Sexual Violence Injunctions Defense Lawyers in Lakeland, Florida
The victims of sexual assault in Lakeland, Florida, can seek refuge in the court system from sexual violence. The notion that any person needs the protection of a judge to order another person to refrain from committing acts of sexual violence is appalling. Florida’s law is clear: any act of sexual violence perpetrated against another person will be punished severely. Putting morality aside, why would the state provide added protections for a sex crime victim when Florida’s criminal law already criminalizes several acts of sexual violence?
Florida’s legislature determined that sound public policy requires the protection of victims from people who threaten violence against them. Therefore, an injunction to prevent sexual violence in Lakeland, Florida, can protect the alleged victim of sexual violence by ordering the perpetrator to have no contact and state away from the alleged victim and family, surrender all firearms and ammunition, and possibly attend counseling to prevent further abuse. The alleged offender must comply with the injunction, or the state attorney could charge the perpetrator with the crime of violating the injunction.
The rights of every person to live freely without the threat of being violated sexually is hardly a novel idea. What about the rights of the accused? In sexual violence cases, no one wants to give the accused the benefit of the doubt enshrined by the United States Constitution. Every person, no matter what criminal charge he or she faces, no matter how unpopular or “disgusting” the allegations appear on their face, is innocent until or unless the government pierces the presumption of innocence by proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Of that, there can be no argument. The U.S. Constitution and the Constitution for the State of Florida mandate that each person be cloaked with the presumption of innocence, no matter how heinous the charge sounds, or how unnervingly the allegations read.
Criminal charges often accompany petitions for injunctions to prevent sexual violence in Lakeland, Florida. Indeed, the petitioner, who is the person seeking the protection of the court, must provide the factual justification for requesting an injunction for protection against sexual violence. The recitation of the facts supplied by the petitioner in the petition for an injunction to prevent sexual violence — albeit one-sided — should provide sufficient evidence amounting to probable cause that the respondent, or the alleged perpetrator of sexual violence, committed a crime. Therefore, anyone who is the subject of an injunction to prevent sexual violence in Lakeland, Florida, must seek the advice and representation from an experienced, skilled, and aggressive injunction and criminal defense attorney. Otherwise, the respondent could be backed into a corner without recourse and face decades in prison.
Not every petitioner comes to the court guided by the truth. Unfortunately, the court system is subject to abuses by people claiming to be crime victims. The legal system at work in the United States was founded upon the notion that every person appearing before a judge will tell the truth. The oath administered to witnesses before they testify should instill a fear that not telling the absolute truth would be dealt with harshly on earth and in the afterlife. Somehow, our human condition eroded to the point where no one fears the ramifications of lying under oath. As a result, people testify in court to half-truths or outright lies often. Judges must, therefore, determine the credibility of the witnesses and render a decision. The judge hearing the petition could hear arguments from both sides and rule on the merits of the case. Having a lawyer press your arguments and fight for your rights as a person accused of a crime will help protect you.
At Musca Law, one of Lakeland’s pre-eminent criminal defense law firms, our sexual violence injunction, and criminal defense attorneys have a combined 150 years of experience fighting for justice in courtrooms across Florida. Our clients benefit from our sterling reputation as staunch advocates, our unrivaled resources, and keen insight into devising winning defense strategies that could only be accumulated by actually trying cases to Florida juries. Our sexual violence injunction and criminal defense lawyers are ready to serve you. Call 888-484-5070 now to protect your rights.
Categories of Injunctions in Polk County, Florida
Florida law generally recognizes five categories of injunctions. Each category injunction is specific to the type of harm from which the alleged victim seeks protection or specifies a particular relationship that requires particularized attention by the court.
The categories of injunctions are:
- injunctions to prevent sexual violence;
- injunctions to prevent repeat violence;
- injunctions to prevent stalking;
- injunctions to prevent domestic violence; and
- injunction to protect against dating violence.
In some instances, the petitioner could qualify for the protection of more than one of these categories of injunctions. The judge will fashion an order that will protect the petitioner and the alleged victim if someone other than the petitioner no matter which petition the applicant chooses.
Filing a Petition for Injunction to Prevent Sexual Violence in Lakeland, Florida
The process begins when the petitioner, or applicant, files a petition in court seeking protection. As briefly alluded to above, the petitioner must supply all of the facts that support the allegation of sexual violence to qualify for injunctive relief. A judge will not grant an injunction unless the petition contains enough facts to warrant issuing the injunctive order.
The judge is without authority to issue an injunction unless the appropriate party files the petition. Section 784.06(c) of the Florida Statutes provides that a person who claims to be a victim of a sexually violent act or a person who is the parent or legal guardian of a minor child currently living the in the family home who is the alleged victim of sexual violence can file for an injunction individually or on behalf of the child, provided that two conditions are satisfied. The petitioner must report the act of sexual violence to the local law enforcement authorities with jurisdiction. Additionally, the alleged victim must cooperate in the law enforcement investigation and all criminal proceedings regarding the allegations brought by the state attorney. Alternatively, the victim of abuse may petition the court within 90 days of the expiration date of the convicted offender’s release date from prison or at any time after the offender’s sentence has expired.
The petitioner will use the form authorized by the Supreme Court of Florida when applying for an injunction to prevent sexual violence. Upon completion of that form, the clerk’s office will send the petition to the presiding justice for review. The justice will review the petition to determine if a temporary injunction, also known as a temporary restraining order, should issue at that time. The judge does not have to issue a temporary injunction. In reality, however, most judges will issue the temporary order to preserve the status quo and to give the respondent a chance to defend against the allegations.
The purpose of a temporary injunction is to protect the alleged victim immediately while the respondent has an opportunity to craft a defense. The respondent must receive notice of the temporary injunction as well as notice the date for the final hearing. Accordingly, the Sheriff’s Department serving the community in which the respondent resides ordinarily serves the notice of temporary injunction along with notice of the final hearing date. The final hearing can take place no longer than fifteen days after the judge issues a temporary injunction or the petition is filed.
Every person who receives notice of a temporary injunction or notices that someone filed an injunction against them must contact skilled and experienced injunction defense and criminal defense attorneys immediately. The respondent has constitutional rights that must be safeguarded. Anything a person says in court while trying to defend against the sexual violence injunction could be used later on in a prosecution. An individual convicted of a sexually motivated crime in Florida could face decades if not life in prison. Therefore, you must all within your control and power to protect and preserve your right so that you are not wrongfully convicted.
The judge will conduct the final hearing on a sexual violence injunction in the same manner a trial is conducted. The petitioner has the burden of proof. The petitioner could testify, and if he or she does, will be subjected to cross-examination. Either party may admit documentary evidence, photographic evidence, video evidence, or messages from text messages, emails, or social media outlets, to help prove his or her case.
The respondent has a better chance of success if he or she and his or her lawyer thoroughly prepare and investigate their defense. To that end, a savvy sexual violence injunction defense attorney will understand that having more time to investigate could be inconvenient in the short term for the respondent but can ultimately benefit the respondent in the final outcome in the case. Therefore, the attorney can ask the court for more time to prepare the case, or for other good cause shown, and continue the final hearing until another date. If the judge does grant the continuance, then the temporary restraining order will remain in place.
The respondent could testify in opposition to the petition. However, testifying at a hearing when you could be subject to a criminal prosecution is incredibly dangerous. Every person has the right to testify, but a person who has a right against self-incrimination guaranteed, without qualification, by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution could elect to invoke that right and not testify. The decision to testify must be made in close consultation with an attorney who understands how to defend against allegations of sexual violence in both civil court, which is the law employed when a judge hears an injunction case, or in criminal court.
The judge will rule on the petition based on the merits of the petition after the close of evidence. The judge could deny the petition or allow the petition. If the judge allows the petition, then they responded will be subject to numerous conditions by which he or she must live, or else the court could hold that individual in contempt, or the state attorney could prosecute charges for violation of the injunction.
Section 784.06 of the Florida Statutes authorizes a judge in Lakeland, Florida, to issue an injunction to prevent sexual violence. The statute defines sexual violence as sexual battery, a lewd or lascivious act, wherein the victim of the acts in younger than sixteen-years-old, or the perpetrator committed the act in the presence of a person younger than sixteen, lures or attempts to lure a child, engages a child in a sexual performance, or any other criminal act in which is a forcible felony and the accused perpetrates a sexual act or attempts to commit a sexual act.
Section 784.06 specifically states that the court has the authority to issue an injunction to prevent sexual violence irrespective of whether the victim filed charges, and regardless of whether the state attorney did not file charges, reduced the charges, or dismissed the charges.
Injunctions to prevent sexual violence will contain provisions such as ordering the petitioner to refrain from abusing the petitioner or listed victim, have no contact with the petitioners or listed victim, stay away from the petitioner or listed victim, attend counseling at the respondent’s sole expense, and surrender all firearms, including shotguns and rifles, along with every round of ammunition possessed by the respondent. The judge may make other orders as necessary to prevent future violence to the victim and correct any harms that occurred in the past.
The judge has significant authority to fashion any order that will protect the victim, provided that it is consistent with the ends of justice. The judge can order the Sheriff’s Office or local Police Department to perform any actions that will aid the court and protecting the victim. For example, if the alleged victim of sexual violence resides with the alleged perpetrator of sexual violence, then the judge could order the Police Department to guard the residence while the respondent moves out. Also, the terms of the injunction must indicate that’s the order of the court shall be enforced in every jurisdiction within the state of Florida. Moreover, the full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution requires other states to honor the order of a judge in Florida and enforce the order for injunctive relief to prevent sexual violence.
Modifying, Terminating, or Extending an Injunction to Prevent Sexual Violence in Lakeland, Florida
The judge will determine how long a sexual violence injunction should last. Most often, a judge will enter a permanent order that protects the victim forever. However, not every injunction is permanent. A judge could include an expiration date in the court’s order. If the court sets an expiration date, then the petitioner must reapply for protection by filing a motion with the court within 30 days of the expiration date. The respondent must also receive notice of the petitioner’s motion. The respondent has an opportunity, indeed a right, to defend against any extension of the order. The court could hold a limited hearing listen to arguments of both parties and then determine if the order should be extended or whether the order should be terminated. The respondent will have an opportunity to provide the court with information that demonstrates the need for a sexual violence injunction no longer exists.
Either party can ask the court to modify the terms of an injunction by filing a motion with the court. The court will review the motion and could order a hearing to gain a better understanding of why the parties want to modify the terms of the injunction. Modifying the injunction, on behalf of the respondent, could help alleviate some of the onerous consequences of living subject to an injunction.
The respondent can move to terminate the order before its expiration date or move to terminate if the order is a permanent order. The respondent will be successful only if he or she shows the court that there is no longer a need for the injunction.
Every time an individual appears in court, they must have the best legal counsel available to them to protect their interests. Otherwise, they could commit irreparable harm to their rights and forfeit them forever.
Steps to Observe if You Are Accused of Committing an Act of Sexual Violence
The first step you need to take if you learn you are under investigation for a sexually violent act is to not say anything to anyone except a highly-experienced, knowledgeable, and reputable injunction defense and criminal defense attorney. The compulsion to explain or to try to distance yourself from the situation will be great, even overwhelming. However, you must resist the temptation. The only person to whom you can safely confide is a Lakeland sexual violence injunction and criminal defense lawyer who will understand how to protect your freedom. If you receive a temporary injunction, you must abide by its terms. Do not try to contact the petitioner and talk the situation out. Allow an attorney with experience to guide you and speak on your behalf.
Musca Law: Sexual Violence Injunction and Criminal Defense Attorneys
Musca Law’s Lakeland criminal defense lawyers are available 24/7 for you. Call us today at 888-484-5057 to preserve your rights, protect your freedom, and safeguard your future.