Florida’s Laws on Dating Violence Injunctions
Dating violence injunctions in Florida are broader and have greater consequences than one might think. If you are facing a dating violence injunction, it is important that you hire a skilled attorney to represent you. The lawyers at Musca Law have the experience to you need to defend your rights and fight the accusations against you.
What is ‘Dating Violence?’
Florida Statute § 784.046 defines “dating violence” as “violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” Under the same statute, “violence” means “assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, or false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death, by a person against any other person.”
To be considered dating violence, the relationship between the two individuals must have taken place within the last six months and must have been intimate in nature such that affection or sexual contact was expected in the relationship. The court will consider the duration of the relationship and the regularity of contact between the two individuals. If the relationship was casual, was of a merely social or business nature, or otherwise falls outside of the scope of the statute, a dating violence injunction is not appropriate.
Who Can Petition for a Dating Violence Injunction?
Provided that the requirements for the underlying relationship are met, Florida law allows the following people to petition for a dating violence injunction:
- A person who has been the victim of past dating violence;
- A person who has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of recurrent dating violence;
- A person who has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of dating violence;
- A parent or legal guardian of a minor child living at home who has been the victim of dating violence.
If the petition is filed on behalf of a minor child against another parent, a stepparent, or legal guardian, the law requires that the petitioner have an eyewitness account or affidavits from witnesses. If the petition is filed on behalf of a minor child against another party (not a parent or guardian), the petitioner must have reasonable cause to believe that the child has been the victim of an act of dating violence.
What Happens if Someone Seeks an Restraining Order Against Me?
If someone is seeking a dating violence injunction against you in Florida, the injunction proceedings will follow a typical procedure. The person seeking the injunction will first need to file a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence in court, along with any necessary supporting documents. The court will review the filings and schedule a hearing date at which both parties will appear to be heard on the petition. Prior to the hearing, the court can issue a temporary injunction to be served upon you at the same time as the petition.
Respondents in these matters are frequently blindsided by learning that not only has a petition been filed against them, but also that a temporary injunction is already in effect. The time period for the temporary injunction is usually 15 days, and the hearing on the petition will be scheduled within that same timeframe. However, that often leaves you sparse time to prepare for the hearing.
The most important things for you to remember when you learn about a petition against you or a temporary injunction against you are: (1) do not contact the petitioner or the subject of the petition, if not the same person, and (2) immediately contact an attorney. A skilled lawyer, like the dating violence injunction defense lawyers at Musca Law, will help you understand the accusations against you, the scope of any temporary injunction in place, and what the court requires of you before and during the hearing.
Depending on the proximity of service to the hearing date, your lawyer might also request a continuance of the hearing in order to secure adequate time to prepare the best defense possible. The hearing provides you and your counsel the opportunity to fight the injunction and explain to the court why it should be denied. After the hearing and consideration of all the evidence, the court will render its decision.
The court can choose to deny the injunction or to order a final injunction, essentially making any temporary injunction permanent. If it orders a final injunction, you will have to adhere to all of the terms of the injunction or face penalties associated with violations. It is important to know that one of the terms the court might order with a final dating violence injunction is the surrender of your firearms and ammunition.
What are the Penalties for Violating a Dating Violence Restraining Order?
The court issuing a dating violence injunction has certain powers of enforcement. It may order that the respondent attend regular hearings to assess compliance, impose a monetary assessment against the respondent, or initiate a civil proceeding for enforcement of the injunction.
However, willful violation of a dating violence injunction is a crime in Florida, charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. This can mean a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, if convicted of the violation.
If a person violates a dating violence injunction and has two or more prior convictions for violating the injunction, that person will be charged with a third-degree felony in Florida. A third-degree felony can mean five years in jail and a fine of $5,000.
Contact Musca Law to Speak to a Dating Violence Injunction Defense Attorney
If a petition for a dating violence injunction has been filed against you, you need knowledgeable counsel on your side. Too much is on the line to risk fighting the injunction alone or hiring the wrong representation. Contact Musca Law today to speak to one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys in Florida. You can schedule a free initial case consultation now by calling (888) 484-5057.