wellbeing.
A breach of the peace is a legal concept meaning something that disturbs the public peace. For example:
- Regularly screaming and shouting in a public place.
- Protesting in a way that prevents people from carrying out their work.
- Intimidating people who are trying to use a public open space.
For information about fees for an MRO application go to the Magistrates Court of WA website or a registry.
For more information about the court process, go to Restraining orders- court process.
Who can apply for a misconduct restraining order?
You can apply for an MRO if you are the person who wants protection. A guardian or a police officer may also apply for you.
If you are not yet 18, the police or a parent, guardian or child welfare officer (eg, a Department of Communities (Child Protection and Family Support) case worker) can also apply for an MRO for you.
What if the person protected contacts me?
If the person protected contacts you, end the contact straight away (eg, put the telephone down, walk away etc). If they persist in trying to make contact with you, you may be able to have the order varied. Go to Restraining orders -varying, cancelling, extending or appealing orders for information on having an order varied.
What if an MRO has been made against me?
No matter how angry or upset you are, your actions now are important. You need to think carefully about what has happened, and what you want to happen in the future. There are a number of services available to help you. They can provide legal advice and counselling support.
What if I have been charged with breaching an MRO?
If you are charged with breaching an MRO, you may have a legal defence to the charge. For example, if you have contacted the protected person through:
- a lawyer
- an Aboriginal Legal Service court officer, or
- a mediation service such as Relationships Australia or Centrecare
then there may be a legal defence to the charge. You should get legal advice.
Where can I get more information?
- The Magistrates Court of WA website or a registry for fact sheets and application forms.
- Legal Aid WA’s Infoline on 1300 650 579 for information and referrals. Click here to view and download information sheets that may help you. You can also obtain obtain a copy from any Legal Aid WA office or by contacting the Infoline.
Last reviewed: 29/06/2017