Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers in Clearwater, Florida
Injunctions, also referred to as restraining orders, protective orders, and protective injunctions, are all terms that are synonymous in Florida. However, each type of protective injunction in Florida is different. In general, injunctions are issued by a civil – not criminal – court, and they are meant to protect individuals from being subject to violent acts. The type of injunction that an alleged victim pursues is contingent upon the underlying conduct. If an individual feels that he or she is at risk for harm or has already been harmed, this person can fill out a court-approved form known as a petition. The individual who seeks the injunction is known as the “petitioner,” and the individual who is subject to the terms of an injunction is known as the “respondent.” In the petition, the petitioner must describe in detail the facts that demonstrate that he or she is at risk for harm.
Once a petition is filed against the respondent, he or she must act quickly to seek competent counsel to fight back and to ensure a fair process in court. The respondent must prove to the court that the allegations raised by the petitioner are false, misleading, or misrepresented. It is important to understand that if an injunction is issued against a respondent, he or she will be subject to a whole host of consequences that can affect his or her life for years to come.
At Musca Law, our skilled and nationally-recognized Clearwater Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorneys assist clients in developing the strongest defense strategy possible. Regardless of the circumstances, a respondent must seek qualified counsel immediately after being served with a petition. Keep in mind that although injunctions are civil matters, they can feel like a criminal matter. If you are the subject of an injunction in Clearwater, it is critical that you speak with an attorney at Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057. Do not wait; contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
The Filing of the Petition in Clearwater
Pursuant to Florida law, any individual can file a petition, which is a court-approved form that enables the petitioner to describe, in detail, the facts and circumstances leading him or her to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of harm. The petition also enables the petitioner to choose which injunction applies in his or her case.
Given the fact that the purpose of an injunction in Clearwater is to protect the petitioner from harm, judges often air on the side of caution and grant a temporary injunction to maintain the status quo. This injunction effectively “restrains” the respondent from having contact with the petitioner for at least fifteen days until the final hearing is held. At the hearing, the petitioner and respondent have the right to present their respective positions before a judge who has the discretion to either grant or deny a permanent injunction.
The Different Types of Injunctions in Clearwater, Florida
As previously noted, there are several types of injunctions that a petitioner can pursue which are meant to protect him or her from harm. In Clearwater, an individual can file a petition and choose which injunction applies in his or her case. Accordingly, the types of injunctions that can be sought are as follows:
- Dating Violence Injunctions
- Stalking Injunctions
- Sexual Violence Injunctions
- Repeat Violence Injunctions
- Domestic Violence Injunctions
In some instances, a petitioner may allege facts that support the need for more than one of the above injunctions. Notwithstanding, the result will be the same – to stop the respondent from having further contact with the petitioner.
Domestic Violence Injunctions in Clearwater
In Clearwater, Florida, an individual can pursue a domestic violence injunction to prevent violent behavior from continuing. To be eligible to receive a domestic violence injunction, a petitioner must establish that he or she was harmed by a respondent who shares a child in common and/or who lives in the same dwelling. Domestic violence refers to several types of criminal acts, including battery, assault, false imprisonment, and kidnapping. Keep in mind that threats to commit any of these acts qualify as domestic violence, potentially warranting a domestic violence injunction.
Dating Violence Injunctions in Clearwater
Dating violence is similar to domestic violence, however, there is no requirement that the parties share a child and/or reside in the same dwelling. Conversely, dating violence applies to those who have a romantic and/or intimate relationship. Notwithstanding, the underlying harmful conduct alleged by the petitioner is typically the same as that of domestic violence. If the relationship between a petitioner and respondent ended, a judge can still issue a dating violence injunction if it lasted at least six months prior to the time that the petition was filed.
Stalking Injunctions in Clearwater
Under Florida law, Statute Section 784.048(2) provides that an individual may pursue criminal charges for stalking if the respondent “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.” Stalking is a misdemeanor in the first degree, which is associated with a jail term for up to one year and a monetary fine of up to $1,000. Keep in mind that a person who allegedly is stalking another person does not need to face criminal charges in order to be subject to a stalking injunction. Accordingly, a person who is allegedly being stalked (or cyberstalked) can file a petition for a stalking injunction.
Repeat Violence Injunctions in Clearwater
A petitioner can seek a repeat violence injunction if he or she was allegedly subject to two or more acts of stalking or violence. A judge has the discretion to grant a repeat violence injunction, at least on a temporary basis, if one of the acts of stalking or violence happened within six months prior to the date that the repeat violence injunction petition was filed.
Sexual Violence Injunction in Clearwater
Sexual violence includes sexual acts including rape and lewdness against a minor. In many instances, a sexual violence injunction is often pursued when there is a corresponding criminal matter that is pending concerning the same conduct. However, a petitioner can still file a petition for a sexual violence injunction even if there is no pending criminal case.
The Final Injunction Hearing in Clearwater, Florida
After an individual files a petition for a protective injunction in Clearwater, the judge will immediately determine whether or not to grant a temporary injunction, or he or she could outright deny it. The petitioner must provide detailed allegations in the petition to warrant a temporary injunction. Keep in mind that judges often air on the side of caution to protect the petitioner from future harm. As such, temporary injunctions are typically granted until the time the final hearing on the matter is held. This means that the respondent cannot have any contact with the petitioner until the hearing date.
In Clearwater, a final injunction hearing will be scheduled fifteen days following the issuance of the temporary injunction (a judge can still schedule a final hearing if the temporary injunction is denied). Once the injunction is entered, the respondent will be served by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office with a copy of the petition, the date and time of the hearing, and the temporary injunction order, if approved. Fifteen days is typically an insufficient amount of time for the respondent to prepare his or her case. The date of the hearing is often continued, or delayed, by the attorney for the respondent in order to have enough time to develop the strongest defense strategy possible. If a person represents himself or herself in court, he or she risks losing because he or she is not familiar with the injunction process, the judge, and his or her legal rights.
The Consequences of a Permanent Injunction in Pinellas County
If a judge in Clearwater issues a permanent injunction, the respondent must comply with all of its terms. The first repercussion of a permanent injunction is that the respondent must vacate a shared dwelling and have no further contact with the petitioner. The respondent may also be required to surrender any firearms and ammunition. Oftentimes, judges order the respondent to submit to a mental health evaluation and undergo potential treatment at his or her own expense.
Moreover, injunctions – which are civil orders - are on a person’s public record, which means that anyone can find out about it. This could affect a respondent’s ability to get a job, find suitable housing, or obtain a bank loan. It can also negatively affect the respondent’s relationship with family and friends.
Balancing the needs to safeguard violence victims as well as the wellbeing and reputation of an accused person is complex in Clearwater. Judges want an alleged victim of violence to be protected, however, they do not want a person to be harmed due to allegations that are misleading or completely false. Specifically, a judge can either grant a temporary injunction or decide that the allegations in the petition have no merit. However, if the respondent either fails to show up in court or does not adequately refute the petitioner’s allegations, he or she will be faced with a permanent injunction.
It is vital that a respondent facing a permanent injunction understand the severity of the repercussions of a permanent injunction and how a skilled Clearwater Criminal and Injunction Defense Lawyer can increase his or her chances of having a favorable result in his or her case. While working with an attorney does cost money, the cost of superior legal representation is well worth it when the alternative consequences are, among others, a tarnished reputation, the threat of future criminal liability, infringement on second amendment rights, and the need to undergo a mental evaluation or counseling ordered by a judge. Unfortunately, many people will not understand how serious an injunction matter is until they find themselves in this situation.
The Consequences of Violating a Permanent Injunction in Clearwater
Whether the injunction issued by a Clearwater judge is for repeat violence, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking, a respondent who violates any of these injunctions may be subject to criminal penalties. Otherwise stated, if the petitioner comes into contact with the respondent in any fashion, he or she will face criminal charges, which could be minor or very serious, depending upon what part of the injunction was violated. If a violation is willful, the respondent could face imprisonment, if convicted. That is why it is critical for a respondent to immediately contact a skilled Clearwater Criminal and Injunction Defense Lawyer who can fight for his or her legal rights and develop the strongest defense case possible.
How a Clearwater Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorney Can Make a Difference for You
It is important for a respondent to treat an injunction matter as a criminal case. If a respondent is served with a petition, temporary injunction order, and a document providing the date and time of the final hearing, he or she should presume that his or her constitutional rights are at stake. If a respondent fails to appear in court with strong legal representation, he or she is likely to face a permanent injunction that is publicly available by conducting a simple background search.
Once a respondent contacts a skilled Clearwater Injunction Defense Attorney, his or her attorney, once hired, will examine and obtain all of the documentation and statements made in the petition for an injunction. Said lawyer will then ask the respondent several questions to build his or her defense strategy and help him or her to obtain all evidence in his or her possession, which could include electronic communications (such as emails, text messages, and social media postings) as well as any telephone conversations, etc.
A skilled and reputable Clearwater Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorney is critical to one’s case, as they are familiar with the judge, the court’s procedure, the applicable law, and the ins and outs of the courtroom. Keep in mind that knowing the judge and how he or she typically responds to injunction cases is important in building one’s defense. While judges follow Florida law when issuing an injunction, they have the broad discretion to either grant or deny the injunction. Two judges may reach different conclusions in the same case. Hence, the more knowledgeable the respondent’s attorney is, the better chance that a respondent will have a favorable outcome.
Many individuals believe that they are their own best advocate in court. This may be the case in some legal matters however, when facing a permanent injunction, the best advocate is a qualified Clearwater Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorney who can advise a respondent about their legal rights and develop a strategic defense on his or her behalf. A solid understanding of criminal law is critical to the successful representation of an injunction matter. Without question, of you are a respondent in an injunction matter, you need to work with an attorney who has proven results in Clearwater and throughout the state of Florida.
Contact the Clearwater Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today to Safeguard Your Legal Rights
Injunctions can lead to permanent and devastating consequences for a person in Clearwater, Florida. While the injunction process is a civil matter, the aftermath of an injunction can feel much like a criminal matter. If you have been served with a temporary injunction, you must act quickly to speak with a Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer. At Musca Law, our award-winning Clearwater Criminal Defense and Injunction Defense Lawyers have successfully helped other clients overcome the injunction process. To find out how Musca Law may be able to help you or a loved one facing an injunction and/or criminal charges, contact our office today by calling (888) 484-5057. We are available 24/7 to provide you with the guidance and legal advice you need to move forward.