Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Jacksonville, Florida
Issues of domestic violence are taken very seriously in the state of Florida, and the state allows for injunctions to protect victims. However, allegations of domestic violence can be made falsely or can be exaggerated in a way that greatly harms the accused persons and their families.
Musca Law defends people facing allegations of domestic violence and related injunctions in Jacksonville, Florida, and we can help you understand the steps necessary to protect your freedoms. Contact our office today to discuss your case with an experienced Jacksonville domestic violence injunction defense attorney.
Jacksonville Restraining Orders Against Violence
Domestic violence injunctions in Jacksonville fall under a category of protective and restraining orders for victims in the state of Florida. Courts in Florida can grant five types of injunctions against violence, all of which are intended to prohibit threatening contact and protect Florida citizens from first-time or repeat episodes of violence.
The five types of injunctions against violence in Florida include:
- Domestic Violence Injunctions
- Sexual Violence Injunctions
- Dating Violence Injunctions
- Repeat Violence Injunction
- Stalking Injunctions
Each of the five types of injunctions involves different circumstances and statutory requirements, but all five share commonalities of process. In a case involving any injunction against violence in Jacksonville, the person seeking the injunction will first file a petition in court asking the court for an injunction. As stated in the filing, the person asking for the injunction is the “petitioner,” and the person opposing the injunction is the “respondent.”
The court will review the documents submitted with the petitioner’s filing and will decide if a temporary injunction should be issued at that time. A temporary injunction is intended to protect the petitioner during the time leading up to the court’s decision about whether to grant a final injunction. The court will also set a hearing for the case, and the respondent will be served with notice of the hearing, along with a copy of all documents in the case. Both parties will attend the hearing, after which the court will decide if a final injunction is appropriate.
Florida’s Definition of ‘Domestic Violence’
Florida Statute § 741.28 defines “domestic violence” as an act of violence that occurs between family members or household members. “Violence” means any criminal act that causes physical injury or death, such as assault, battery, stalking, kidnapping, sexual battery, false imprisonment or any aggravated crime.
Within the same statute are a definitions for “family member” and “household member,” which the law says include spouses, ex-spouses, blood relatives, relatives through marriage, parents of common children, anyone currently living together as a family unit, and anyone who in the past lived together as a family unit.
Requirements to Obtain a Domestic Violence Injunction in Jacksonville
Florida law places certain requirements on the obtainment of domestic violence injunctions in Jacksonville and across the state. According to § 741.30, domestic violence injunctions can be granted under the following circumstances:
- The petitioner is the family member or household member of the respondent; AND
- The petitioner is the victim of domestic violence; OR
- The petitioner has reasonable cause to believe that there is an imminent danger he or she will become the victim of domestic violence.
The law does not require that the petitioner be married or recently married to the respondent, nor does it require that the petitioner continue to share a dwelling with the respondent. Often, domestic violence injunctions involve spouses, but Florida law directly states marriage is not a requirement. It is also not required that there be a pending criminal action or other action between the petitioner and the respondent, though the petitioner does need to list any such action in his or her allegations.
Domestic Violence Injunction Process in Jacksonville
Domestic violence injunctions in Jacksonville are matters of civil law, despite the fact that violations of them can result in criminal charges. The securing of a domestic violence injunction will follow a basic civil process, including the following steps.
- Petition – The process surrounding a domestic violence injunction in Jacksonville begins when the petitioner files a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence. This is a sworn document, meaning the petitioner needs to sign the filing in front of a notary public or in front of the Clerk of Court. The petitioner can include certain supporting documents and information with the petition, but this is not required by law.
- Temporary Injunction – After the court receives the petitioner’s filing, it will review all of the information therein. At this time, and on the basis of the filing alone, the court can choose to issue a temporary injunction in the case. The injunction is as binding as a permanent injunction but lasts only until the court issues its final order in the case.
- Hearing Scheduled – The court will also schedule a hearing in the case when it reviews the petitioner’s filing. Courts typically set the hearing for no later than 15 days from the filing date.
- Service of Process – Leading up to the hearing date, the respondent will be served with process, which is something usually carried out by the sheriff’s office. In a Jacksonville domestic violence injunction case, the Duval County Sheriff’s Office will likely serve the respondent. Service will include notice of the upcoming hearing in the case, a copy of the petition filed in the case, and a copy of any temporary injunction order issued by the court.
- Hearing/Adjudication – With the hearing, the matter will be adjudicated. Both parties will be allowed to call witnesses, question each other’s witnesses, and present other evidence to argue their cases. The respondent will want to make sure he or she has a strong defense that is presented in full at the hearing. This is the opportunity for the court to hear both sides of the case.
- Court Order – Following the hearing, the court will issue an order regarding the injunction. If the court grants an injunction, the respondent will be immediately bound by its terms. If the court denies an injunction, it will also dissolve any temporary injunction it issued in the case, and the respondent will not be prohibited from contact with the petitioner.
There are steps each party will take between the case’s initiation and the court’s final order, but these will vary based on the facts and circumstances. For instance, the parties might file motions for the court’s consideration leading up to the hearing.
Modifying a Jacksonville Domestic Violence Injunction
While a domestic violence injunction is immediately binding, it is capable of being modified or dissolved on motion from either of the parties. Sometimes, the parties might agree to make changes to the injunction. In other cases, one of the parties might oppose the changes requested by the other. Even if the parties agree, the court has to approve any modifications.
The parties are both free to file motions to modify or dissolve the injunction. The party seeking the modification or dissolution has to satisfy the court that the current injunction is no longer appropriate.
Defenses to a Domestic Violence Injunction Case in Jacksonville
It is important to present the best possible defense to a domestic violence injunction in Jacksonville, as a final injunction can greatly affect a respondent’s life. In the event the court grants a final injunction, the respondent might be enjoined (prohibited) from seeing his or her children, living in his or her neighborhood, owning firearms, and going a variety of places. The respondent can also face difficulties in finding new housing and employment because of the injunction.
For these reasons, it is always in the respondent’s best interest to fight the allegations and try to defeat the injunction. Two primary defenses a respondent might raise during a domestic violence injunction case in Jacksonville include:
- The respondent has committed no acts of domestic violence; and
- There is no reasonable cause for the petitioner to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of domestic violence.
If the court is not convinced that domestic violence has occurred or will occur without the injunction, it should not grant the petitioner’s request.
Violations of a Domestic Violence Injunction in Duval County
If the case concludes with a final injunction order, it will be imperative that the respondent understand and follow the court’s order to the letter. Any deviation from the injunction can be considered a violation worthy of criminal charges against the respondent.
The exact terms of every domestic violation injunction will vary based on the facts of the case, but the following actions will be considered violations of an injunction in most cases:
- Engaging in any contact with petitioner other than what is specifically allowed in the court’s order. In some cases, particularly if the parties have shared children, the court might allow indirect contact to facilitate parenting time. Direct contact between the respondent and petitioner is usually prohibited.
- Refusing to move out of any dwelling shared by the parties.
- Refusing to surrender all firearms and ammunition within the respondent’s possession. Surrender of firearms and ammunition is a common component of domestic violence injunctions in Jacksonville.
- Making threats against the petitioner.
- Making threats against the petitioner’s children, family members, friends, or pets.
- Engaging in behavior that is intended to harass the petitioner.
- Stalking the petitioner.
- Committing any act of violence upon the petitioner.
If a respondent is accused of violating a domestic violence injunction in Jacksonville, he or she should retain counsel as soon as possible to fight any pending criminal charges.
Defenses to Jacksonville Domestic Violence Injunction Violations
In the event a respondent is criminally charged for violating a domestic violence injunction, he or she can present a number of defenses, depending on the nature of the alleged violation and the circumstances of the case. Some defenses to a violation charge in Jacksonville might include:
- The contact alleged to be a violation of the injunction order was not intentional. The respondent unintentionally came into contact with the petitioner.
- Proper notice as to the injunction was never provided to the respondent, and he or she did not understand the terms of the injunction.
- The injunction is in conflict with another court order pertaining to the respondent, and the respondent is not able to comply with both. This might happen in situations where the respondent is a party to a child custody order that requires him or her to have contact with the petitioner.
Different defenses might be available to a respondent given the unique facts of each case.
Penalties for Violations of a Jacksonville Domestic Violence Injunction
Any violations of a Jacksonville domestic violence injunction can result in criminal charges. The charges will range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the situations involved in the violation and the presence of prior violations.
- First Violation – A first violation of a domestic violence injunction will generally be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. Potential penalties include a year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
- Second Violation – A second violation will also generally be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, though this can change with the circumstances of the violation.
- Third Violation – A third violation will generally be charged as a third-degree felony. Potential penalties include five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
- Subsequent Violations – All subsequent violations will also be charged as third-degree felonies.
The consequences for violating a domestic violence injunction are dire, which is why respondents must follow the court’s order and move for the court to change the order, rather than failing to comply.
FAQs About Domestic Violence Injunctions in Jacksonville
Below, you will find some questions about Jacksonville domestic violence injunctions that we commonly hear from potential and current clients. Please contact our office if you have additional questions or if you would like to speak to an attorney about a pending case.
I was served with a petition for a domestic violence injunction. What happens now?
If you have received notice of a pending action for a domestic violence injunction in Jacksonville, you likely also received notice of a hearing set in the case. You might have also received a copy of a temporary injunction order. You need to be clear about what is prohibited by the temporary injunction and be sure to follow the order. If you are sharing a home with the petitioner, a temporary order will likely require you to vacate the home. You also need to prepare a defense to present at the hearing. The hearing will be your opportunity to tell the court why it should deny a final injunction.
Because of the complexities of these cases and the consequences on the line, you need to seek the guidance of experienced counsel, like the Jacksonville domestic violence injunction defense lawyers at Musca Law. We can help you understand what you should and should not do and can help you prevail over the injunction request.
What will happen if I don’t respond to the petition at all?
If you do not respond to the petition, meaning you do not file a formal response and you do not attend the hearing, the court will be forced to issue an order based solely on the information it receives from the petitioner. It is much more likely in these circumstances that the court will find for the petitioner and grant an injunction against you. Domestic violence injunctions should always be taken seriously, and we would never advise someone to ignore a pending petition for one.
How will a domestic violence injunction affect me?
If the court overseeing your case grants a final injunction, it will affect your life in a multitude of ways.
- You will likely be prohibited from any contact with the petitioner.
- You might lose custody of your children.
- You might lose your ability to own a firearm.
- You will likely be prohibited from going certain places.
- You will need to move if you share a home with the petitioner.
- You will likely have trouble securing a bank loan, housing, and employment because the injunction is part of the public record.
In addition, there are numerous emotional and social consequences that come with a domestic violence injunction. You might feel alienated from family, friends, and coworkers because of the allegations against you.
How long will I need to comply with the domestic violence injunction?
The court’s order should specify the duration of the injunction. You will need to comply with the order for its full and complete term. In some cases, the injunction will never expire.
What will happen if I violate the domestic violence injunction?
If you act in any way against the injunction order, you could be charged with a crime ranging from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. You could also face civil penalties, such as large fines and a finding of contempt.
Contact Musca Law Today for Superior Representation!
Contact Musca Law today if you are facing a domestic violence injunction in Jacksonville, Florida. Our office provides superior representation to clients, and we offer free case consultations. You can schedule your consultation with a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney when you call (888) 484-5057.