Florida Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Attorneys
If you have been served with a temporary junction or a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence in Florida, contact the lawyers at Musca Law today. Our experienced attorneys know how to navigate the proceedings surrounding temporary and final domestic violence injunctions in Florida, as well as injunction violations.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order Laws in Florida
Domestic violence is a serious offense in Florida, and the state has enacted laws designed to protect victims before, during the pendency of, or in lieu of criminal charges. Victims of domestic violence in Florida can petition a court for an injunction against the accused. The injunction is a tool in the civil justice system that prohibits contact or restricts contact between the petitioner (the alleged victim) and the respondent (the accused).
Under Florida Statute § 741.30, a domestic violence injunction can be sought by household members or family members. Though many of these injunctions are sought by spouses, the law specifically says that the petitioner does not have to be a spouse in order to seek injunctive relief. If a household or family member has been the victim of domestic violence or reasonably believes he or she is in danger of becoming a victim, this person has the right to seek an injunction in circuit court. The household or family member does not need to still be living with the accused in order to petition for an injunction.
The injunction petition needs to be filed in one of three places in Florida: (1) where the petitioner resides; (2) where the respondent resides (if not the same place); or (3) where the act(s) of domestic violence occurred. Unlike many other civil matters, a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence does not have a minimum residency requirement for venue and jurisdictional purposes.
After the petition is filed, the judge has discretion to issue a temporary injunction ex parte on the basis of the pleadings alone. This means the respondent might not be present for the issuance of the temporary injunction and might not even know that a petition has been filed. The temporary injunction usually lasts 15 days, and the judge will schedule a full hearing during that time period.
Conduct in Violation of a Domestic Violence Injunction
If a final injunction is issued, the order will provide details about prohibited conduct with respect to the petitioner. Typically, the following types of conduct will be considered violations of a domestic violence injunction in Florida:
- Contacting the petitioner directly or indirectly (if the court has prohibited all forms of contact between the respondent and petitioner);
- Any new or additional acts of violence against the petitioner;
- Threats of violence directed at the petitioner, the petitioner’s family, or the petitioner’s pets;
- Stalking or harassing behavior directed toward the petitioner;
- Refusal to move out of the house shared with the petitioner (if still sharing a home at the time the injunction is ordered);
- Refusal to turn in firearms or ammunition (if the court orders such as part of the injunction).
This is not an exhaustive list, and every case will be different. It is important that if an injunction is in place, it is followed as closely as possible. If an injunction is ordered in error or needs to be changed, either of the parties can petition the court at any time for a modification to the order. In addition, either of the parties can petition the court at any time to dissolve the injunction.
Penalties for Violating a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in Florida
Though a domestic violence injunction is ordered at the civil level in Florida, violation of it can result in criminal charges. In many cases, a violation will be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. A person convicted of this level of crime could face a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.
If the violation is more serious (such as an aggravated offense in violation of the injunction) or there are multiple violations, the respondent could be charged with a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies in Florida can result in a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.
Defenses to a Florida Domestic Violence Injunction and Injunction Violations
Florida Statute § 741.30 says that the parties to a domestic violence injunction proceeding do not need to have legal representation, but we always encourage accused persons in these situations to hire competent counsel. Particularly if you have already been served a temporary injunction, you likely have little time to prepare for the full hearing. You need an advocate on your side to secure additional time, if necessary, and fight against the injunction.
If you have children with the petitioner, have a shared household, or have shared finances with the petitioner, an injunction can make it extremely difficult to carry out day-to-day matters. You need to fight against the allegations and ensure your continued freedom to contact the petitioner for necessary issues.
When defending against a domestic violence injunction, you will likely argue either that the acts alleged by the petitioner did not occur or that the petitioner has no reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger. If the injunction is granted, and the petitioner later accuses you of violating it, you will also need an experienced lawyer to defend you. Some potential defenses to a violation include:
- Lack of notice of the injunction;
- Lack of intent with respect to the alleged contact; and
- Conflicting court orders that make it impossible to comply with the injunction.
Your lawyer will be able to look at the specific circumstances of your case to identify all available defenses.
Contact Musca Law Today for a Free Case Review!
If you are facing a domestic violence injunction in Florida or charges related to violation of a domestic violence injunction, contact Musca Law today. You can schedule a free case review with one of our skilled Florida defense attorneys when you call (888) 484-5057.