Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers in New Port Richey, Florida
An Overview of Florida Protective Orders, Orders of Protect, & Injunctions
Facing a criminal charge is a serious life situation, particularly when the alleged crime is related to violent conduct. However, many New Port Richey citizens may not understand that facing a civil protective injunction can be just as serious. In many circumstances, a protective injunction may coincide with a criminal charge. In other instances, an individual may face a protective injunction without any pending criminal charges or a criminal investigation. Even though civil injunctions are not criminal matters, the consequences of a protective injunction are often just as damaging as a criminal conviction. Any individual who is facing a protective injunction in New Port Richey, Florida, needs to fight the injunction with the help of a highly qualified New Port Richey Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer.
At Musca Law, our lawyers dedicate their legal professions to representing individuals' rights throughout the State of Florida. Our law firm handles all types of criminal matters, but our firm also represents clients facing injunctions that will potentially compromise their legal rights. With the help of our experienced New Port Richey Injunction Defense Lawyers, many of people have been able to overcome a protective injunction. If you or a family member have been served with a protective injunction in New Port Richey, Florida, your time is limited to retain an attorney. Speak with a New Port Richey Injunction Defense Lawyer from Musca Law about your situation, contact us 24/7 by dialing (888) 484-5057.
What Are a Protective Injunctions?
Protective injunctions are also referred to as "orders of protection" and "restraining orders." Protective injunctions are orders dispensed by a civil judge, requiring a person to comply with specific terms to ensure the protection of another person. Unfortunately, a civil protective injunction circumstance does not provide the accused person the same due process rights that criminal defendants are entitled to receive. Instead of allowing a jury to hear both sides and determine the facts of the situation, the information supporting the issuance of a protective injunction is heard and decided on by a judge. The judge's decision will affect the respondent's life for many years in the future. As such, anyone facing a protective injunction must move forward with a qualified legal professional's assistance.
The Five Types of Protective Injunctions in Florida
Florida law permits an individual to seek one of five types of protective injunctions, which include the following:
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Domestic Violence injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions.
Each protective injunction deals with a distinct form of conduct and/or relationship. The purpose of a protective injunction is to avert impending harm to a victim of alleged abuse and to "restrain" the alleged perpetrator from coming into contact with the victim(s).
Dating Violence Injunctions
Per Florida Statute Section 784.046(d), dating violence is defined as an act of violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of an intimate or romantic nature. To satisfy the "dating relationship" condition, the individual who wants to obtain a dating violence injunction needs to prove that (1) a dating relationship existed within the past six months from the date the petition seeking the dating violence injunction is filed, (2) the nature of the relationship was such that there was an expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties, and (3) the parties have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.
Domestic Violence Injunctions
Under Florida Statute Section 741.30(1), an individual who is a victim of domestic violence or has just cause to think he, she, or a minor child is in impending danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence may solicit a domestic violence injunction. To satisfy the "domestic relationship" conditions, the individual who wants to obtain a domestic violence injunction needs to prove that the respondent is or was a family or household member. The parties must either live in the same household or share a child if the parties involved do not live in the same household.
Repeat Violence Injunctions
Repeat violence injunctions concern several different types of relationships, and Florida Statute Section 784.46(b) defines repeat violence as two episodes of stalking or violence, one of the episodes that have been committed within the six months of the date of the petition is filed. Repeat violence injunctions include a broad array of violent behaviors and a broad array of relationships, such as friends, co-workers, strangers, and neighbors.
Sexual Violence Injunctions
Per Florida Statute Section 784.046(c), sexual violence is characterized as one incident of a lewd or lascivious act or sexual battery, committed against or in the presence of a child younger than 16 years old, sexual performance by a child, luring or enticing a child, or any other forcible felony wherein an act of a sexual nature is attempted or committed, regardless of whether criminal charges involving the incident were filed, reduced, or dismissed by the state attorney. Anyone who claims to be a victim of sexual violence is permitted to seek a sexual violence injunction in court.
Any individual who thinks he or she (or his/her minor child) is a victim of cyberstalking or stalking may petition the courts to grant a stalking injunction in accordance with Florida Law. Per Florida Statute Section 784.048(2), stalking is characterized as maliciously, willfully, and repeatedly harassing, following, watching, or cyberstalking someone else. Stalking is a crime punishable with fines and jail time. However, when an individual is petitioning the court for a stalking injunction, there is no obligation that the alleged victim press criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator.
The Protective Injunction Process in Pasco County, Florida
The protective injunction process in New Port Richey, Florida, is fairly swift from when individuals file a petition asking for a protective injunction to the time that the court issues a final injunction order. When someone is facing a protective injunction, he or she needs to understand what to expect from the legal process, and he or she should never represent themself in the injunction process without an attorney. Fighting a protective injunction is important. Having an experienced New Port Richey Injunction Defense Lawyer is essential to fight the injunction in court. The following steps present an outline of the process, and this outline applies to all forms of protective injunction proceedings.
The Petitioner Seeks a Protective Injunction
To begin the injunction process, an individual who wants to obtain a protective injunction is required to file a petition with the court. The individual requesting the protective injunction is required to fill out a court-approved legal form, and he or she must clearly indicate which form of protective injunction they are seeking. The petition needs to identify all of the facts that supporting the petition; however, the petitioner does not need to submit any evidence at the time the petition is filed. Instead, such evidence may be presented at a later date when the judge is making his/her final decision. The individual who files the petition is called the "petitioner," while the individual who will be subject to the petition is called the "respondent."
The Court's Review of the Petition
Protective injunctions are typical emergency filings, so judges will promptly review the petitions and render a speedy decision about whether to grant or deny the petition. Judges make their decision solely upon the information contained in the petition. As such, a petitioner's accusations are taken as true for the purposes of deciding whether a petitioner (or the petitioner's minor child) is at imminent risk of undergoing harm. Judges will often err on the side of caution and grant the temporary protective injunction. The process gives the petitioner immediate relief while also giving a respondent the opportunity to defend himself or herself in court at a pre-scheduled hearing. When the court grants a temporary injunction, the hearing will be scheduled no more than fifteen (15) days after the date on the temporary injunction order.
Service of the Protective Injunction
When the court issues a temporary injunction, and the hearing is scheduled, a copy of the petition seeking the injunction, the temporary injunction issued by the court, and the notice of hearing is then served on the respondent – the individual subject to the protective injunction. The order will be served on the respondent by the Pasco County Sheriff's Department. Since the respondent only has fifteen (15) days to appear in court, he or she needs to act promptly and speak with a New Port Richey Protective Injunction Defense Attorney.
Appearance at the Protective Injunction Hearing
With the aid of an attorney, the respondent who is facing a protective injunction may request to postpone or continue the date of the hearing. This provides the respondent and his/her attorney additional time to examine and discuss the petition and build a solid defense to the underlying allegations in the injunction. When the date of the hearing arrives, the respondent will appear with his/her attorney. The petitioner must also be present in the hearing, and he or she will probably have legal counsel. In the hearing, both parties will be allowed to present their case to the judge. At that time, the petitioner and the respondent may submit evidence to support their side of the past events. This evidence may include electronic communications, computer printouts, video recording, photographs, among others), physical documents, and witnesses.
The Court's Final decision
After the two parties have presented their cases, the judge will review the situation and decide whether or not to grant a long-term protective injunction. If the petitioner fails to persuade the judge that a protective injunction is justified, the case will be dismissed, and the respondent is no longer subject to the temporary protective injunction. If the petitioner's case convinces the judge to issue a protective injunction, the order will last for an extended period of time. Protective injunctions can last thirty days, sixty days, ninety days, or even longer.
The Penalties Associated with the Issuance of a Protective Injunction
When a judge grants a protective injunction, the respondent has an obligation to comply with that injunction until the expiration date of the protective injunction. In some rare circumstances, a protective injunction may last indefinitely. Judges have the discretion to create the terms of a protective injunction to fit the special circumstances for each case.
Examples of the penalties and consequences of a protective injunction include, among others, the following:
- The requirement to surrender all firearms and ammunition for the duration of the protective injunction;
- The requirement to undergo a mental health evaluation (which the respondent must pay for);
- The requirement to attend anger management and/or alcohol and drug abuse counseling;
- The requirement to maintain distance from the petitioner (and/or the petitioner's minor child);
- Exposure to potential criminal liability as further explained in the next section below; and
- Harm to one's reputation, as being the subject of a protective injunction is a matter of public record (which may lead to job loss and/or difficulty obtaining a job).
The most important point to keep in mind is that when you are served with a protective injunction in New Port Richey, Florida, your legal rights are on the line. You will face severe punishments and damage to your reputation if you do not have an experienced Injunction Defense Lawyer by your side.
What Happens if a Protective Injunction is Violated in New Port Richey, Florida?
If you are the respondent in a protective injunction and you violate a protective injunction, in any way, you will likely be charged with a serious criminal charge. A first and second violation of a protective injunction are typically first-degree misdemeanors. If convicted, you could receive up to one year in the Pasco County jail, and receive a fine of $1,000 for each offense. A third violation of a protective injunction is charged as a third-degree felony. If convicted, the potential jail sentence is five years plus a fine of up to $5,000. The consequences of violating a protective injunction are severe, and it is crucial to defend yourself against a protective order and comply with the terms of an existing protective injunction.
Can Protective Injunctions be Terminated or Modified in Florida?
Once a protective injunction has been issued, each party may seek termination or modification of the protective injunction, and file a motion with the court. The motion must be filed with the court that issued the initial protective injunction. There must be a compelling reason to petition the court to modify or terminate a protective injunction in Florida. By way of example, the petitioner and respondent have mended the relationship, and the petitioner wants to terminate the protective injunction. Also, a petitioner may ask the court to modify a protective injunction by making the terms stricter. This happens when a respondent has allegedly violated the terms of the existing protective injunction. Moreover, a respondent may petition the court to modify a protective injunction if his or her situation has significantly changed, such as he or she is moving out of state. The judge has complete discretion to deny or grant a request to modify or terminate an existing protective injunction. Regardless of your legal situation, it is imperative that you speak with a New Port Richey Injunction Defense Lawyer about your matter without delay.
Extending the Duration of a Protective Injunction in Florida
Should a petitioner desire an extension to the expiration date of his or her protective injunction, he or she is required to petition the court for an extension no less than thirty (30) days the expiration date of the existing protective injunction. If the petitioner fails to meet the deadline, the protective injunction will usually expire.
Why You Need a Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer
The outcomes of protective injunctions are life-changing and far-reaching. However, in many cases, these consequences can be avoided by defending yourself against the injunction. While any attorney is unable to guarantee any particular result, appearing at any court hearing without an experienced attorney absolutely increases the probability that the outcome will not be positive. Without an attorney present to raise important legal challenges in court, the respondent will be at a disadvantage, and literally at the mercy of a judge's analysis of the situation.
Protective injunctions are often successfully defended solely on a petitioner's inability to meet Florida's statutory requirements for receiving a protective injunction. For example, if a petitioner does not successfully establish that a dating relationship did indeed exist for purposes of obtaining a dating violence injunction, the respondent could have grounds to have the petition dismissed. Similarly, when the petitioner has failed to meet the requirements necessary to establish that a domestic relationship existed for purposes of obtaining a domestic violence injunction, the respondent could have grounds to challenge the petition and have the petition dismissed.
Anyone involved with a protective injunction in New Port Richey, Florida, should treat the situation as if the situation has felony criminal charges pending. In most cases, criminal charges follow the filing of a petition for a protective injunction. It is very important to retain an attorney who handles both civil protective injunction matters and criminal law.
Contact the New Port Richey Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today!
Protective injunctions will significantly limit your legal rights without the assistance of an experienced legal professional. At Musca Law, our team of nationally recognized trial attorneys has extensive experience handling criminal defense and civil protective injunction matters. Contact our New Port Richey defense lawyers today by calling (727) 480-9675. We are standing by 24/7 to answer your questions and advise you on your legal rights.