Protective Injunction for Dating Violence Defense Attorneys in Florida

Defending Against Dating Violence Injunctions

What is an injunction?

Under Florida law, an injunction, also known as “protective injunction,” “protective order,” or “restraining order,” is a legal and equitable remedy issued in the form of a court order against another individual. If an injunction is violated, the offender can face both criminal and civil consequences, including monetary fines and jail time. The offender can also be held in contempt of court.

There are five types of injunctions in Florida, which include:

  • Dating violence
  • Sexual violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking
  • Repeat violence

How are each of the above types of injunctions similar to one another?

  • The petitioner is the individual who files for the petition seeking the injunction. The respondent is the individual against whom the injunction is sought.
  • The petition is a sworn document that must be signed in front of a court clerk or notary.
  • The judge has the discretion to order a temporary injunction before the hearing on the matter occurs.
  • The temporary injunction, if approved, remains in effect until the time the hearing is held.
  • The petition is usually served on the respondent by the county sheriff.
  • A hearing can take place even if the temporary injunction was denied by the judge.
  • The respondent is entitled to receipt of notice of the hearing.
  • Both the respondent and the petitioner can bring witnesses to the hearing to testify on their behalf.
  • At the conclusion of the hearing, a judge may choose to issue a permanent injunction, which remains in effect until the court changes it or it expires,
  • If the respondent violates the permanent injunction, he or she can face criminal penalties, including jail time and other consequences.

What makes a dating violence injunction unique?

  • It requires that the petitioner and respondent be in a dating relationship within the past six months.
  • The relationship cannot be casual; it must be one that involves the expectation of affection or sexual involvement.
  • Petitioner must establish that he or she is the victim of dating violence and reasonably fears that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim once again, or reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of dating violence.
  • The victim or a parent or legal guardian of a minor living at home may file a petition against the offender.
  • Protects individuals from further contact and violence.
  • Respondent may be ordered to surrender ammunition and guns.

What is dating violence? How does a person establish that they are the victim of dating violence?

Dating violence is described as violence between two individuals who have or have had a “continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” In a dating violence case, the petitioner must establish to the court that (i) he or she is a victim of dating violence or reasonably believes that he or she is in immediate danger of dating violence; and (ii) there is a dating relationship between him or her and the respondent.

Who can file a dating violence injunction?

In Florida, a victim of dating violence or the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of a minor (an individual who is under the age of eighteen) who is a victim of dating violence may file a petition. A dating violence injunction can profoundly and negatively affect a respondent’s life for years to come, which is why courts are hesitant to grant permanent injunctions. In each dating violence case, the petitioner has the burden of proof in establishing the need for a dating violence injunction before a judge will issue an injunction against the accused.

How can a dating violence injunction be vacated, dismissed, modified, changed, or dissolved, or removed once it is effective?

A dating violence injunction can only be vacated, modified, dismissed, removed, dissolved, or changed through the court. To obtain relief from a dating violence injunction, the party must establish to the court that the facts that gave rise to the original injunction no longer exist such that keeping the injunction in effect serves no valid purpose.

How does a victim of dating violence obtain a dating violence injunction?

Under Florida law, a petitioner must file with the court a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence. Usually within a few hours after the petition is filed, the judge reviews it. The judge then determines whether or not to issue a temporary injunction against the accused, based upon the allegations raised in the petition. It is important to realize however, that the judge does not question the veracity of the claims set forth in the petition, as this is done during the subsequent hearing on the matter. If a temporary injunction is granted, the respondent receives notice of the injunction through being served by the local sheriff.

After the judge determines whether to grant or deny the temporary injunction, the next step in the process is called a “return hearing,” which occurs within fifteen days or less from the date the temporary injunction was issued. At this stage, the judge determines whether or not to issue the permanent injunction against the respondent. Keep in mind that the judge may exercise its discretion to deny both the temporary injunction and the subsequent hearing on the matter.

What occurs at a dating violence injunction hearing?

When the petitioner files his or her petition, the judge may schedule a hearing, even if she or she denies the temporary injunction. During this hearing, the petitioner has the burden of proving that he or she is entitled to a permanent injunction due to being a victim, or fear of becoming a victim, of dating violence. In support of his or her case, the petitioner can bring forth evidence to establish the need for a dating violence injunction. Evidence may include documentation, witnesses, police officers, and additional evidence to support his or her claim of dating violence.

The respondent can also bring forth all necessary evidence including documentation, witnesses, and other supporting evidence to dispute the allegations that have been brought forth against him or her. Both of the parties have the right to cross-examine each other as well as all witnesses who have been called to testify. Once all of the evidence has been presented by each party, the judge then renders a decision as to whether to grant or deny a permanent injunction.

What occurs if the respondent violates the dating violence injunction?

If the respondent violates the dating violence injunction, he or she may face criminal charges, which may result in imprisonment and the imposition of harsh monetary fines.

Under what circumstances can a dating violence injunction be extended?

A dating violence injunction may be extended beyond its expiration date as long as the extension request is brought forth before the injunction is set to expire. In deciding whether or not to extend the dating violence injunction, the judge does not require the petitioner to have been the victim of new violence. Alternatively, the judge may consider the facts and circumstances that resulted in the imposition of the original injunction, as well as subsequent actions by the respondent that causes the petitioner to reasonably fear that dating violence will likely occur in the future.

Frequently asked questions about dating violence injunctions in Florida

What occurs when a person files a dating violence injunction?

When a petition is filed by the petitioner, a judge decides whether to grant the temporary injunction and schedule a hearing within 15 days or less; (ii) deny the temporary injunction and schedule a hearing; or (iii) deny the petition without holding a hearing.

If a temporary injunction is approved, the respondent is barred from having any contact with the petitioner until the hearing takes place. During the hearing, both the respondent and the petitioner can present their cases. If the allegations raised against the respondent are untrue, exaggerated, or misrepresented, the respondent’s lawyer will seek to have the permanent injunction denied and the underlying petition dismissed.

What happens if the respondent does not challenge the dating violence petition?

If the respondent does not challenge the petition that has been issued against him or her, this means that the petitioner can present his or her case without the respondent present to refute the allegations raised against him or her. The implications of a dating violence injunction are serious, and this is why it is critical for the respondent to attend the hearing and challenge the allegations raised in the petition.

What happens if the court grants the dating violence injunction after the hearing?

The respondent cannot have any further contact with the petitioner once the injunction has been approved. The respondent must also vacate a shared residence, if applicable, and turn in to law enforcement any firearms and ammunition that he or she has in his or her possession. The respondent will also be barred from being present in areas where the petitioner frequents, including a store, place of worship, and place of employment. The court can also order the respondent to attend an intervention program and/or mental health counseling.

How long does a dating violence injunction remain effective?

A permanent injunction remains effective until the court changes it or at the time it expires, if applicable. An injunction can be in effect for several years, which depends upon the facts and circumstances of the underlying case. If the dating violence injunction has an expiration date, the petitioner, if he or she wants to extend the injunction, must return to the court before the time that the injunction expires.

The dating violence protective order specifies that there is to be "no contact." What does “no contact” mean?

“No contact” means that the respondent should not contract the petitioner at any time, whether directly, indirectly, or through a third party such as a friend or family member.

How is a dating violence injunction violated?

A dating violence injunction is violated if the respondent inflicts harm or threatens to inflict harm upon the petitioner. There are certain instances where it is not clear to the respondent that he or she is in violation of the dating violence injunction. For example, the respondent may send a non-threatening email to the petitioner or seek to communicate with the petitioner through a third party such as a friend or family member. Or, the respondent is unaware that he or she came too close to an area where the petitioner is located. As such, it is critical that the respondent review and understand the terms of the injunction in order to avoid violating the dating violence injunction.

What will happen if a person violates a dating violence injunction?

If an individual is in violation of a dating violence injunction, then he or she will be deemed as committing a crime, which can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In this case, the respondent may face jail time, harsh monetary fines, and other serious repercussions.

Are dating violence injunctions public records?

Yes. Dating violence injunctions are part of the public record, meaning that they can be accessed by anyone who conducts a background check on the respondent.

Can a person appeal a dating violence injunction?

Yes. If a judge orders a dating violence injunction during the hearing, the case may be appealed by the respondent.

Will an expired dating violence injunction still affect me?

Dating violence injunctions, even expired ones, are public record and cannot be expunged. This means that the expired injunction can negatively and permanently affect the life of the respondent. Specifically, it may be difficult for the respondent to find gainful employment or suitable housing, and he or she may not be able to take out a loan since the lender can search the public record for his or her background information. The respondent may also be permanently barred from purchasing a firearm. This is why it is critical for a respondent to seek an appeal of his or her case to avoid these severe repercussions. An attorney is in the best position to advise the respondent as to his or her legal rights and options.

Do I need a criminal attorney to represent me if a petition has been filed against me?

An injunction is meant to protect a person from harassment or violence, which are considered crimes in Florida. Although there is no legal requirement to have an attorney, it is imperative that you work with a skilled Florida criminal defense lawyer who knows the laws and the ins and outs of the court system in order to defend you to the fullest extent of the law.

During the hearing, a seasoned Florida dating violence defense lawyer will seek to refute the claims raised by the petitioner and provide the court with the respondent’s version of what brought about the petition in the first place. For instance, the petitioner may have falsely filed a petition against the respondent in order to gain an advantage in a family law proceeding, to harass the respondent, or to negotiate more favorable terms in a contract or other matter.

What are the consequences of a dating violence injunction?

The consequences of a dating violence injunction can be severe, and negatively impact the respondent for the rest of his or her life. That is why it is essential to hire a Florida criminal defense attorney who can zealously represent your legal rights and interests.

Some of the negative repercussions associated with a dating violence injunction are:

  • No further contact with the petitioner. Once an injunction has been approved by the court, even innocent or mistaken contact can violate its terms, which could lead to criminal charges.
  • Damage to your livelihood and financial welfare. Since a dating violence injunction is part of the public record and cannot be expunged, anyone who searches the background information of the respondent can find out about his or her criminal history. This could cause the respondent to lose out on a job opportunity as well as experience difficulty in finding suitable housing and/or obtaining a loan.
  • All firearms and ammunition must be surrendered to law enforcement. If a dating violence injunction has been issued against an individual, he or she must surrender to law enforcement all firearms and ammunition. He or she may also be permanently barred from purchasing firearms in the future.

Contact Musca Law Today. Your Life and Your Liberty Depend Upon It!

Facing the prospects of a dating violence injunction can be frightening, as an active injunction can negatively affect your life in a multitude of ways. When you work a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney at Musca Law, he or she will help you to challenge a dating violence injunction to the fullest extent of the law. Our firm’s attorneys are among The National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Trial Lawyers, included in the 2012 Florida Super Lawyers® for criminal defense, and boast 10.0 Superb Avvo ratings. Our attorneys are skilled, experienced, tenacious, and relentless when it comes to defending our clients and our knowledge of dating violence injunction laws. To learn more about how Musca Law can make a difference for you, call (888) 484-5057 today.

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