Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Clearwater, Florida
Those who are victims of domestic violence in Clearwater may pursue a remedy - known as a protective injunction, restraining order, or simply an injunction - from the court in order to be protected from being the victim of violent acts. In many instances, those who face allegations of domestic violence may also have been charged with this offense in a criminal proceeding or are currently being investigated by police. However, many times when a person seeks an injunction for protection against domestic violence, there is no corresponding criminal case. Instead, the alleged offender may be the subject of a domestic violence injunction, which is exclusively a civil court matter.
Judges in Clearwater take accusations of domestic violence very seriously and law enforcement thoroughly investigates these cases. Notwithstanding, there are instances where the alleged offender is accused of domestic violence based upon false or misleading allegations. When this occurs, the alleged offender’s rights are at stake and he or she may face severe consequences that can permanently affect his or her life. While a domestic violence injunction does not amount to criminal penalties, violating one can result in criminal charges. Accordingly, those who are facing a domestic violence injunction and/or domestic violence charges must act quickly to retain a skilled Clearwater Criminal and Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Attorney.
Musca Law serves clients in Clearwater and throughout the State of Florida who are facing criminal charges and/or civil protective injunctions. Our nationally-recognized trial lawyers have offices all across Florida and can reach clients 24/7 to help them with their legal needs. To learn how the Clearwater Criminal and Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law can help you, contact us today by calling (888) 484-5057.
The Protective Injunction Process in Clearwater, Florida
When a person faces a domestic violence injunction, it is vital that he or she understands what a protective injunction is and what to expect once served with a court-approved document known as a petition. Specifically, those who are the subject of a domestic violence injunction proceeding will have a better chance of obtaining a successful outcome if they are fully prepared and know what to expect. Having a skilled Clearwater Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Attorney helps to increase your odds of having a favorable result in your case, as they know the ins and outs of the courtroom, are familiar with the judge, and have significant knowledge of the applicable law.
As noted above, a protective injunction, such as a domestic violence injunction, is also known as a restraining order, protective order, or simply an injunction. This is a remedy issued by a civil court that has the purpose of protecting alleged victims from further acts of abuse and violence. Under Florida law, there are five types of injunctions that a person can seek, which include the following:
- Domestic violence injunctions
- Stalking injunctions
- Repeat violence injunctions
- Sexual violence injunctions
- Dating violence injunctions
Once a person files a petition for a domestic violence injunction, the person who is seeking the injunction is known as the “petitioner,” while the individual who is served with the petition is known as the “respondent.” As noted above, a person who wishes to obtain a domestic violence injunction must submit to the court a petition that provides the facts and circumstances supporting the need for a protective order, and any evidence that is available to substantiate his or her allegations. Once the petition is filed with the court, the judge will then examine it and decide whether or not to issue a temporary injunction.
If the approves the petition, then a temporary injunction will be ordered, which dictates that the respondent can have no further contact with the petitioner until the hearing date. The final hearing is scheduled by the judge fifteen days after the temporary injunction is issued. Keep in mind that even if the judge denies a temporary injunction, he or she can still schedule a final hearing in the matter. Once the hearing is scheduled, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will serve the respondent with a copy of the petition, the date and time of the final hearing, and a copy of the temporary injunction order. At this time, the respondent must vacate a shared dwelling and as noted above, have no further contact with the petitioner until such time when the final hearing is held. Once served, the respondent must act quickly to obtain a skilled Clearwater Criminal and Domestic Violence Injunction Attorney who can help him or her develop the strongest defense case possible.
When working alongside of a lawyer, the respondent can request that the court to delay the hearing date through a motion for continuance of the matter. This is due to the fact that fifteen days may not be a sufficient amount of time to prepare the respondent’s case. At the hearing, both the petitioner and respondent can submit evidence to the court, present his or her side of the story, and obtain witness testimony. At this juncture, the judge then renders a determination as to whether to grant or deny the permanent domestic violence injunction. If the judge issues an injunction, he or she can order that the injunction last for a certain period time, or indefinitely, depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case.
The Definition of Domestic Violence Pursuant to Florida Law
A court can only issue a domestic violence injunction when the conduct alleged in the petition satisfies the definition of “domestic violence.” Under Florida Statute § 741.28, “domestic violence” is defined as follows:
“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 members by another family or household matter.”
Individuals who qualify as a “family or household member” per Florida law includes the following:
“spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as a family or who have resided together in the past as a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.”
Except those who have a child together, the key element that defines domestic violence is that the victim and alleged abuser reside with each other currently, did so in the past, and/or have a child in common.
The Requirements for Obtaining a Domestic Violence Injunction in Pinellas County
Individuals facing a domestic violence injunction must be aware of its requirements and have a complete understanding of the civil proceeding in Clearwater. The main reason why a person should have knowledge of the injunction process is that a failure to properly challenge it could result in the approval of the domestic violence injunction. Specifically, respondents who represent themselves often fail to understand the court process, their legal rights, and how to successfully prepare for a strong defense. Working with an experienced and dedicated Clearwater Criminal and Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Attorney will ensure that a respondent is aware of his or her rights, meets all legal requirements, and has the strongest defense strategy possible.
Under Florida Statutes § 741.30, a petitioner seeking a domestic violence injunction in Clearwater must satisfy the following requirements:
- The petitioner must establish that he or she is a family or household member as defined by Florida law; and
(1) the petitioner/minor child is the victim of domestic violence; or
(2) the petitioner has a reasonable belief that he/she or a minor
child will imminently become victims of domestic violence.
While domestic violence is a serious offense and can lead to significant harm to innocent victims, those who are facing the prospects of a domestic violence injunction deserve to have the strongest defense case possible and have their day in court to refute the allegations that have been raised against him or her.
The Repercussions of a Domestic Violence Injunction in Clearwater, Florida
The consequences associated with a domestic violence injunction are severe and can permanently affect the life of the respondent for years to come. Specifically, once a domestic violence injunction is issued by the court, the respondent (i) cannot have any contact with the petitioner, (ii) may face social stigma, (iii) may be estranged from family members and friends, (iv) may lose to the right to own firearms and ammunition, (v) may be forced to submit to a mental health evaluation, (vi) may be required to seek mental health counseling at his or her own expense, and (vii) may lose his or her job, have trouble finding a job, and/or be unable to obtain a bank loan.
It is vital to understand that all domestic violence injunctions are tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of one’s case. Accordingly, a respondent in one case may face different requirements than a respondent in another matter. This is why it is critical to obtain a knowledgeable Clearwater Criminal and Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Attorney who will fight hard to protect a respondent’s legal rights and interests during the domestic violence injunction proceeding.
The Modification and Termination of a Domestic Violence Injunction
As with other civil orders, an injunction for the protection against domestic violence in Clearwater can be modified or terminated in certain cases. Given the fact that may domestic violence injunctions involve members of the same household or family members, the parties may make amends, especially when they share a child in common.
If a petitioner seeks a modification or termination of a domestic violence injunction order for any reason, he or she can do so through the filing of a motion in court. A respondent can also pursue a modification or termination of an order by also filing a court motion. The parties can jointly seek a modification or termination of a domestic violence injunction. In these cases, the presiding judge will review the motion and decide whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant a termination or modification of the domestic violence injunction.
Keep in mind that some domestic violence injunctions only last for a certain period of time, while others are set to last indefinitely. If a domestic violence injunction has an expiration date, the petitioner has the right to seek to extend it by filing a motion with the court at least 30 days before it is set to expire.
How a Domestic Violence Injunction is Violated in Clearwater, Florida
Courts in Clearwater take domestic violence injunction proceedings very seriously. Accordingly, if a domestic violence injunction is violated, the respondent will face criminal penalties, which, as discussed more fully below, may include jail time, harsh monetary fines, probation, and more. Depending upon the terms of the underlying domestic violence injunction, a respondent can violate it in a number of ways, even if the violation was unintentional. Examples of how a respondent can violate a domestic violence injunction include, without limitation, the following:
- There respondent failed to stay away from the petitioner;
- The respondent committed an act or acts of domestic violence against the petitioner;
- The respondent is the subject of domestic violence charges or a criminal investigation is being pursued against him or her;
- The respondent failed to surrender all ammunition and firearms to law enforcement;
- The respondent failed to undergo a mental health evaluation; and
- The respondent failed to attend mental health counseling, if ordered by the judge.
A violation of a domestic violence injunction, as mentioned above, can be unintended, especially if the respondent does not understand all of the terms of the domestic violence injunction. Also, a respondent may happen to accidentally come in contact with the petitioner such as at a grocery store or gas station. Notwithstanding, this can lead to criminal charges, even if the contact was accidental. If a respondent is facing allegations that he or she violated a domestic violence injunction, it is critical that he or she contact a Clearwater Criminal and Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer.
Under Florida law, if a domestic violence injunction is violated, then a respondent may face the following criminal repercussions:
- First violation – this is a misdemeanor in the first degree, which is associated with up to a one-year prison term, a monetary fine of up to $1,000, and probation.
- Second violation – this is also a misdemeanor in the first degree, punishable as provided above. However, in some instances, a respondent may face multiple terms of a domestic violence injunction at one time. In this view, the respondent could face numerous counts of violating a domestic violence injunction, which is associated with a prison term of up to two years and a monetary fine of up to $2,000.
- Third violation – this constitutes a felony in the third degree, which is associated with a jail term of up to five years and a monetary penalty of up to $5,000.
- Four or more violations – each subsequent violation is a felony in the third degree. Numerous violations can result in multiple felony charges.
Why You Need an Attorney to Defend Your Rights in a Clearwater Court
At Musca Law, we highly recommend that you hire one of our skilled and dedicated Clearwater Criminal and Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers. Our attorneys will advise you of your legal rights and interests, review all of the facts and circumstances of your case, examine all of the evidence, and develop the strongest defense strategy possible.
Contact the Clearwater Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
If you are facing domestic violence criminal charges and/or you have been served with a domestic violence injunction, your legal rights are on the line, and you need an attorney by your side to advocate on your behalf. At Musca Law, our Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyers work tirelessly to ensure their clients receive the best legal representation possible. To find out how Musca Law can help you with your legal matter, contact our office today by calling (888) 484-5057. Our legal team is available 24/7 to answer your questions, address your concerns, and provide you with the guidance you need to move forward.