Florida Dating Violence Injunction Laws
The attorneys at Musca Law are experienced in defending people against dating violence injunctions in Florida. These injunctions can have serious consequences, which is why our firm works tirelessly to defeat pending petitions for permanent injunctions. We also assist clients with modifying or dissolving existing injunctions. Contact our office today to find out how we can help you.
Florida’s Laws Pertaining to Dating Violence Injunctions
Florida has a specific set of laws applicable to dating violence, including laws pertaining to injunctions for protection against dating violence. Under Florida Statute § 784.046, “dating violence” refers to any violent acts that take place between two people who are or recently were in a romantic relationship. Violent acts might include assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, kidnapping, or any aggravated crimes involving the same.
If a person is seeking a dating violence injunction, which prohibits certain conduct by another person, he or she will have to show the court that the relationship was not only romantic but also “significant” and “continuing.” Florida courts will not grant injunctions in cases of casual or purely social relationships. The court will consider the following factors when determining whether a significant, continuing romantic relationship existed:
- Whether the relationship took place within the last six months;
- Whether there was an expectation of sexual intimacy or affection in the relationship; and
- Whether the two people were involved over time and on a continuous basis, as characterized by the type of interactions between them and the frequency of those interactions.
If the person seeking a dating violence injunction has established that such a relationship existed, he or she will need to show the court that he or she falls into one of the below categories:
- He or she is a victim of dating violence;
- He or she has a reasonable belief he or she is in imminent danger of another act of dating violence;
- He or she has a reasonable belief he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of a first act of dating violence; or
- He or she is the parent or legal guardian of a child who has been the victim of dating violence.
Affidavits or other supporting documents can be submitting with a petition for a dating violence injunction, which the court will consider in its decision as to whether an injunction should be issued.
Process for Defending Against a Dating Violence Injunction in Florida
The process for defending against a dating violence injunction can be complicated, and you need skilled representation to help you protect your rights. Florida law does not require that you or the person seeking the injunction hire attorneys to represent you, but we always urge our clients to seek the advice of experienced legal counsel, like the attorneys at Musca Law.
It is important to contact a lawyer when you receive notice that someone is seeking an injunction against you. Under Florida law, you might not know about the petition until after a temporary injunction is already in place. A judge can decide at the time of the petition’s filing that a temporary protective order is necessary and issue an ex parte injunction. The temporary injunction will usually expire in 15 days, during which time the court will set a hearing for the parties to attend. Due to potential delays in service of process, you might have very little time to prepare for this hearing when you receive notice.
One of the first steps your lawyer can take on your behalf, therefore, is requesting a continuance of the hearing. While this will extend any temporary injunction, it will also give you appropriate time to build your defense. The judge will decide after the hearing whether a permanent injunction should be granted, so you do not want to attend the hearing unprepared. At the hearing, you might present the following defenses:
- There was no continuing, significant romantic relationship between you and the petitioner.
- The relationship between you and the petitioner ended more than six months ago.
- You have had no recent contact with the petitioner.
- No acts of violence between you and the petitioner have taken place.
- The petitioner does not have reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of violence.
You might use various documents or statements to refute the petitioner’s allegations and show the judge that there is no basis for a dating violence injunction. You and your attorney will work together to uncover and implement all available defenses.
Penalties for Violating a Florida Dating Violence Injunction
If the court agrees with the petitioner that a dating violence injunction is necessary, it will issue an order detailing the terms of the final injunction. This order will enjoin (prohibit) you from certain activities and conduct. For instance, you will likely be prohibited from contacting the petitioner or coming within 500 feet of the petitioner’s home, school, or workplace. You could also be ordered to surrender your firearms and ammunition.
The court might order that you attend regular hearings so that your compliance with the injunction can be assessed. If you violate the injunction in any way, the court might order you to pay fines or open other enforcement proceedings.
More serious consequences can also result from a violation of a dating violence injunction. In Florida, if you willingly violate an existing dating violence injunction, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction can result in one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If you have been convicted twice for violating a dating violence injunction in Florida and are accused of a third violation, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. A conviction can result in five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Contact Musca Law to Protect Your Rights!
If you have been accused of dating violence and have a dating violence injunction pending against you, contact Musca Law today. Our lawyers can begin helping you protect your rights when you call our office at (888) 484-5057.