Florida’s Laws on Domestic Violence Injunctions
The attorneys at Musca Law have a combined 150 years of criminal defense experience, and we understand the issues involved in domestic violence injunction defense. If you have been served with a petition for a domestic violence injunction or a temporary injunction, contact our office today. We can help you understand more about Florida’s laws on domestic violence injunctions and how to protect your rights.
Definition of Domestic Violence Under Florida Law
Before delving into the laws surrounding domestic violence injunctions, it helps to understand how the state of Florida defines domestic violence. Florida Statute § 741.28 states that domestic violence is “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”
A family or household member, according to the same statute, includes “spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.”
Grounds for Seeking a Domestic Violence Injunction in Florida
Under Florida Statute § 741.30, in order to petition for an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence, a person must be a family member or household member of the respondent (the person accused of domestic violence). If the petitioner is a family member or household member of the respondent and has no children in common with the respondent, the petitioner needs to have lived with the respondent in the same “single dwelling unit.”
The petition must allege that the respondent has committed an act or acts of domestic violence against the petitioner or that the petitioner has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of an act of domestic violence. If the petitioner has not alleged any past acts of domestic violence, the court will look at a number of factors to determine whether he or she has “reasonable cause” to believe that he or she is in imminent danger. These factors might include:
- Any prior violent crimes committed by the respondent, regardless of whether they involved the petitioner;
- Any history of threatening, stalking, or physically abusive behavior from the respondent directed at the petitioner;
- Any instances of threats involving weapons by the respondent toward the petitioner;
- Any acts by the respondent that prevented the petitioner from leaving home or contacting police;
- Any attempts to inflict harm on the petitioner or the petitioner’s family or friends;
- Any threats the respondent has made toward the petitioner’s children, including threats of kidnapping;
- Any harm the respondent has inflicted upon the petitioner’s pets;
- Any damage the respondent has caused to the petitioner’s personal property; and
- Any prior orders of protection or existing orders of protection in other jurisdictions.
The court may also, in its discretion, consider other conduct by the respondent in weighing whether the petitioner has reasonable cause to believe that an act of domestic violence is imminent.
Procedures Behind a Florida Domestic Violence Injunction
When a person has standing to petition for an injunction, certain procedures will follow.
- Filing the Petition. The process begins with the petitioner completing and filing a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence. Along with the petition, the petitioner can file supporting documents, like affidavits, regarding the matters described in the petition.
- Setting Return Hearing/Ordering Temporary Injunction. Unless the judge denies the injunction outright upon review of the petition and documents, the judge will set a Return Hearing for the earliest possible date. Prior to this hearing, the judge can order a temporary injunction ex parte. If the judge does not believe, based on the documents alone, that the petitioner is in imminent danger, he or she will not issue a temporary injunction.
- Service of Process. The respondent will then be served with the petition, notice of the hearing, and the temporary injunction, if any. You will notice that under these procedures, an injunction could already be in place before the respondent knows anything about the accusations or the existence of the petition. Because it takes time for service of process to be effectuated, the respondent could also have extremely limited time to prepare before the Return Hearing date arrives.
- Return Hearing. Typically, temporary injunctions last 15 days, and Return Hearings are set within that time. The judge might extend any temporary injunction and continue the hearing if the respondent has not been properly served within 15 days or if the respondent demonstrates good cause for a continuance. At the return hearing, the judge will allow both parties to address the petition and request their desired relief.
- Final Injunction. After the Return Hearing, the judge will either deny a final injunction or issue a final injunction with which the respondent will be served. The order will describe the terms of the injunction, including how long the order will remain in effect.
How a Florida Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer Can Help
Domestic violence injunctions are matters of civil law, but violations of them result in criminal penalties. It takes an experienced criminal defense lawyer, like those at Musca Law, to defend against these injunctions, which can have serious repercussions on people for years to come. The first way your attorney can help you is requesting a continuance for the Return Hearing. This will allow more time to conduct depositions and prepare a solid defense. Your attorney will then represent you in the hearing and contradict the allegations made in the petition. To defend your liberties, you have to have the right advocate on your side.
Contact Musca Law for a Free Consultation
Contact Musca Law to schedule a free consultation with one of our dedicated defense attorneys in Florida. We have the experience you need to fight a domestic violence injunction and can begin assisting you with just one phone call. Call our firm today at (888) 484-5057.