Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Lakeland, Florida
Defending Against Florida Dating Violence Injunctions
Dating violence injunctions in Lakeland, Florida, are orders of the court designed to protect people in dating relationships or former dating relationships from future violence or the imminent threat of violence. Dating violence injunctions are also known as restraining orders or protective orders. No matter how one refers to the order of the court, the court can order a dating violence injunction when the alleged victim updating violence claims that is it her current or former romantic partner committed an act such as sexual violence, stalking, attempted battery, attempted assault, assault, or battery.
Unlike domestic violence restraining orders, dating violence injunctions are not limited to people who lived together in the same family unit or have had a child together. Instead, any two people connected by a current or former romantic or intimate relationship can ask the court for protection from dating violence.
Dating violence injunctions and domestic violence injunctions are often confused with each other, and the terms might be used interchangeably — the primary difference between the two stems from the nature of the relationship between the parties involved. Domestic violence injunctions may apply two people who live in the same household, even if they are not related, rather than two people involved in a romantic relationship or were in a romantic relationship within the six months preceding the date the alleged victim applies for an injunction.
Defending oneself against a dating violence injunction in Lakeland, Florida, can be extraordinarily difficult. Judges hearing petitions to stop or prevent dating violence in Lakeland, Florida, treat these matters urgently and could favor the petitioner, or the person who asks the judge for protection from the court, to protect the alleged victim out of caution and perhaps even self-preservation instead of applying the exacting standard contemplated by the statute authorizing dating violence injunctions. Unfortunately, well-meaning judges are often used as a means for jilted lovers to exact revenge from their former or current romantic partners.
Defending these allegations vigorously with a Dating Violence Injunction and Criminal Defense Attorney from Lakeland, Florida, will put you in the strongest and most advantageous position to defeat the claims made by the petitioner successfully. Failing to take these matters seriously could result in severe limitation of your rights or an unknowing forfeiture of your rights.
The Lakeland, Florida, Criminal Defense and Dating Violence Injunction Defense Attorneys with Musca Law have extraordinary experience defending the rights of individuals dragged before the court to answer to a judge regarding dating violence allegations. Musca Law's Lakeland, Florida, Criminal Defense and Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers are widely known for their exemplary representation of their clients who must face allegations of violence. Musca Law has earned its reputation for excellence by providing expert legal defense in civil and criminal courts on behalf of all their clients.
Musca Law provides extraordinary legal representation 24 hours a day every day for people who are entangled in the court system by allegations of dating violence. Call Musca Law at 888-484-5057 if you have been served with a dating violence injunction in Lakeland, Florida. The freedoms you cherish hang in the balance.
Five Categories of Injunctions in Polk County, Florida
Florida law authorizes judges sitting in circuit courts to issue injunctions designed to protect people from future harm or from imminent threats of harm. The nature of the injunction the court could consider depends upon the type of relationship that exists between the parties, if any. Generally, any person who feels threatened by another as a result of violent acts or threats to commit violent acts has a right to petition the court for protection. However, the particular orders contained in the injunction will vary depending on the class of injunction issued.
Florida courts allow petitions for injunctions to guard against:
The person who requests an injunction for protection from the court for abuse by another person is referred to as the "petitioner." The person against whom the injunction was filed is referred to as the "respondent." The petitioner files paperwork that the court clerk's office identifies as a petition. The petitioner must complete the forms to the best of her or his ability by providing complete, accurate, and, above all, truthful information. The petitioner must provide all of the information requested in the proper forms and set forth the identity of the person to be protected by the order, the identity of the respondent, the nature of the relationships between the parties, and the factual scenario, which if believed by the judge, would allow the court to approve the petition for injunctive relief.
A judge will review the petition thoroughly once filed. The judge may ask the petitioner questions in court to help the judge understand the situation completely. It is critical to note that this type of hearing, called an ex parte hearing, allows only the petitioner an opportunity to address the court. The judge reviews the paperwork and considers the testimony of the petitioner, if any, to determine whether the court should order a preliminary injunction.
Judges tend to be very conservative when ruling on temporary injunctions and will issue them more often than not as means to protect the alleged victim of violence in the short term until a final hearing could be conducted where both parties could argue their sides of the case. The final hearing must be conducted within fifteen days of the date the judge issued the temporary injunction.
The respondent has due process rights to contest any injunction that the court could consider imposing upon that individual. The due process rights possessed by the respondent ensure that the respondent knows about the existence of the injunction, understands the temporary orders, has formal notice of the orders, and knows the date for the final hearing so that the respondent could appear in court to object.
Notice to the respondent is complete when the Sheriff of the County in which the respondent lives deliverers the paperwork generated by the court that contains the terms of the injunction as well as the final court date to the respondent. Once the respondent receives the notice delivered by the Sheriff, then Florida law declares that the respondent has been appropriately notified and is now bound by the terms outlined in the order.
Failure to obey the terms of the injunction, even if the injunction is only temporary, will subject the respondent to criminal charges. Accordingly, every person served with an injunction, even if the individual believes that the claims made in the injunction are baseless, fraudulent, or are blatant lies, must seek the help of seasoned Lakeland Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorneys for representation. Experienced counsel knows how to devise a strategy to defend against all categories of injunctions.
While you might think that there is nothing to worry about because you know the truth about what happened, you have to convince a judge that your position is justified. Allowing well-respected and phenomenally successful counsel from Musca Law speak on your behalf will give you the best chance to defeat the case. Guided by their vast experience in all courts of Florida, Musca Law's Criminal and Injunction Defense Lawyers will fight hard to beat the allegations of abuse in civil court while protecting you from the possibility that the state's attorney could charge you with a crime.
Dating Violence in Florida Defined
Florida law established a particular meaning for the phrase dating violence. Florida Statutes §784.046(1)(d) indicates that dating violence is an act of violence between two people who are in a continuing and significant relationship, whether romantic or intimate or between two people who were previously in a continuing and significant romantic or intimate relationship. Florida courts examine three elements to determine whether a particular relationship satisfies the definition of dating when considering a petition for a dating violence injunction. Those elements are:
- Whether the relationship was ongoing within the previous six months before the petitioner filed a request for an injunction;
- Whether the parties categorized their relationship as one that was of a romantic or of an intimate in nature; and
- Whether the interactions and the frequency of the interactions between the parties during that time allow a factfinder to conclude that the relationship was continuous rather than intermittent or periodic.
Judges in Lakeland, Florida, know that the decisions they make greatly affect peoples' lives. Accordingly, judges take their responsibility seriously and, therefore, closely examine all the evidence to determine whether the petitioner carried her or his burden to prove that an injunction against dating violence is warranted in this situation. Failure to carry that burden will force a judge to dismiss the petition. However, if the respondent does not appear or appears in court and does not advance a serious defense to the allegations, then the judge will have no choice but to grant the petition.
Mere Allegations of Dating Violence or Abuse are Insufficient to Sustain the Petitioner's Burden
Although Florida law requires a judge to examine three elements to determine whether the relationship alleged in the petition qualifies for the protection of a dating violence injunction, the greater difficulty lies in convincing the court that an injunction against dating violence is necessary to protect the petitioner and is consistent with principles of justice. Therefore, the petitioner has the burden to prove the relationship between the parties satisfies a dating relationship under the statute, but also, the petitioner has the additional burden to prove additional factors to qualify for protection from the court. Those factors include:
- the petitioner experienced dating violence in the past,
- the petitioner convinced the court of his or her belief that he or she is in fear of becoming a victim of another event of dating violence,
- the petitioner believes that she or he could be the victim of dating violence even if the petitioner has no previous experience in dating violence, or
- the person petitioning the court is not the victim but is a parent or guardian of a child who still lives in the family home, and the child is a victim of dating violence.
The petitioner does not have to press criminal charges to qualify for the protection offered by a dating violence injunction, even if a crime was arguably committed. For example, a petitioner might appear in court to request the protection of a dating violence injunction because she or he was struck by her or his intimate partner. These facts, if credible, layout a prima facie case for domestic violence battery under §784.046(1)(d), and the police could press charges against the respondent. Furthermore, if a parent or guardian is applying to the court for the protection of a child, then the parent or guardian must be a witness to the fact. Alternatively, if the parent or guardian did not personally witness the attack, then the person who or persons who did witness the attack may file affidavits in support of the injunction.
Procedural Requirements of a Dating Violence Injunction in Lakeland, Florida
Individuals facing the possibility of a court imposing an injunction upon them should learn as much as possible about the procedure courts follow when adjudicating dating violence injunctions in Lakeland, Florida. As discussed above, the petitioner files the appropriate paperwork in court and seeks relief she or he deems necessary. A judge will review all of the paperwork filed to determine whether the petitioner's safety is in jeopardy. If so, the reviewing judge will issue a temporary restraining order or a temporary injunction to protect the status quo until a final hearing can be conducted.
Within fifteen days, the court will hold the final hearing to determine if the temporary order should be extended. The judge will hear testimony from the petitioner and respondent as well and consider all exhibits offered in support of the parties' positions. The court can receive evidence such as photographs, medical records, copies of text messages, emails, copies of social media posts, or any other physical or documentary evidence the court deems relevant.
The respondent can ask the court for a continuance of the final hearing. The judge can allow the request if the respondent shows good cause for the request. If the judge grants the request for a continuance of the final hearing, then the judge will likely keep the temporary restraining order in place until the final hearing. Many self-represented litigants do not understand that they can ask the judge to continue the final hearing if, through no fault of their own, they are unprepared to go forward with the hearing. Judges will grant a continuance is on a case by case basis and will not grant a continuance if there is any wrongdoing or willful delay on behalf of the respondent.
Our in-depth knowledge and understanding of these complicated legal matters indicate that people who appear in court with counsel stand in a better position to defeat the injunction rather than someone who tries to represent himself or herself individually without counsel.
The final hearing is the best opportunity for the respondent to protect her or his rights. The respondent, through counsel, has a chance to cross-examine the petitioner if the court allows. An experienced criminal defense attorney and injunction defense attorney will have prepared cross-examination and will have the skills necessary to cross-examine any statements the petitioner made in court to impeach the credibility of the petitioner and show that the individual is exaggerating, lying, or filed the petition for an injunction to prevent dating violence motivated by revenge or another ulterior motive.
The respondent has the opportunity to take the witness stand and defend his or her position. However, the respondent has a right against self-incrimination. Therefore, anything the respondent says in court could be used in future legal proceedings, especially if the state's attorney filed charges against the respondent. Dating violence injunctions must be supported by facts which, if believed, could implicate the respondent in a crime. Therefore, people must be very careful and choose their strategy wisely so that they do not unwittingly implicate themselves in the crime. Having a seasoned injunction and criminal defense attorney represent you at this hearing will allow you to devise a strategy that protects your constitutional rights while advancing a successful defense in court.
Consequences of a Dating Violence Injunction in Lakeland, Florida
Applying for a protective injunction in Lakeland, Florida, is not a criminal matter. Rather, the proceeding and the relief sought is through the civil court. Notwithstanding that distinction, injunctions take away a person's liberty substantially even though juries do not decide the case. If a court allows an injunction against dating violence, then the person living subject to the injunction must forfeit his or her right to move about freely, will be prohibited from contacting other individuals, and will lose his or her right to keep and bear arms. The judge has the authority to order the respondent to enter and complete counseling if the judge deems that requirement necessary.
Violating the terms of the order, however slightly, could result in a criminal prosecution against the respondent. A person charged with violating a dating violence injunction, depending on the violation, could face up to one year in jail. Additionally, the respondent could have difficulty locating employment or finding suitable housing because a background check could reveal the existence of a dating violence injunction. Moreover, the respondent could find that his or her educational opportunities are limited because of the existence of a dating violence injunction on his or her public record.
Modifying, Terminating, or Extending a Dating Violence Injunction in Lakeland, Florida
A judge has the discretion to enter a permanent order against dating violence or could set a time limit for the expiration of that order. If the judge sets an expiration date, then the parties do not have to return to court, and the order will terminate on its own. However, the petitioner must file a motion within 30 days of the termination date if he or she wishes to extend the order. Then the judge could terminate the order despite the petitioner's request if the petitioner misses that deadline.
Either party may ask the judge to modify the terms of the injunction. The parties can file an agreed motion or can file a contested motion seeking modification of the order. The judge will schedule a hearing on the merits of the motion if necessary. Additionally, the respondent can ask the court to terminate the order before the expiration date if the need for the order no longer exists.
Musca Law Dating Violence Injunction and Criminal Defense Attorneys Ready to Fight for You
Musca Law's Lakeland Criminal Defense Lawyers are available 24/7 at 888-484-5057 to discuss your case with you. Do not hesitate to call Musca Law if you were served with a temporary order. We will devise a strategy designed to defeat the injunction and insulate you from criminal liability. Remember that you must comply with the terms of the order, even if you feel they are unfair. Do not do anything to jeopardize your freedom. Instead, let us do the fighting for you.