Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Florida Protective Injunction Laws, Offenses, Penalties, and Defenses
Injunctive orders for protection might also be referred to under Florida law as restraining orders or protective injunctions, enable individuals who fear being subject to harm the opportunity to ask the court for additional safety. A court in Fort Walton has the ability to enter an injunctive order for protection that is designed to safeguard people alleging that they are at risk of being harmed by another individual.
Circuit courts in Florida hear thousands of injunctive actions on an annual basis. Although many injunction actions are predicated upon a valid fear of harm, others are based upon false allegations that are raised to exact revenge, hurt, or gain leverage over another person. The misuse of the legal system is rampant in Florida and throughout the country, which serves to erode the confidence people who turn to the court for justice and mercy have in court rulings. Keep in mind that even if the underlying allegations are false, it is not always the case that the truth will be the determining factor. This issue is amplified when a person’s rights and freedoms are taken away.
The presiding judge who issues the order for an injunction to prevent violence takes away an individual’s freedom to move freely, raise a child, talk to whomever he or she desires, work in certain places, possess a firearm, and to live in certain places. Undoubtedly, however, a person has the right to live their life without being in fear of harm. As a result, judges often favor the protection of an individual (known as the petitioner) over the rights of the individual who is facing criminal accusations (known as the respondent). The person who commits a crime is presumed innocent. However, judges allow the presumption of innocence to decay in favor of impinging on a person’s rights without the benefit of a jury verdict.
In light of the above, it is important to understand that the playing field can be leveled if you hire a skilled attorney to represent you. Only an experienced Fort Walton Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorney who is dedicated to safeguarding the rights of the accused and upholding the notion that an individual is innocent until proven guilty can give you a fair chance to have your side of the story known.
When you call Musca Law at 888-484-5057 to talk with one of our Fort Walton Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorneys, you are arming yourself with the strongest resources possible to defeat the allegations that have been raised against you. While we cannot guarantee a certain outcome in your case, our lawyers have a combined more than 150 years of experience successfully handling countless injunction cases throughout the state of Florida. Do not wait and see what could happen with your case. There is way too much riding on the outcome of the petition to be nonchalant. Before you know it, you could be living under the thumb of the court for the remainder of your life if you do not act swiftly.
Categories of Fort Walton Beach Injunctions for Protection
Under Florida law, Fort Walton Beach judges are able to issue an order for protection to individuals who seek this remedy in court. Each type of protective injunction requires a specific form of harm to be alleged or a specific relationship.
A judge in the Fort Walton Beach circuit court receives the authority from Florida statutory authority to issue injunctions for protection. The Florida state assembly passed laws enabling courts to issue injunctions for:
- Prevention of Dating Violence, §784.046 of the Florida Statutes,
- Prevention of Repeat Violence, §784.046 of the Florida Statutes.
- Prevention of Stalking, §784.0485 of the Florida Statutes,
- Prevention of Domestic Violence, §741.30 of the Florida Statutes, and
- Prevention of Sexual Violence, §784.046 of the Florida Statutes.
Each of the above injunctions, if issued, could cause a person to lose his or her freedom. This is why it is critical to immediately consult with an accomplished and aggressive Fort Walton Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorney.
In certain instances, the petitioner may be able to seek more than one injunction, given the facts and circumstances of his or her case. In order to obtain an injunction, the petitioner must fill out a court-approved form, known as a petition, that must be signed in front of the court clerk or notarized. The petition submitted to the court by the petitioner must provide sufficient details so that the respondent understands that of which he or she stands accused.
Injunctions for Dating Violence in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Dating violence occurs between two individuals who were or are currently in an intimate or romantic relationship of some lasting duration. In order to obtain a dating violence injunction, the petitioner must establish that the parties were in a qualifying relationship, even if the relationship no longer exists. Courts will review the past six months from the time that the petitioner filed the petition in determining the relationship.
Injunctions for Domestic Violence in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Injunctions for domestic violence involve threats or acts of violence that occur between people living within the same household or members of the same family. Family members constitute people who were married, are currently married, once resided with one another, related by blood, share a child together (even if the parties do not live together), or hold themselves out as a family while residing together.
Injunctions for Stalking in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
In Florida, stalking is a very serious criminal offense. Florida Statutes §784.048(2) indicates that stalking occurs when one person willfully or maliciously, harasses, follows someone, or cyberstalks another without valid legal justification. Cyberstalking also has a particular definition under Florida law. Florida Statutes §784.048(1)(d) indicates that cyberstalking occurs when a person engages a the sending of photos, text message, emails, social media posts, and any other electronic forms on communication as part of a pattern of contacting another individual in a way that leads to severe emotional distress for the recipient. Courts also consider the act of unlawful access of a person’s internet accounts without permission cyberstalking if the actions cause substantial emotional distress to the victim.
Injunctions Repeat Violence in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
A judge in Fort Walton can issue a repeat violence injunction if the petitioner sufficiently establishes that the respondent engaged in two or more acts of violence towards his or her person and/or family members. The petition must state specific acts of violence; the petition cannot just simply state that the respondent is a violent person. The court will allow the petitioner to proceed if the most recent act of violence happened within six months of the petition.
Injunction Sexual Violence in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Under Florida law, sexual violence pertains to sexual battery, sexual assault, lewd and lascivious conduct, or any other sexually violent offense. In order to obtain a sexual violence injunction, the petitioner must cooperate with law enforcement during their criminal investigation of the matter. Keep in mind that a petitioner may obtain a sexual violence injunction even if there is no corresponding criminal case. If the respondent is in prison, the petitioner may apply for a sexual violence injunction within 90 days of his or her release.
Procedure to Obtain a Protective Injunction in Okaloosa County
Petitioners seeking a protective injunction in Fort Walton Beach must first complete a petition. The individual filling out the petition will have to provide truthful information as the petitioner will be required to swear that the information is accurate. The signing of a form that contains statements that are false could lead to charges for perjury.
The petitioner will be required to provide contact information for the person against whom the protective order is being sought. Within the document, the petitioner must include a detailed explanation as to why he or she is in need of the court’s protection.
The petitioner will then file the document with the clerk of the court. The judge handling the case will review the information and then decide whether or not to grant a temporary order of protection. When the judge makes such a decision, the respondent will not be present to defend against the allegations. For this reason, the hearing is considered ex parte.
If the judge determines, based only on the petitioner’s claims, that the respondent presents a threat to the petitioner, then that judge will grant the temporary order of protection, which will remain in place until the date of the hearing. In making this decision, the judge may only look to the information contained within the pleadings. While the judge has the authority to deny the temporary order of protection, many judges will error on the side of caution and grant such an order.
Temporary orders of protections are not valid for more than fifteen days. The court will be required to hold a hearing within the fifteen days in order to make a determination on whether or not to order a permanent injunction.
Within the fifteen days, the sheriff’s office will attempt to locate and serve the respondent. The sheriff will provide the respondent with all documentation, including the pleadings and the temporary order of protection if one has been ordered.
Under the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Florida State Constitution, a respondent cannot be held liable for any violations of an order of which he or she has not received notice. This protection, however, will not be effective if the court finds that the respondent actively attempted to thwart the sheriff’s efforts to complete service. In these situations, the court deems the respondent to have been “constructively served” and will hold the individual accountable for violations of the order.
Respondents should accept the service in order to understand what they are prohibited from doing and so they can prepare for the formal hearing in which they will have the opportunity to defend against the petitioner’s allegations.
It is important that the respondent use this time to hire an experienced Fort Walton Beach Criminal and Injunction Defense Lawyer. While any attorney with a Florida law license can technically represent the respondent, hiring an attorney who is knowledgeable about the procedure and the potential criminal charges that may be filed in conjunction with the petition will be in the best position to develop a strong strategic defense.
While criminal charges often are filed when a petition for a protective injunction is filed, there is no need that this be the case. Specifically, the petitioner is not required to cooperate with the police in the criminal case in order to file a petition or have an order of protection entered against the respondent.
On the day of the hearing, the petitioner will have the opportunity to present his or her case, and the respondent will as well. The petitioner will provide testimony, and the respondent is also able to testify. It is important to remember that the respondent has a constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination. As such, the respondent’s decision to testify is a complex one that should only be made with legal counsel and for strategic purposes.
Testifying witnesses will be subject to cross-examination from the opposing counsel. Evidence, including written documents, emails, text messages, medical records, and images, all may be present by either or both sides.
The respondent’s attorney will often defend against the accusation in ways that are similar to defenses in a criminal case. Common defenses may include self-defense, alibi, mistaken identity, unclean hands, mutual combat, and other defenses that are relevant depending on the facts of the case. The respondent’s attorney will also likely present reasons that the petitioner has to make untruthful allegations. Perhaps the petitioner is attempting to seek vengeance, or the parties are in the midst of a custody battle. It is also possible for the parties to seek a continuance. The respondent may wish to postpone a hearing in order to have adequate time to build a defense strategy. In some cases, postponing can lead to the petitioner having a change of mind. This could often be the case if the petitioner filed out of anger and simply needs time to rethink his or her actions. During this time, the temporary injunction will remain in place.
At the final hearing, the judge will make a ruling as to whether to grant the permanent injunction. The court is tasked with evaluating the truthfulness of the parties and witnesses and determining the strength of the evidence presented by either side. If the petition is denied, then the temporary order will immediately cease to be in effect.
When a Petition is Granted in Fort Walton Beach
If the petition is granted against the respondent, the consequences are severe. As a result of the injunction, the petitioner will likely be prevented from communicating with or contacting the petitioner, and potentially that individual’s family members. If the party shares children, the respondent could be prevented from contacting the children. The court may order counseling of various types, including batterer counseling or drug or alcohol counseling. There will likely be places which the respondent will be required to avoid. The injunction will also require that the respondent forfeit his or her firearms to local law enforcement.
While the terms of the injunction itself are harsh and limiting on the respondent, the consequences can have impacts that many people do not expect. These documents are public, and thus if a background check is performed on the respondent, the injunction will be included in that search. Housing opportunities and potential jobs may be lost as a result of the injunction. Banks may deny loans and educational opportunities may also disappear based on the stigma that is attached to a person against whom an injunction was entered. Hiring an attorney from Musca Law can help respondents fight against these results.
Modification, Termination, and Extension of Fort Walton Beach Injunctions
Judges can enter permanent injunctions, but they can also enter orders that are set to expire at a certain point in time. If the injunction is set to expire, the petitioner has the right to file for an injunction as long as he or she does so 30 days prior to the point at which that injunction would expire. The respondent can defend against the injunction being extended.
The parties both also have the right to move the court to modify or terminate the order at any time. The party moving to terminate the order, or to change the terms, must have a compelling reason for doing so. It is possible that the order is no longer necessary, or that the order creates an undue hardship on the respondent.
Musca Law is Here to Help
The Fort Walton Beach Criminal Defense Attorneys at Musca Law are ready to stand up for your rights. Hiring an attorney from Musca Law can help respondents fight against the injunction and protect their rights and freedoms.
Contact Musca Law’s dedicated team of attorneys today at 888-484-5057 to learn more about your legal rights and options.