Dating Violence Injunction Lawyers in Gainesville, Florida
Individuals who are served with petitions for dating violence injunctions are often frightened and unsure about the best actions to take in order to protect themselves. Responding to these serious allegations frequently leads to severe stress and uneasiness about the future. Any time a person is facing these allegations, he or she must act immediately to protect his or her rights.
Protective orders, known as injunctions, are used to protect victims of violence from their alleged abusers. The person who files such an injunction is termed the "petitioner," while the person accused of committing acts of violence is referred to as the "respondent."
Because courts take such matters very seriously, it is vital that a respondent in one of these cases takes steps to protect themselves, including hiring an experienced legal advocate who is capable of developing a strong defense against the injunction and the allegations.
Under Florida law, protective injunctions are divided into five different types that an alleged victim of violence can seek, including:
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Stalking Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions; and
- Sexual Violence Injunctions.
Any protective injunction entered in Gainesville is a legal proceeding that can lead to serious consequences. Although courts categorize protective injunctions as civil cases, they frequently handle subject matters that involve allegations of criminal conduct. Accordingly, when facing a dating violence injunction, your rights will often be at stake. It is critical that you understand the ways in which the injunction may impact your life.
At Musca Law, our defense attorneys work to protect the rights of people accused of criminal dating violence charges as well as civil injunctions. We have offices located throughout Florida and are ready to meet our clients' needs. By calling us anytime 24/7, you can learn how we can work and serve as your advocate. Contact us today at (888) 484-5057.
Dating violence injunction Cases in Alachua County Florida
Dating violence injunction cases are civil rather than criminal matters. However, when a respondent is facing the prospects of one of these five types of injunctions, he or she may also be subject to corresponding criminal charges for committing acts of dating violence. However, it is not necessary for dating violence charges to be sought in attempting to acquire an injunction for dating violence. In order to pursue an injunction based on allegations of dating violence, the person seeking that injunction must meet certain legal requirements. Under Florida Statutes Section 784.046(1)(d),"dating violence" is defined as "violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature."
Petitioners seeking injunctions for dating violence must be able to answer the following questions in the affirmative:
- Were the petitioner and the respondent in a dating relationship within six months of the date that the petition was filed?
- Were the parties in a relationship that was "characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement?"
- Was the involvement between the parties carried out "over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship?"
Once the petitioner has established that the parties were involved in a qualifying relationship, then he or she must be able to show evidence that the respondent perpetrating acts of dating violence against him or her. In order to obtain the injunction, Florida Statute Section 784.046(2)(b) requires that:
"[a]ny person who is the victim of dating violence and has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of another act of dating violence, or any person who has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of an act of dating violence, or the parent or legal guardian of any minor child who is living at home and who seeks an injunction for protection against dating violence on behalf of that minor child, has standing in the circuit court to file a sworn petition for an injunction for protection against dating violence."
In some instances, the petitioner is filing on behalf of a minor. In these cases, state law dictates that the petitioner must have "been an eyewitness to, or have direct physical evidence or affidavits from eyewitnesses of, the specific facts and circumstances that form the basis upon which relief is sought if the party against whom the protective injunction sought is also a parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of the minor child." In the event that the petitioner was not a witness to such acts, then he or she must have "reasonable cause to believe that the minor child is the victim of . . . dating violence."
These legal requirements must be satisfied prior to a presiding judge approving a dating violence injunction. The requirements are taken seriously as the injunction may abridge a respondent's constitutional rights. As such, representing oneself is never recommended. In order to ensure that an individual's rights are adequately protected, anyone facing a dating violence injunction should work alongside a Gainesville Criminal and Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer.
If Someone Petitions the Court for an Injunction Against Me in Gainesville, Florida, What Happens Next?
Step one in the process is the submission of a petition with the court seeking a dating violence injunction. The next steps frequently occur quickly, and not having an attorney to defend against the injunction can put a person's rights in jeopardy. This is due to the fact that he or she may not be familiar with the law, the court's proceeding, and the defenses that may be available in one's case. In order to navigate the system effectively, it is vital to understand the relevant legal process involved in dating injunctions.
Once the petitioner files for the dating violence injunction, the next events will typically take place as follows:
- When a petition is filed, the presiding judge will soon thereafter review it.
- Once completing his or her review of the petition for an injunction, the judge will decide whether or not to grant a temporary injunction.
- The judge will then schedule a dating violence injunction hearing not more than fifteen days after issuing a temporary injunction (keep in mind that even if a judge denies a temporary injunction, he or she may still schedule a final hearing in the matter).
- Next, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office will serve a copy of the petition on the respondent along with a copy of the temporary injunction order (if approved), and a notice indicating the date and time of the final hearing.
- Once the respondent is served, he or she has the option of moving forward in the case, either by himself or herself or through the services of a lawyer.
- In the event that the respondent decides to hire a Gainesville Criminal and Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer, the attorney will likely file a motion to continue the hearing date in order to permit enough time to develop the defense case.
- The final dating violence hearing will follow. At this juncture, the parties have the right to present evidence to the court, such as witness testimony as well as emails, text messages, social media postings, letters, voicemails, and phone logs, etc.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will examine the record in its entirety and determine whether or not to grant or deny a dating violence injunction. If approved, the judge will also decide the timeframe upon which the injunction will last, which could be for a few months, years, or indefinitely.
- If the judge enters a dating violence injunction, then the respondent is legally obligated to comply with the terms of that order. By deviating from that injunction's terms, the respondent could be criminally liable and face related charges.
Criminal charges are clearly a serious matter. The fact that a violation of these injunctions may result in criminal charges means that the respondent's rights require that the accused work quickly to retain the services of a qualified Gainesville Criminal and Dating Violence Defense Attorney. Only an attorney has the experiences and resources necessary to fight for a respondent's legal rights and achieve a successful outcome in his or her case. Otherwise stated, a respondent will face many disadvantages by not having an attorney. The costs affiliated with hiring a legal advocate are well worth the expense because the consequences of a mishandled case are severe.
While a lawyer cannot guarantee the decisions of a judge in any given case, a skilled attorney will be able to ensure that he or she has a strong defense strategy. In addition, attorneys who often represent respondents in dating violence injunction cases in Gainesville are well versed in the applicable law, have a solid understanding of the applicable law, and can give a general overview of the likely outcomes of a given case. These are all qualifies needed to increase one's odds of achieving a favorable outcome for the respondent.
Dating Violence Injunctions in Gainesville, Florida Have Strict Parameters
The parameters of a Florida dating violence injunction are often extremely strict. These injunctions are intended to protect victims of violence from further abuse, and as such, courts take the terms seriously. Hence, respondents must come to terms with the severe limits on their legal rights that will result from an injunction. Keep in mind the terms of a dating violence injunction may vary, as they are tailored based on the facts of each case. The specific terms of an injunction are largely left to the discretion of the presiding judge. Some potential requirements and restrictions include:
- Loss of any firearms and ammunition for the term of the injunction;
- The respondent will be required to maintain a specified distance from the petitioner;
- Required completion of a mental health evaluation;
- Mandatory treatment for mental health issues (at the expense of the respondent);
- Required attendance at future hearings; and
- Criminal charges and prosecutions resulting from any violations of the injunction.
Due to the strict nature of injunctions for dating violence, it is common for a respondent to accidentally violate their terms. For instance, a respondent may unintentionally enter the space that is too close to the petitioner simply by visiting a local store or any other public location. A petitioner may file criminal charges alleging a violation of a dating violence injunction, despite the encounter being accidental. Respondents who do not have a qualified attorney will put themselves in danger of being convicted of violating a dating violence injunction. If a respondent is accused of violating a dating violence injunction, an attorney is required to present an argument on his or her behalf in order to demonstrate to the court the fact that the encounter was merely accidental. As noted previously, no attorney will be able to guarantee a favorable outcome; however, they can give a respondent a fighting chance at having the matter dismissed.
Dating Violence Injunction Violations in Gainesville, Florida
When a court determines that a respondent has violated the terms of a dating violence injunction, the court has the authority to impose criminal penalties, including:
Initial violation – this is a misdemeanor in the first degree, which is associated with up to a one-year prison term, a maximum monetary fine of $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 the injunction at one time. As such, the respondent might be facing numerous counts of violating a repeat violence injunction, which is associated with a prison term of up to two years and a $2,000 monetary fine.
Third violation – this constitutes a felony in the third degree, which is associated with a maximum jail term five years and a maximum monetary penalty $5,000.
Four or more violations – each subsequent violation is a felony in the third degree. Numerous violations can result in multiple felony charges.
Respondents must keep in mind that when a person is convicted on multiple counts, the imprisonment term can add up. Essentially, if the respondent is convicted for two violations, the sentences resulting from those convictions can both be imposed, leading to a lengthy prison term and costly fines. The need to have an experienced legal representative in these situations cannot be overstated. It is vital that anyone served with a petition for an injunction relating to dating violence immediately contact a Gainesville Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer.
Terminating or Modifying a Dating Violence Injunctions in Gainesville, Florida
In certain circumstances, either party may petition for the modification or termination of a dating violence injunction. Petitioners may file for a modification to extend the terms of the injunction or to strengthen the terms if he or she believes that the respondent has violated an entered injunction. Many injunctions are in place for a certain amount of time, and petitioners who feel that they are still at risk at the expiration of that injunction can petition the court to extend the terms. Keep in mind that a petitioner who seeks to extend the duration of a dating violence injunction must do so at least 30 days before the injunction is set to expire. A failure to do so may result in the termination of a dating violence injunction.
In the event one of the parties wishes to modify or terminate the injunction, that person must file a motion to do so. The move to alter the dating violence injunction will also require the presentation of evidence and arguments stating the reasons why the terms of the injunction should be changed or ended. In some instances, the parties are in agreement that the terms of the injunction can be ended. In the event that the parties are not in agreement regarding termination or modification of an underlying dating violence injunction, then each will have the chance to present their respective position to a judge.
Individuals seeking modification or termination of a dating violence injunction should enlist the assistance of a Gainesville Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Self-Representation - What is at Stake?
Respondents and defendants are legally entitled to represent themselves in court as pro se litigants. Although there are situations where a pro se litigant is successful, these individuals make this choice at their own risk and often fail to obtain the results they desire. Because most respondents are unfamiliar with the applicable law, they may overlook a defense that would help them in their case. The failure to raise a defense in one's case often means that the respondent has waived their legal rights. It is important to note that there is no obligation to hire an attorney after an initial consultation. However, by speaking to an attorney, you have an opportunity to ask questions and learn about the allegations you are facing and the potential consequences.
Contact Musca Law's Gainesville Dating Violence Injunction Defense Attorneys Today
If you are facing an injunction for dating violence allegations, contact the attorneys at Musca Law today. Our experienced trial attorneys work with clients throughout Florida on matters involving criminal charges and civil injunction cases. To learn more about how our lawyers can protect your rights, contact us today at (888) 484-5057. We have representatives ready to assist you 24/7 to ensure you can contact us when you need us most.