Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Naples, Florida (FL)

What is an injunction?

In Naples, Florida, an injunction, which is also known as a “protective injunction,” “protective order,” or “restraining order,” is a legal and equitable remedy that is issued by a civil court judge against another individual, known as the respondent. The person who seeks the injunction is known as the petitioner. If the respondent is in violation of the terms of the injunction, he or she can be faced with serious civil and criminal penalties, including imprisonment, harsh monetary fines, being held in contempt of court, and social stigma, to name a few.

There are five forms of injunctions in Florida, which include:

  • Dating violence
  • Repeat violence
  • Stalking
  • Sexual violence
  • Stalking

The above injunction have the following similarities:

  • The person who is seeking the injunction is the petitioner. The respondent is the individual who the petitioner is seeking protection against.
  • The petition is a sworn document, meaning, that it is signed in the presence of the court clerk or is notarized.
  • The judge may issue a temporary injunction prior to the final hearing on the matter.
  • The temporary injunction is effective until the date of the final hearing.
  • The county sheriff typically serves the respondent with a copy of the petition and notice of the final hearing date.
  • Even if the judge denies the temporary injunction, the judge may still schedule a final hearing on the matter.
  • Both parties can bring evidence to the court to support their positions, which may include witnesses.
  • A judge, at the conclusion of the final hearing, may choose to issue a permanent injunction against the respondent.
  • A permanent injunction remains effective until the court modifies it or it expires.
  • If the respondent is in violation of the permanent injunction, he or she may be faced with civil and criminal penalties.

How is a dating violence restraining order unique?

  • The petitioner and the respondent must have been dating within the previous six months.
  • The relationship cannot be casual; it must be include affection or sexual involvement.
  • The petitioner must prove to the court that he or she is a dating violence victim or has a reasonable belief that he or she will become a dating violence victim.
  • A legal guardian or parent of a victim, or the victim himself or herself, may file a petition for an injunction against dating violence.
  • The purpose of the injunction is to protect the petitioner from future contact and violence.
  • The respondent must surrender ammunition and firearms to law enforcement.

What is the definition of dating violence? What is needed to establish that a person is a dating violence victim?

In Naples, Florida, dating violence happens when there is an incidence of violence between the respondent and petitioner who have a “continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” In a dating violence case, the petitioner must prove that (a) there is a dating relationship between him or her and the respondent, and (b) he or she is a victim of dating violence or reasonably believes that he or she will imminently become the victim of dating violence.

Who is authorized to file a petition for a dating violence injunction?

In Florida, a victim of dating violence, or a legal guardian or parent of a minor (a child under the age of eighteen) who is a dating violence victim, may file a petition for a dating violence injunction.

Once a dating violence injunction is in place, can it be dismissed, vacated, dissolved, modified or removed?

A dating violence injunction can only be dismissed, vacated, dissolved, modified, or removed through the court. In so doing, the moving party must establish that the facts supporting the original dating violence injunction are no longer effect such that maintaining the injunction serves no valid purpose.

How does a dating violence victim obtain an injunction against dating violence?

Under Florida law, a petitioner must file with the court a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence. Soon after the petition is filed, the judge reviews it in order to determine whether to issue a temporary injunction based upon the allegations raised therein. Keep in mind that the judge does not question the veracity of the facts brought forth in the petition, as this is done during the final hearing stage of the case. If the judge approves the temporary injunction, the county sheriff will serve the respondent with notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition.

The next stage of the case is known as a “return hearing,” which is the final hearing typically held fifteen days after the filing of the petition. It is important to understand that the judge can grant the temporary injunction and schedule a return hearing, deny the temporary injunction and schedule a return hearing, or deny the temporary injunction and choose not to schedule a return hearing,

What happens during a return hearing?

During a return hearing, the petitioner has the burden of proving that he or she (i) is entitled to a dating violence injunction due to being a victim of dating violence or (ii) has a reasonable belief that he or she will become a dating violence victim.

At the hearing, the petitioner and respondent can both present evidence to support their relative positions. Such evidence can include documentation, testimony from witnesses and law enforcement, and other relevant evidence. The parties may cross-examine each other and all witnesses. Once each party has presented his or her case, the judge then decides to issue or not issue a permanent injunction against the respondent.

What will happen if the respondent violates the terms of a dating violence injunction?

If the respondent is in violation of the dating violence injunction, he or she will face criminal and civil penalties, including jail time, monetary fines, and being held in contempt of court.

Can a dating violence injunction be extended?

Yes, in certain situations, a court might extend a Florida dating violence injunction. If the injunction is temporary, such as an ex parte injunction ordered by the court right after a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence has been filed, the judge might decide to extend the injunction until the hearing date or until making a determination about a final injunction. Sometimes, the respondent will request a continuance of the hearing in order to have additional time to prepare, as these hearings are often set about two weeks out from date the petition is filed. Respondents are frequently served with process with too little time to prepare a defense. If the hearing is continued for this reason, or any other reason, the judge will likely extend any temporary injunction in place.

If a dating violence is final (as opposed to temporary), it can also be extended if the judge determines an extension is necessary to protect the petitioner. This situation applies in cases where the injunction has a set end date, and the petitioner wants the injunction to stay in place past that date. It is not necessary for the petitioner to submit new evidence for an extension, but he or she may do so. The petitioner also does not need to allege new acts of violence to receive an extension of the injunction. The petitioner needs to demonstrate that he or she has a reasonable belief that he or she will become the victim of dating violence or of repeat dating violence if the injunction expires.

FAQs on Florida Dating Violence Injunctions

Our attorneys understand that when you are facing a dating violence injunction in Florida, you likely have many questions about the petition process and the injunction itself. Below are several common questions we hear from clients, as well as our answers to those questions. Please contact our office if you have questions pertaining to your individual case or are looking for representation in a dating violence injunction case.

What processes takes place when someone files a dating violence injunction in Florida?

Several steps are set in motion when someone files for a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence in Florida. First, the judge will review the petition and any supporting documents filed with the petition. Next, the judge will decide whether to issue a temporary injunction in the case. This would prohibit the respondent from certain conduct and from contact with the petitioner during the pendency of the injunction proceedings.

The judge will then schedule a date for both parties to be heard on the petition. This is usually set for 15 days from the date the petition was filed. If a temporary injunction is ordered, it will remain in effect leading up to the hearing. In the meantime, the respondent will be served with the petition, a hearing notice, and the temporary injunction order (if one was issued).

What happens if a petition for a dating violence injunction goes unchallenged?

If a petition for a dating violence injunction goes unchallenged, this means the respondent raised no defense or perhaps was not even present at the hearing. The judge will make a determination as to a final injunction based on evidence presented solely by the petitioner. Without anything refuting that evidence, it is more probable that the judge will find in favor of the petitioner and grant the final injunction. Dating violence injunctions are not something to take lightly in Florida. The consequences are serious, and respondents should always try to fight against the issuance of a final injunction.

What happens if the court issues a final injunction?

If the court issues a final injunction after considering all evidence presented in the case, the order will take effect immediately. The respondent will be enjoined from the conduct described in the injunction order as soon as it is entered. Typically, the respondent will need to surrender firearms and immediately cease all contact with the petitioner and all conduct directed toward the petitioner. The respondent will also need to stay away from certain locations and might be ordered to attend counseling. All provisions of the injunction will remain in effect until the injunction expires. Some injunctions never expire.

How long will a Florida dating violence injunction remain in effect?

A dating violence injunction in Florida will remain in effect until the expiration date listed in the injunction order. The injunction might be set to expire in several months or several years, or it might never expire. Depending on the circumstances, the judge might issue a permanent injunction with no listed expiration.

Aside from set expiration dates, the injunction might be lifted by motion of either party. At any time, the petitioner or the respondent can move the court to dissolve or modify the injunction, including to modify the expiration date.

What does it mean when a dating violence injunction order states the respondent can have “no contact” with the petitioner?

If a dating violence injunction order says that the respondent can have no contact with the petitioner, this means the respondent cannot contact the petitioner in any way for any reason. The respondent cannot contact the petitioner by phone, email, online messaging, mail, or through any other medium. The respondent also cannot contact the petitioner indirectly, by way of a friend, family member, coworker, or any other third party.

What are some examples of violations to a dating violence injunction?

Violations of a particular injunction will depend on the specific terms of the order. Most dating violence injunctions contain provisions against contact with the petitioner and against presenting at the petitioner’s house and workplace, as well as a provision on possession of firearms and ammunition. If the respondent contacts the petitioner, goes to the petitioner’s house or job, or obtains a gun, he or she will likely be found in violation of the injunction. Violations can result in criminal charges and penalties.

What are the penalties for violating a dating violence injunction?

Most violations of Florida dating violence injunctions will be charged as first-degree misdemeanors. This could land the respondent in jail for one year in addition to paying a $1,000 fine. If the respondent has been convicted on two or more prior violations, any additional violation of the injunction will be charged as a third-degree felony. The respondent could then be facing five years of jail time and a $5,000 fine. A respondent can also be assessed penalties at the civil level by the court that issued the injunction. This might include fines and jail time for contempt of court.

Are dating violence injunctions public record in Florida?

Yes, they are. When a dating violence injunction has been issued against someone in Florida, it will show up on background checks. This could affect a person’s ability to find a job, obtain a bank loan, or secure housing.

Will the effects of a dating violence injunction go away when it expires?

No, the effects of a dating violence injunction will continue to follow the respondent even after the injunction itself is expired. A dating violence injunction can never be expunged from someone’s record in Florida, meaning it will continue to show up on background checks even when the respondent is no longer subject to the order. In addition, the respondent might permanently lose his or her ability to possess a firearm as a condition of the injunction. This term will outlast the expiration of the injunction.

Do I need an attorney if a petition for a dating violence injunction has been filed against me in Florida?

When people facing a dating violence injunction ask us this question, our answer is always “yes.” While Florida’s laws pertaining to dating violence injunctions say that the parties are not required to have legal representation, we would never advise a respondent to try to navigate the process alone.

Your need for an experienced lawyer will likely arise right when you are served with process. The hearing might be taking place only a few days after you have been served. Not only is that likely not enough time for a lawyer to prepare a defense, but it is most assuredly not enough time for you to prepare a pro se defense (without legal counsel).

Your attorney can immediately request a hearing continuance to obtain the time needed to build your defense. The continuance will generally cause any temporary injunction in place to be extended, but this is preferable to an ill-prepared defense. Your attorney can then begin working on securing documents and testimony that will help you maintain your liberties.

Contact Musca Law Today to Fight for Your Rights!

If you have been served with a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence in Florida, contact Musca Law today to fight for your rights. Our Naples criminal defense attorneys have combined experience of more than 150 years in criminal defense, and we recognize the complexities involved in dating violence injunction cases. We provide free case reviews and consultations. Call Musca Law at (888) 484-5057 to schedule yours today.

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