Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers in Melbourne, Florida
Facing a protective injunction can feel like facing criminal charges. Protective injunctions, which are commonly known as restraining orders or orders of protection, are legal orders that force a person to comply with strict requirements not only to maintain distance from another person but also do give up some legal rights. If you have been served with a protective injunction in Melbourne, you are not alone. Many people just like you face protective injunctions every day and simply do not know where to start. The clock is ticking the instant you are served with a protective injunction. You have very little time to (1) find a qualified Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer, and (2) appear in court to defend yourself and protect your rights.
Musca Law is a well-known criminal defense law firm that specializes not only in all areas of criminal law but also in the area of civil protective injunctions. At Musca Law, our team of Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers understand what is at risk when a client is facing the prospects of a court order that severely compromises legal rights. With more than 150 years of combined professional experience, the Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law are available to help you with your injunction matter 24/7. To speak with a member of our legal team, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057.
Protective Injunctions/Restraining Orders in Melbourne, Florida
Protective injunctions are civil court orders that are issued upon a belief that a victim may be at risk of suffering imminent harm. While victims deserve protection, individuals accused of committing criminal acts that are typically violent in nature are not afforded the same level of due process as they are in a criminal courtroom. As such, while the issuance of a protective injunction in Melbourne cannot send a person to jail, the injunction itself can give rise to either a related criminal investigation and/or exposure to criminal charges if an injunction is violated.
Because of the criminal nature of the alleged conduct identified in a protective injunction, only a lawyer who specializes in criminal law and protective injunctions should be representing a client in an injunction matter. The person seeking a protective injunction in Melbourne, Florida is known as the “petitioner,” and the person who is the subject of the protective injunction – i.e., the accused offender – is known as the “respondent.”
Five Types of Protective Injunctions/Restraining Orders Under Florida Law
Florida law allows individuals to seek five different types of protective injunctions, all of which include the following:
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Domestic Violence injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions.
While each type of protective injunction identified above pertains to slightly different conduct and/or relationships, the process for seeking and obtaining the injunction is essentially the same. The protective injunction process in Melbourne is further explained below on this page.
Dating Violence Injunctions in Melbourne, Florida
Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 784.046(d), the term “dating violence” is defined as “violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” Before proving that “dating violence” has occurred, an alleged victim must first prove to the court that a “dating relationship existed.” A dating relationship is one that meets the following criteria:
- (1) The relationship between the parties existed within the past six months prior to the date the petitioner files the petition seeking the dating violence injunction;
- (2) The nature of the relationship was one in which there was an expectation of affection and sexual involvement between the parties; and
- (3) The parties to the relationship “have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.”
A petitioner who fails to establish that (1) a dating relationship existed, and (2) that dating violence has occurred should not be able to obtain a dating violence injunction in Melbourne. However, a respondent who fights a dating violence injunction without the assistance of a Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer may not adequately raise legal defenses that could get the matter dismissed. As such, having a qualified lawyer by your side is an absolute must if you are facing a dating violence injunction.
Domestic Violence Injunctions in Melbourne, Florida
Domestic violence injunctions are commonly issued in Melbourne, Florida. Similar to a dating violence injunction, a petitioner seeking a domestic violence injunction must first establish that a “domestic relationship” existed before getting to the step of showing that an act of domestic violence has occurred. Under Florida Statute Section 741.30(1), a person can file a petition seeking a domestic violence injunction either for him/herself or for a minor child. To show the court that a domestic relationship exists between the parties to the injunction matter, the petitioner must prove that the parties are deemed family or household members pursuant to Florida law. Family or household members are individuals who either reside together currently, have resided together in the past, or who share a child in common. If the parties share a child in common, the parties do not need to live in the same household for a court to issue a domestic violence injunction.
Domestic violence injunction matters often involve related criminal matters. Therefore, when searching for the right Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer, a respondent must choose a lawyer with a proven track record of success handling both criminal law and civil protective injunctions. Settling for an inexperienced lawyer can be very dangerous to one’s legal rights.
Repeat Violence Injunctions in Melbourne, Florida
Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 784.46(b), an individual who has been the victim of alleged repeat violence can seek a repeat violence injunction. Florida law defines “repeat violence” as two or more acts of violence or stalking, with one of these acts of violence occurring within the past six months from the date petition seeking the dating violence injunction is filed. The petitioner can seek the dating violence injunction on behalf of him/herself or on behalf of a minor child.
Unlike dating violence injunctions and domestic violence injunctions, repeat violence injunctions do not always involve parties who have had a romantic relationship. Although many repeat violence injunction matters do involve parties who have dated or have lived together (or share a child in common), some repeat violence injunction matters in Melbourne involve co-workers, former friends, strangers who may have had an altercation in public, and neighbors. Nearly any relationship that involved alleged repeat violence can be the subject of a repeat violence injunction.
Sexual Violence Injunctions in Melbourne, Florida
Under Florida Statute Section 784.046(c), “sexual violence” is defined as one incident of sexual battery, a lewd or lascivious act “committed upon or in the presence of a person younger than 16 years of age,” luring or enticing a child, sexual performance by a child, or “any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted, regardless of whether criminal charges based on the incident were filed, reduced, or dismissed by the state attorney.” Many sexual violence injunctions involve parties who have been romantically involved or who are family or household members. However, like repeat violence injunctions, sexual violence injunctions can involve parties who are complete strangers. Sexual violence injunctions can often be more severe than the other types of injunctions, and typically involve a related criminal investigation.
Stalking Injunctions in Melbourne, Florida
Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 784.048(2), stalking is considered “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person.” Stalking injunctions, unlike the other types of injunctions, do not require that the parties to the injunction matter have ever had physical interactions. Additionally, because the internet is heavily relied upon, many instances of stalking are actually cyberstalking. As such, an accused individual may never have seen the alleged victim in person.
Understanding the Steps of the Protective Injunction Process in Brevard County, Florida
Step 1 – The Petition
No matter what type of protective injunction a person is seeking on behalf of him/herself or a minor child, the entire process begins with filing a petition in a Brevard County Court. A court-approved form is used to complete the petition, with each type of injunction having a different form. The petition is completed under oath, and the petitioner is subject to penalty of perjury. As such, if a petitioner willfully alleges false or misleading information, he or she may face perjury charges. A petitioner is not required to provide evidence supporting the allegations at the time the petition is filed.
Step 2 – Court Review of the Petition
Protective injunction matters are considered urgent in that a victim may be at imminent risk of harm. Therefore, a judge will promptly review a filed petition and decide whether to issue a temporary protective injunction. Because the petitioner is not required to submit evidence at the time the petition is filed, a judge will typically err on the side of caution and issue a temporary injunction if the allegations seem credible and, if true, satisfy the requirements under Florida law to obtain the protective injunction. If a judge issues a temporary protective injunction, the injunction will last no more than fifteen days. On this fifteen-day mark, a hearing takes place to address the merits of the case.
Step 3 – Service of the Petition and Temporary Protective Injunction
Once a judge issues a temporary protective injunction, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department will serve the respondent with a copy of the petition, a copy of the temporary injunction, and a notice providing the date the respondent must appear in court to present his/her side of the case.
Step 4 – Connect with a Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer
Preparing a defense in fifteen days is very difficult, even for the best lawyers. A qualified Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer will need to thoroughly vet the matter and help a respondent prepare the best case possible to fight the protective injunction in court. As such, it is imperative that a respondent immediately contact a Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer after being served with the protective injunction. With the representation of a lawyer, a respondent can seek a continuance of the matter and postpone the hearing to a later date, at which point the respondent and his/her lawyer will be fully prepared to defend the case in court.
Step 5 – Appearance at the Protective Injunction Hearing
The protective injunction hearing can be an intimidating process. Both parties are required to appear in court and failure of either party to appear will likely result in a judge siding with the party that does show up, regardless of the merits of the case. At the hearing, both parties have an opportunity to present evidence and witness testimony. Evidence typically includes physical items, handwritten communications, such as letters and notes, electronic communications, such as emails, text messages, social media messages/postings, and photographs. There is no jury present at the hearing. Only a judge is present to hear and decide the matter.
Step 6 – Final Court Order on Protective Injunction Matter
After the protective injunction hearing is over, the judge presiding over the matter will review the evidence, witness testimony, and arguments. The judge will then decide to either dismiss the matter, effectively terminating the temporary protective injunction, or side with the petitioner and issue a long-term protective injunction. If a judge sides with the petitioner, the respondent will be required to comply with the protective injunction, and failure to do so may lead to criminal charges.
The Consequences of Becoming the Subject of a Protective Injunction in Melbourne
As previously stated, protective injunctions have the potential to severely limit a person’s legal rights. Depending on the type of protective injunction at issue and the severity of the alleged conduct, a protective injunction will have unique parameters that are specific to the facts of each case. A protective injunction carries numerous consequences that can make a person feel like a criminal even if no criminal charges or investigation are pending. In fact, a person can face a protective injunction absent ever being charged with a crime related to the alleged conduct at issue. Examples of consequences resulting from the issuance of a long-term protective injunction in Melbourne include, among others, the following:
- The requirement to keep distance from the petitioner and/or the petitioner’s minor child;
- The requirement to complete a mental health evaluation, which the respondent must pay for;
- The requirement to complete counseling for anger management and/or substance abuse;
- Random drug testing;
- The requirement to surrender firearms and ammunition while the protective injunction is active;
- Potential harm to one’s reputation given that protective injunctions are a matter of public record, and a bad reputation can make it difficult to maintain employment, rent a home, or even to apply for credit; and
- The risk of facing criminal charges for the alleged violation of a protective injunction.
Because of the severe consequences associated with protective injunctions, all respondents must approach the situation with caution and promptly seek the guidance of a seasoned Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer.
Facing Criminal Charges for Violating a Protective Injunction in Melbourne, Florida
The violation of a protective order may lead to the respondent facing criminal charges. If such criminal charges are in addition to criminal charges pertaining to the conduct at issue in the protective injunction, a respondent could be facing substantial jail time if convicted. Under Florida law, the following penalties resulting from violations of protective injunctions include the following:
- First Violation of a Protective Injunction – A first violation is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, and conviction can lead to a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $1,000.
- Second Violation of a Protective Injunction – A second violation is also considered a first-degree misdemeanor, and conviction carries the same penalties of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Third Violation of a Protective Injunction – A third violation is considered a third-degree felony, and conviction can lead to a maximum jail sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
The penalties associated with conviction of violating a protective injunction can add up if a respondent is convicted of more than one offense. As such, the potential jail time and fines resulting from multiple convictions of violating a protective injunction are combined. This means that a person could potentially face up to seven years in jail for three violations of a protective injunction and could face fines of up to $7,000.
Modifying or Terminating a Protective Injunction in Melbourne, Florida
Protective injunctions can be modified or terminated upon motion by a party. To seek modification or termination, the party must file a motion with the court and demonstrate a valid reason why a protective injunction should be modified or terminated. Modifying or terminating a protective injunction, at least from the respondent’s perspective, can be very difficult and a judge will need to be convinced that such a decision will not place the petitioner (or petitioner’s minor child) at risk. Seeking modification or termination of a protective injunction is a matter that should be discussed with a qualified Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer. A petitioner who wishes to extend a protective injunction beyond the order’s expiration date must do so by notifying the court no later than thirty days before the protective injunction expires.
Contact the Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today!
If you have been served with a protective injunction in Melbourne, your legal rights are on the line. Protective injunctions can have catastrophic consequences that are unknown to many, and not unlike the consequences associated with criminal charges. At Musca Law, our team of nationally-known Melbourne Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers routinely handle a wide variety of criminal matters as well as protective injunction matters. Musca Law has a reputation for providing excellent legal representation to clients throughout Melbourne and the rest of the state of Florida. If you would like to speak with one of our Melbourne Defense Lawyers, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057.