Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers in Lakeland, Florida
Protective Injunctions in Lakeland, Florida
Protective injunctions are also commonly referred to as protective orders and restraining orders. Whichever term you used to refer to this legal mechanism that offers an alleged victim of abuse or violence additional protections from the court, you need to know your legal rights and obligations if you have been served with an injunction in Lakeland, Florida. Injunctions to prevent abuse and violence are serious legal matters and must be treated as such. Even though the remedy is civil in nature, a judge in Lakeland, Florida, can severely limit your rights even though no jury convicted you of a crime. The category of the injunction issued by the court depends on the nature of the relationship of the parties involved in the injunction, as well as the nature of the conduct alleged.
A person who believes she or he is in imminent fear of harm because of threats or because of criminal behavior can apply to the Circuit Court for protection from future abuse. The individual who asks the court for protection is known as the petitioner. The individual against whom the petitioner has filed the case is known as the respondent. The court paperwork used to initiate an injunction is referred to as a petition.
Once a petitioner seeks refuge in the court system, she or he has set in motion serious legal matters that could have significant implications for the respondent's freedom and way of life. Accordingly, the respondent must contact competent and skilled legal counsel from Lakeland, Florida, for representation. Representation by a highly-skilled and reputable injunction defense attorney in Lakeland, Florida, will ensure that you are treated fairly by the court and that both parties are playing on a level playing field.
Musca Law has attorneys with tremendous experience defending against all types of petitions for protection from abuse in all courts of Florida. By calling 888-484-5057 today, you can avail yourself expert legal representation who will devise a strategy to defend your case successfully while preserving your rights guaranteed to you by the United States Constitution as well as the Florida State Constitution. Waiting to see what happens in court before contacting an attorney is a recipe for disaster. Do not hesitate; call our office today to speak with our experienced injunction defense attorneys.
Filing of a Petition for an Injunction for Protection in Lakeland, Florida
A person seeking protection from the court will file the appropriate petition for relief on a court-approved form. The court-approved form must be filled out completely and will be signed under the pains and penalties of perjury. That means that the petitioner swears that she or he is telling the truth about the allegations contained in the petition.
Injunctions for the protection against abuse in Lakeland, Florida, are designed to give petitioners added protection against future harm. Accordingly, a judge will review the petition filed by the petitioner. If the judge determines that an injunction is necessary based on the filings, then the judge will issue a temporary restraining order or a temporary injunction to restrain the respondent from committing certain acts before the judge can rule on the final merits of the injunction petition.
Temporary restraining orders in Lakeland, Florida, typically include provisions such as orders for the respondent to stay a certain distance from the petitioner, have no contact either directly or indirectly with the petitioner, or an order not to abuse or harass the petitioner. A temporary restraining order allows the judge to maintain the status quo until a final hearing may be conducted. The interval between a temporary restraining order and final hearing is a maximum of fifteen days.
At the final hearing, the respondent and the petitioner both have a right to be represented by an attorney that they choose. Also, both parties will have the opportunity to submit evidence for the court's consideration through live testimony as well as documentary evidence. Documentary evidence could be photographs, emails, copies of text messages, social media posts, and any other evidence such as medical records that the parties want the judge to review and that the judge rules are relevant.
After the hearing, the judge will rule on the merits of the petition. The judge will weigh the credibility of those people who testify and will also weigh the evidence presented to determine whether ordering an injunction for protection is necessary to provide additional safety to the petitioner for protection against future harm. The judge will also consider whether the petitioner has proved the case according to the legal standard applicable to civil cases in Florida.
Categories of Injunctions in Lakeland, Florida
The petitioner does not need to have any legal expertise to file a petition for an order of protection from the court. Court personnel can assist the petitioner in selecting the appropriate form the petitioner should use. However, court personnel is specifically prohibited from distributing legal advice. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the petitioner to allege the facts necessary to support his or her position.
A petitioner can file an injunction for the protection against violence such as:
- an injunction to prevent stalking;
- an injunction for protection against dating violence;
- an injunction against domestic violence;
- an injunction against sexual violence; and
- an injunction to prevent repeat violence.
On some occasions, the petitioner might qualify for more than one of the preceding petitions. Irrespective, the court will fashion the necessary relief if the petitioner proves her or his case. Indeed, the relief granted by the court may overlap between one type of injunction to another. Since Florida public policy favors the protection of victims of crime or potential victims of crime, the court will not hold the petitioner to an exacting standard if he or she is unrepresented. The most important aspect of filing the appropriate documentation is to allow the court to rule on temporary matters while putting the respondent on notice of the allegations made against her or him.
Dating Violence Injunctions in Lakeland, Florida
Domestic violence and dating violence have similar connotations under Florida law; however, the two terms are not synonymous. Dating violence applies to people who are or were engaged in a romantic or intimate relationship that is substantial and of lasting duration. By contrast, domestic violence restraining orders apply to people who could be in an intimate or lasting romantic relationship while living under the same roof. Dating violence injunctions apply to people who do not live together. Notwithstanding the distinction between the two categories of injunctions, the factual allegations underpinning the request for relief will be substantially similar in most instances. Substantial relationship, in the context of a dating violence injunction, implies that the relationship was at least six months long at the time the petitioner requested a dating violence injunction. That rule applies even if the relationship terminated.
Stalking Injunctions in Lakeland, Florida
Stalking in Florida is an extremely serious criminal offense. Therefore, Florida Statutes §784.048(2) defines stalking as any person who willfully or maliciously, harasses, cyberstalks, or follows another individual without justification. Cyberstalking also has a particular definition under Florida law. Florida Statutes §784.048(1)(d) defines cyberstalking as engaging in the course of conduct that communicates or causes to be communicated any words, pictures, language, or images through any means of electronic communication like text messages or emails directed at a particular individual. Cyberstalking also means accessing or attempting to access online or internet-based accounts linked to a person's home internet service without previous permission that causes substantial emotional distress and serves no legitimate lawful purpose.
A person convicted of stalking or cyberstalking in Florida is subject to serving up to one year in jail and paying a monetary fine of up to $1000.00 as a first-degree misdemeanor. The alleged stalking victim has no obligation to file stalking charges against the alleged perpetrator to avail herself or himself of a protective injunction against stalking.
Repeat Violence Injunctions in Lakeland, Florida
As the name suggests, repeat violence injunctions apply to situations in which the petitioner is subject to abuse by another individual who has committed similar acts in the past or has threatened similar acts in the past. A minimum of two previous acts of violence directed toward the same individual or the individual's family members is a prerequisite for obtaining an injunction to prevent repeat violence. Additionally, the most recent act of violence must have occurred within six months of the date the petitioner filed the petition.
Sexual Violence Injunction in Lakeland, Florida
Sexual violence under Florida law is any act that constitutes unlawful sexual contact such as rape, lewd and lascivious acts perpetrated against a child under the age of eighteen, sexual battery, and aggravated sexual battery, for example. In many cases, a person will be under investigation for a sexually motivated crime when the alleged victim petitions the court for an injunction to prevent future sexual violence. If the petitioner has not reported the sexually violent crimes committed allegedly by the perpetrator or respondent, the state's attorney could intervene and file charges on behalf of the petitioner.
The Protective Injunction Process in Lakeland, Florida
A judge must immediately review the petition filed by the petitioner, who asks the court for an injunction for protection. The judge reviews the petition to rule whether the petition must be denied or the petitioner has made a case for a temporary restraining order. The petitioner could not obtain an injunction simply because she or he wants one. Instead, the petitioner needs to set forth sufficient facts to warrant the judge to rule in her or his favor and issue a temporary restraining order. Courts frequently act conservatively in this circumstance. No judge wants to deny a petition filed by a person who is genuinely in fear for her or his safety but does not set out a compelling case on paper. Accordingly, a judge will often issue a temporary restraining order to protect the petitioner in the short term or until the final hearing may be conducted.
If the judge issues a temporary restraining order, then the respondent will be ordered to have no contact with the petitioner, to stay away from the petitioner, and may also be ordered to leave a jointly held residence if applicable until the final hearing can be held.
In Lakeland, Florida, a judge must assign a final hearing date within fifteen days of issuing a temporary order. The judge has the discretion to deny temporary relief and still order a final hearing. In those circumstances, the judge wants to hear testimony from both sides to determine whether safety and justice require the entry of an injunction for protection.
A person who will be subject to a temporary order or someone who must appear at a final hearing shall be served by the Police Department serving the town in which the respondent resides or by the Sheriff's Office with jurisdiction over the respondent's residence. The law enforcement authority that serves the respondent with any temporary orders along with notice of the final hearing must do so in-hand, if possible. Serving the respondent directly instead of leaving the documents with a person of sufficient age and responsibility or at the last known address of the respondent ensures that the respondent gets the proper notice required by due process considerations. The respondent becomes obligated to follow the terms of the temporary orders and appear in court after the appropriate service is made.
During the fifteen days between the temporary restraining order and the final hearing, a person served with legal process must contact a skilled and highly reputable Lakeland injunction defense lawyer. A lawyer knowledgeable and who has vast experience defending clients facing injunctions for protection may ask the court for a continuance of the hearing to prepare adequately for the hearing. A judge will maintain all terms of any temporary orders issued during the continuance interval.
A judge will closely examine all of the evidence presented at the final hearing and will scrutinize the parties; testimony closely to determine who was telling the truth about the circumstances that gave rise to the petition. The judge will also inspect all documentary evidence closely to ascertain whether the petitioner has sustained his burden or her burden to prove the need for an injunction.
Harsh Consequences of a Permanent Injunction in Polk County, Florida
A respondent must abide by all terms of the injunction if the court allows the petition after a final hearing. The respondent will be bound by all terms contained within the order and shall obey without fail. Otherwise, the petitioner could bring the case back before the court to complain that the respondent violated the orders, or the petitioner could call the police and report a violation of a restraining order. The police then could charge the responded with a crime.
In Florida, protective injunction orders are public record. Consequently, any entity that runs a background check will learn of the existence of a protective order. Since all five categories of protective orders in Florida imply that the respondent committed a violent criminal act, a person reviewing the respondent's public record history could determine that the respondent is not a suitable candidate for employment, schooling, obtaining a mortgage or loan, or retaining housing based on reputation alone.
The complexity of the relationships dragged before the court make deciding if injunctions for protection are necessary. On the one hand, public policy favors protecting victims of a crime. On the other hand, judges must balance the rights of the respondent versus the need to protect the petitioner. A reputable and honest judge will show disdain toward a petitioner who uses the court system to her or his advantage, files false or misleading information, misrepresents these circumstances, or commits perjury. Similarly, however, a judge will hold the respondent to the same standard of comportment and will expect the respondent to honor the oath administered by the court clerk when testifying.
The expense of hiring an attorney to represent you in court to defend against an injunction for protection is minimal compared to the potential consequences the respondent faces if a judge imposes a protective injunction against you. The implications of living subject to a protective order can be long-lasting and significant. Therefore, it is in your best interest to obtain the opinion and advice of an experienced protective order defense attorney from Lakeland, Florida, to protect your rights now and in the future.
Violating an Injunction for Protection Has Severe Consequences
Violating the terms of a protective order will have serious repercussions. A willful violation of a temporary or permanent order could provide probable cause for the police to arrest you or to issue a warrant for your arrest. You will then be brought to court to face criminal charges. As indicated above, a violation of restraining order carries with it the potential of a one-year jail sentence. Additionally, violation of a restraining order virtually guarantees the court will extend the order because you refused to follow the command of the court. Contacting superior legal counsel from Lakeland, Florida, who has extensive experience defending clients against protective orders may prevent you from facing the harsh consequences of violating the terms of the court's order.
How Can a Lakeland, Florida Injunction Defense Attorney Protect Your Rights?
Effectively protecting someone's rights means more than arguing vociferously in court. The most effective advocates know their audience, meaning that they know the judges who will hear the cases and can adjust their arguments to satisfy the individual judge's whims. Experienced injunction defense attorneys will understand that one judge may prefer shorter, more direct arguments that get right to the point. While other judges could allow or even appreciate lawyers who take a long time presenting their case. Familiarity with the Florida court system is, therefore, essential to providing the best representation possible to a person who is facing the severe consequences of living under an injunction for protection.
Moreover, having a thorough understanding of Florida's criminal law and procedure is vital to protecting a person's rights. Without the requisite knowledge and understanding of how Florida's criminal law and procedure works, the lawyer cannot completely and accurately advise a client regarding strategy, the consequences of the legal matters at hand, or how to avoid greater legal liability.
Contact Musca Law Today to Begin Your Defense
Call Musca Law today at 88-484-5057 speak with your Lakeland Criminal Defense Attorney. Do not delay! Time is of the essence, and any delay could irrevocably harm your case. Our award-winning attorneys from Lakeland, Florida, have significant success defending petitions for injunctive relief. Our lawyers are here 24/7 to help you navigate this difficult time in your life. Do not compound the problem by waiting to contact us or by trying to handle matters on your own.