Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Jacksonville, Florida
At Musca Law, we understand the difficulties associated with a sexual violence injunction in Jacksonville, Florida. We have the experience necessary to defend our clients in injunction cases as well as to modify or dissolve an existing injunction against them. If you have been served with a petition for a sexual violence injunction in Jacksonville, contact us today at (888) 484-5057 to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers.
Jacksonville Injunctions Against Violence
Injunctions against violence in Florida are intended to protect victims from repeat or imminent acts of violence. These injunctions are commonly referred to as restraining orders or orders of protection. Florida courts can grant injunctions to safeguard victims from the following five forms of violence:
- Sexual violence
- Repeat violence
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
With any of the five types of injunctions listed above, the petitioner will begin the process by filing documentation with the court that alleges threats of violence or violence and that asks the court to afford him or her injunctive relief. If the court grants the injunction, the respondent will be prohibited from certain behavior. This typically involves contact with the petitioner and any conduct involving the petitioner.
Understanding the Basic Components of Injunctions Against Violence in Duval County
Through the facts and issues will vary, a case involving an injunction against violence in Jacksonville has some basic components. Below are aspects of an injunction that are the same from case to case:
- Parties. With all five forms of injunctions, the person seeking protection is called the “petitioner” and the person who is the subject of the injunction is known as the “respondent.”
- Petition as sworn document. This means that the petition must be signed by the petitioner in front of a notary of the Clerk of the Court.
- Potential temporary injunction. In any case where an injunction against violence is sought, the court may issue a temporary injunction on the basis of the facts alleged in the petition. The injunction will remain in effect until the court decides whether or not to issue a permanent injunction.
- Service of process. This is typically effectuated by the local sheriff’s office in each injunction case. In Jacksonville, this would be the Duval County Sheriff’s Office. The officer will serve the respondent with a copy of the petition and a temporary injunction, if one is issued, along with notice of a hearing that is set for the matter.
- Hearing. After a petition for an injunction against violence is sought, the court will set the matter for a hearing, which typically occurs within fifteen days of the filing of the petition. Both the petitioner and the respondent will attend this hearing and have the chance to argue for and against a permanent injunction.
- Evidence. At the hearing for any one of the five types of injunctions, both the respondent and the petitioner may present evidence for the court’s consideration. Evidence can be in the form of witnesses, printouts of texts messages, emails, and telephone records.
- The court’s decision. Pursuant to the presentation of all evidence in each type of injunction, the court will render a determination as to whether a permanent injunction should be approved. If the court grants a final injunction, it will be effective immediately. If the court denies the injunction, it will lift any temporary injunction that it issued in the case.
- Violation penalties. A respondent can face serious consequences for violating the terms of an injunction, including hefty monetary fines, jail time, and findings of contempt.
Definition of ‘Sexual Violence’ in Florida
Under Florida Statute § 784.046, “sexual violence” is defined as the following:
- Sexual battery;
- Enticing or luring a child;
- Sexual performance by a child;
- Lewd, lascivious acts involving a child under age 16;
- Lewd, luscious acts performed in front of a child under age 16; or
- Forcible felonies that involve sexual acts or attempted sexual acts;
The law provides that the above qualify as sexual violence, regardless of whether or not criminal charges were ever filed and whether any charges were dropped or reduced.
Requirements to Seek a Sexual Violence Injunction in Jacksonville
In order to seek a sexual violence injunction in Jacksonville, the petitioner must demonstrate that:
- He or she has been the victim of sexual violence; OR
- He or she is the parent or guardian of a child who has experienced sexual violence; AND
- He or she has contacted law enforcement about the alleged acts of sexual violence; AND
- He or she is cooperating with criminal proceedings that might be initiated in connection with the alleged acts of sexual violence.
Under Florida law, a person may seek a sexual violence injunction if the respondent is currently imprisoned on a sexual violence conviction and is scheduled for release in 90 days. The conviction for which the respondent is serving a prison sentence must be connected to acts perpetrated against the petitioner.
Sexual Violence Injunction Process in Jacksonville
The first step that takes place in a sexual violence injunction case in Jacksonville is the filing of a Petition for Protection Against Sexual Violence. The petitioner will file the petition and any supporting documentation that he or she wants the court to consider.
Next, the court will then review all of the evidence submitted with the filing and determine whether to issue a temporary sexual violence injunction, It is important to understand that the respondent has no say as to whether this is granted. Keep in mind that if a temporary injunction is issued, the respondent must terminate all contact with the petitioner, which might include vacating a shared dwelling.
About two weeks after the filing of the petition, the petitioner and the respondent will attend a hearing on the injunction and will present evidence in support of their respective positions. If a final injunction is granted, the respondent must immediately comply with its terms, or else he or she will face criminal and civil penalties.
Modifying a Jacksonville Sexual Violence Injunction
At any time after a sexual violence injunction has been issued in Jacksonville, one or both of the parties can petition for the court to either dissolve or modify it. In some instances, the parties may agree that changing or dissolving the order is warranted. In many cases however, one party will request this from the court and the other party will oppose it. The person who is seeking a change or dissolution will need to demonstrate to the court that the injunction is no longer necessary or that some of its terms are unnecessary.
Violation of a Sexual Violence Injunction in Jacksonville
If a final sexual violence injunction has been ordered, and the respondent does not adhere to all of its terms, he or she could be found in violation of the order. Typically, violations of sexual violence injunctions in Jacksonville include the following types of behavior:
- Contacting the petitioner in any manner or by any means;
- Going to or close to (usually within 500 feet) the petitioner’s house;
- Going to or close to the petitioner’s workplace or school;
- Keeping ammunition or firearms (surrender of ammunition and firearms is a common term in injunctions against violence);
- Buying new ammunition or firearms;
- Making threats against the petitioner;
- Carrying out any acts of violence against the petitioner.
The court that ordered the sexual violence injunction has the authority to impose certain penalties upon the respondent should he or she violate its terms. This includes imposing monetary fines, jail time, and holding the respondent in contempt of court. Specifically, a violation of a sexual violence injunction is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries with it a fine of up to $1,000 and a prison term of up to one year.
If a respondent is convicted of violating a sexual violence injunction for two or more times, any subsequent violation will be charged as a third-degree felony, which is associated with a $5,000 fine and a prison term of up to five years.
Defenses to a Sexual Violence Injunction Case in Jacksonville
If a petition for a sexual violence injunction has been filed in Jacksonville, we urge the respondent to hire experienced counsel. While there is no legal requirement for a person to have legal representation in these cases, you have a far better chance of successfully challenging the petition if you’re working alongside of a skilled Florida criminal defense lawyer.
One of the first things your lawyer will want to do is to request a continuance of the hearing (meaning, an extension date) on the injunction. Due to delays in service of process, you may have a limited time between the receipt of notice of the hearing and the hearing date. You have the right to defend yourself, which is why your Florida criminal defense attorney may ask for more time to prepare for the injunction hearing.
During the hearing, your attorney will work to demonstrate to the court that a final injunction is unwarranted. Your attorney will cross-examine any witnesses that are called by the petitioner and may even call witnesses to testify on your behalf. Your attorney may also use tangible evidence to demonstrate any of the following:
- No sexual violence between you and the petitioner has occurred.
- No sexual violence between you and the petitioner is at risk of occurring.
- The petitioner did not report any acts of sexual violence to authorities.
- The petitioner is not cooperating with criminal proceedings underway.
The defenses sought in your case as well as the methods for presenting those defenses will be determined by the circumstances that are present. Call Musca Law today to start discussing your defense with one of our Jacksonville sexual violence injunction defense attorneys.
FAQs About Sexual Violence Injunctions in Jacksonville
When clients first reach out to us concerning their Jacksonville sexual violence injunction case, they typically ask a number of questions. As such, we have listed below some of the most common questions that we hear and the answers we give to prospective clients. Please contact our office if you have any questions about the sexual violence injunction process in Jacksonville or if you require representation in a sexual violence injunction case.
What happens if someone is seeking a sexual violence injunction against me in Jacksonville
If a person has filed a petition for a sexual violence injunction against you in Jacksonville, the court will first review the documents in the filing and determine whether to issue a temporary injunction. The court will also set a hearing date for the matter, and you will be served with a copy of the petition, the notice of the hearing, and a copy of the order granting the temporary injunction. If there is a temporary injunction that has been issued against you, it is critical that you adhere to ALL of its terms. You will need to attend the hearing at the time and dater specified on the hearing notice. This will provide you with the opportunity to defend yourself against the injunction.
What will happen if I don’t challenge the request for an injunction?
If you fail to challenge the petitioner’s request, the court will determine whether to issue the injunction based solely upon the petitioner’s evidence. The court, in this instance, is likely to grant the injunction without any kind of defense from you. It is important to always take these cases very seriously, as a sexual violence injunction in Jacksonville can have serious legal repercussions. This is why we urge respondents to retain competent counsel to develop a strong defense on their behalves.
What do I need to do if an injunction is issued against me?
If the court issues a final injunction against you, it is critical that you are aware of and understand all of its terms. In other words, it is important to fully understand what is prohibited and to stay in complete compliance with the order. In a typical sexual violence injunction case, the respondent is ordered to move out of a shared dwelling and to surrender any firearms or ammunition within his or her possession. The respondent will also be barred from contacting the petitioner or being present at the petitioner’s residence, work, and school. The exact terms in place in your case will be detailed in the injunction order.
How long will the injunction remain in effect?
The order issued by the court spells out the terms of the injunction, including its duration. The court may have ordered for the injunction to remain in effect for a certain period of time, or indefinitely. You or the petitioner can ask the court to modify the duration of the injunction.
What happens if I do not comply with the injunction against me in Jacksonville?
If you fail to comply with an order for an injunction, you could be faced with civil and criminal penalties. Specifically, violating a sexual violence injunction in Jacksonville can be charged as either a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony, depending upon the facts of each case. If you violate a sexual violence injunction multiple times, you could be faced with serious monetary fines and several years in prison.
Are sexual violence injunctions in Jacksonville public record?
Yes, any sexual violence injunction issued in Jacksonville will be part of the public record, which means that it will come up on a background check, which can lead a person to face difficulties finding housing or gainful employment. This is one of the reasons we tell clients to take sexual violence injunction cases seriously.
Do I need to hire an attorney for a Jacksonville sexual violence injunction case?
Under Florida law, neither party in a sexual violence injunction case is required to secure legal representation. However, we always answer this question as “absolutely.” If an injunction is issued against you, you will face serious restrictions in your life, and have certain freedoms taken away from you, including the right to possess a firearm. Moreover, since the matter is part of the public record, a sexual violence injunction on someone’s record can cause social, professional, and financial issues in your life.
The consequences associated with a sexual violence injunction in Jacksonville are numerous. You need to fight to protect your rights, and hiring an experienced attorney is the best way to do that. Call Musca Law today to discuss your case with one of our dedicated Florida criminal defense lawyers.
Contact Musca Law Today! Your freedom and livelihood depend upon it!
If someone is seeking a sexual violence injunction against you in Jacksonville, call Musca Law today. You can reach us at (888) 484-5057 to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Jacksonville criminal defense attorney.