Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Victims of domestic violence in Fort Lauderdale may seek to obtain protection from the person alleged to have committed acts of domestic violence. In many cases, individuals facing allegations of domestic violence are either already facing criminal charges or are the subject of a criminal investigation. However, some allegations of domestic violence may not be the subject of any criminal matter, but instead may be the subject of a domestic violence injunction, which is a civil matter – not criminal.
Domestic violence is a serious matter, and all allegations deserve full attention and investigation. However, while a substantial number of allegations of domestic violence in Fort Lauderdale are true, many others are either false or misleading. When false or misleading allegations lead to a domestic violence injunction, a person’s rights are on the line. While a domestic violence injunction does not result in jail time or any other criminal penalties, violation of the injunction can lead to criminal charges. As such, all individuals facing domestic violence criminal charges and/or a domestic violence injunction must move quickly to retain a superior Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense and Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer.
Musca Law serves clients throughout Florida who face a range of criminal charges as well as 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 Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Injunction Lawyers of Musca Law can help you, contact our office today by calling (888) 484-5057.
The Protective Injunction Process in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
When facing a domestic violence injunction, it helps to have a general understanding of (1) what a protective injunction/protective order is, and (2) what to expect after being served with a Fort Lauderdale domestic violence injunction. Additionally, by preparing for what to expect, individuals facing domestic violence injunctions will have an opportunity to work with an attorney and build a defense.
A protective injunction, also known as a protective order, restraining order, or simply, injunction, is a civil court order that is used to protect victims of alleged abuse and violence. Under Florida law, individuals can seek five different types of injunctions, which include the following:
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions.
In an injunction proceeding, the person seeking the injunction is the “petitioner,” and the person who is served with the injunction is called the “respondent.” To seek the injunction, the petitioner must file a petition in court using a court-approved form. In the petition, the petitioner will identify the type of injunction he or she is seeking to obtain, the facts underlying the allegations of domestic violence, and any available evidence to support the allegations. A judge will then review the petition and either grant the injunction – which is temporary – or denies the petition.
If a judge issues the domestic violence injunction, a hearing will be scheduled where both the petitioner and the respondent will appear to present their sides of the case. After the hearing is scheduled, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office will serve the respondent with a copy of the petition, which will list the date to appear in court – which is no later than fifteen (15) days after the issuance of the domestic violence injunction. Because 15 days does not provide a respondent a lot of time to prepare for a very important court hearing, a respondent who is served with a domestic violence injunction must move quickly to speak with a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer.
With the help of an attorney, a respondent can seek a continuance by filing a motion in court. A continuance will postpone the injunction hearing to a later date, which allows the respondent and his or her attorney to prepare for the hearing fully. Having more time to investigate the allegations identified in the petition can help a respondent have a better case in court to refute the allegations. Once the hearing ultimately happens, both sides will present arguments and evidence in the form of documents and potentially witness testimony. However, unlike a criminal proceeding where a jury determines whether to convict a defendant, in a protective injunction proceeding, a judge will make the final decision after hearing and seeing all available evidence.
After a full review of the evidence, the judge will either make the temporary injunction permanent or will terminate the preliminary injunction, ruling in favor of the respondent. If a permanent injunction is entered, the judge may identify an expiration date which could last weeks, months, years, or the injunction may be intended to last indefinitely.
What Happens if a Judge Issues a Domestic Violence Injunction in Fort Lauderdale?
Even though civil injunction proceedings do not send people to jail, facing criminal consequences associated with an injunction proceeding can lead to jail time. In some cases, respondents accused of committing acts of domestic violence may already be facing criminal charges or could be the subject of a criminal investigation. In other cases, a respondent may only be facing a potential domestic violence injunction. While the injunction itself does not lead to criminal penalties, the violation of the injunction can lead to criminal charges. As such, respondents should treat a domestic violence injunction proceeding as a criminal matter even if no related criminal matter exists.
What Qualifies as Domestic Violence Under 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 for parents who have a child in common, the key factor that defines domestic violence is that the victim and alleged abuser currently live together or have lived together in the past.
Requirements for Obtaining a Domestic Violence Injunction in Broward County Florida
In addition to having a full understanding of the protective injunction process in Fort Lauderdale, individuals facing domestic violence injunctions should be aware of the specific requirements associated with obtaining such an injunction under Florida law. One reason why having an understanding of these requirements is important is that a failure to meet such requirements can be grounds for the denial of a requested injunction. However, many respondents may not know how to raise certain defenses and arguments in court. A qualified attorney will quickly determine whether a petitioner has met all legal requirements.
Under § 741.30, a petitioner seeking a domestic violence injunction in Fort Lauderdale must meet the following requirements:
- The petitioner has proven 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.
Although domestic violence harms numerous innocent victims, all individuals accused of domestic violence deserve to be heard in court and deserve to be represented by a highly skilled attorney. A person facing a domestic violence injunction in Fort Lauderdale should have an opportunity to present his/her side of the story in court. While this can be done alone, it is best to allow a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer to handle the matter.
The Aftermath of a Domestic Violence Injunction in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
A domestic violence injunction can be devastating to a person’s reputation and livelihood. A person will be publicly branded as a person who has committed acts of domestic violence, even in cases where a person has not been charged with a crime. Civil injunctions are available publicly and will show up on a background check. Additional consequences of domestic violence injunctions in Florida include, among others, the following:
- A limit on the distance a respondent must maintain from the petitioner;
- Surrendering of firearms and ammunition while the domestic violence injunction is in effect;
- Undergoing a mental health evaluation;
- Attending counseling sessions at the respondent’s expenses; and
- Facing criminal charges if a judge finds that a respondent has violated the domestic violation injunction, no matter how minor the violation is.
It is important to keep in mind that all domestic violence injunctions are unique. The facts underlying allegations are unique. Likewise, defenses to such allegations will be unique. The language of the domestic violence injunction will be shaped to address the alleged conduct at issue. As such, a respondent in one case may face different consequences than a respondent in another case. Without the help of a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer,
Can a Domestic Violence Injunction Be Terminated or Modified in Fort Lauderdale, Florida?
As with many civil court orders, domestic violence injunctions in Fort Lauderdale can be terminated or modified in certain circumstances. Because the parties involved in a domestic violence injunction matter are household or family members, it is not uncommon for the parties to make amends, especially when the parties are parents to the same child. If a petitioner wishes to terminate a domestic violation injunction for any reason, he or she can do so by filing a motion in court. Likewise, a respondent can seek termination or modification of a domestic violence injunction by filing a motion in court. A judge will review the motions and evaluate any evidence which supports the reason why a domestic violence injunction should be terminated or modified.
Domestic violence injunctions typically have expiration dates, but in some cases, such injunctions may last indefinitely unless they are modified or terminated before the expiration date. If a domestic violence injunction in Fort Lauderdale does have an expiration date, a petitioner who wishes to extend the duration of the injunction must do so by filing a motion in court at least thirty (30) days before the injunction’s expiration date.
How a Domestic Violence Injunction Can be Violated in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Given the nature and purpose of protective injunctions, courts take violations of such injunctions very seriously. As such, any violation can lead to potential criminal charges. Depending on the specific language of a domestic violence injunction in Fort Lauderdale, a respondent can violate the injunction in many ways, and in many cases, such violations are not intentional. Examples of how a respondent can violate a domestic violence injunction include the following:
- The respondent did not maintain the required distance from the petitioner (this violation often happens by accident if the parties happen to cross paths in a public location);
- The respondent allegedly commits a repeat act of domestic violence;
- The respondent is either the subject of a criminal investigation concerning allegations of domestic violence, or the respondent has been charged with acts of domestic violence;
- The respondent did not surrender all firearms or ammunition in accordance with the injunction;
- The respondent allegedly threatened the petitioner with physical harm; and
- The respondent did not attend the required counseling sessions.
Many respondents unknowingly violate domestic violence injunctions in Fort Lauderdale simply because they do not understand the severity of the consequences resulting from a violation. Additionally, a respondent may accidentally come into contact with a petitioner at the grocery store or gas station. In such cases, the respondent should not be deemed in violation of a domestic violence injunction. However, it is best to have an attorney make such an argument in court rather than a respondent appear alone to defend him or herself.
Under Florida law, the potential criminal consequences associated with violating a domestic violence injunction in Fort Lauderdale include the following:
- First Violation – Violating a domestic violence injunction for the first time is a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida law. If convicted, a respondent faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Second Violation – Violating a domestic violence injunction for the second time is also a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida law, and conviction may result in jail time of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. In some cases, a respondent may be accused of multiple violations of a domestic violence injunction at once. In such cases, a person convicted of more than one count of violating a domestic violence injunction could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
- Third Violation – Violating a domestic violence injunction for the third time is a third-degree felony under Florida law. If convicted, a respondent faces up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Fourth or Subsequent Violation – Violating a domestic violence injunction for a fourth or subsequent time is also a third-degree felony under Florida law, and conviction may result in jail time of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000. Felonies have much more severe consequences than misdemeanors, as constitutional rights are on the line. Multiple violations lead to multiple felony charges, and the conviction of multiple charges means that jail time can be assessed for each conviction separately.
Why You Need an Attorney to Defend Your Rights in Court
The necessity of retaining a highly skilled and qualified Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer after being served with such an injunction cannot be stressed enough. When allegations of domestic violence can lead to both civil and criminal penalties, respondents need strong legal representation in court to minimize the harshness of the potential consequences if a judge ultimately issues an injunction. To build the best defense possible, an attorney with the necessary experience must begin working on a case right away. By identifying the inconsistencies in a petition seeking a domestic violation injunction, the attorney can shape a defense that sheds light on the weaknesses in a petitioner’s case. Simply put, without an attorney handling a domestic violence injunction matter, a respondent is at a disadvantage when seeking to fight the injunction in court.
Contact the Fort Lauderdale 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 Fort Lauderdale 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.