Dating Violence Injunction Defense Attorneys in Orlando, Florida
Facing a dating violence injunction in Orlando can lead to substantial stress, fear, and a feeling of uncertainty. While allegations of dating violence should always be taken seriously, those who are served with dating violence injunctions deserve a fair chance in court to defend themselves. Protective injunctions, commonly known as “protective orders,” or “restraining orders,” serve the purpose of protecting victims from sustaining imminent physical harm. The person seeking a protective injunction must file a petition in court, and this person is known as the “petitioner.” The person to be served with the injunction is known as the “respondent.”
In Florida, there are five types of protective injunctions that victims can seek in court, including the following:
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions.
All protective injunctions in Orlando are serious legal matters that can result in severe consequences. While protective injunctions are civil matters, the subject-matter of these injunctions often alleges criminal conduct. As such, if you are facing a dating violence injunction (or any other type of protective injunction), it is imperative that you understand what is on the line. The Orlando Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law regularly represent clients in both criminal matters and civil injunction matters. With offices throughout the state, our lawyers can meet the needs of anyone who needs strong legal representation. To schedule an initial consultation to discuss your situation, contact Musca Law 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.
Dating Violence Injunction Laws in Orlando, Florida
Although dating violence injunctions are civil matters, anyone facing such an injunction may also be facing criminal charges, depending on the situation. In some cases, a person may face a dating violence injunction even if no criminal charges have been filed, and there is no ongoing criminal investigation related to allegations of dating violence. To obtain a dating violence injunction, the petitioner seeking the injunction must satisfy certain requirements to demonstrate credible allegations of dating violence. Florida Statute Section 784.046(1)(d) defines “dating violence” as “violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”
The petitioner in a dating violence injunction matter must be able to answer “yes” to the following questions:
- Did a dating relationship exist within the past six (6) months from the date a petition seeking the dating violence injunction was filed?
- Was the nature of the relationship between the two parties “characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement?”
- Were the two parties involved “over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship?”
If the petitioner establishes that a dating relationship existed, the petitioner must then show that he/she is a victim of dating violence. Specifically, Florida Statute Section 784.046(2)(b) states the following:
“Any person who is the victim of dating violence and has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of another act of dating violence, or any person who has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of an act of dating violence, or the parent or legal guardian of any minor child who is living at home and who seeks an injunction for protection against dating violence on behalf of that minor child, has standing in the circuit court to file a sworn petition for an injunction for protection against dating violence.”
If the petitioner is seeking a dating violence injunction on behalf of a minor (under the age of eighteen), the petitioner must have “been an eyewitness to, or have direct physical evidence or affidavits from eyewitnesses of, the specific facts and circumstances that form the basis upon which relief is sought, if the party against whom the protective injunction sought is also a parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of the minor child.” If the petitioner was not a witness to, or did not have direct physical evidence of, acts of dating violence, he or she can still seek a dating violence injunction on behalf of a minor if he or she has “reasonable cause to believe that the minor child is the victim of . . . dating violence.”
The statutory requirements to obtain a dating violence injunction under Florida law must be satisfied before a judge will issue an order that will materially limit a respondent’s rights. However, when respondents defend themselves in court, they run the risk of failing to present viable defenses that could prevent the issuance of a final/permanent dating violence injunction. As such, it is crucial for anyone facing a dating violence injunction to work alongside an Orlando Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer.
What Happens After a Petition for Dating Violence Injunction is Filed in Orange County?
Filing a petition seeking a dating violence injunction is the first step in the process of obtaining the injunction. Subsequent steps in the process go very quickly, and without the help of an attorney, many respondents facing injunctions do not know what legal options they have available to them. Therefore, it is important to have a general understanding of the entire dating violence injunction process. After the petition is filed in civil court, both parties to an injunction matter should expect the following process to unfold:
- Once a petition seeking a dating violence injunction is filed, a judge will immediately review the petition.
- The judge will either deny the petition or will grant the petition and issue a temporary dating violence injunction.
- The court will schedule a hearing on the matter to occur no more than fifteen (15) days after a temporary injunction is entered.
- The Orange County Sheriff’s Office will serve the respondent with (1) a copy of the petition, (2) a copy of the dating violence injunction, which is a court order, and (3) a copy of a notice of hearing which provides the date the parties are to appear in court.
- After being served with the dating violence injunction, the respondent can either move forward alone and appear at the hearing without an attorney or choose to work with an attorney.
- If a respondent chooses to work with an Orlando Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer, the lawyer will likely file a motion for continuance to postpone the hearing to a later date. In doing so, the respondent and his/her lawyer have more time to evaluate the situation and build the best defense.
- The dating violence injunction hearing is the next step. At this time, the parties present evidence in the form of documents and witness testimony. If evidence suggests a petition does not satisfy the requirements to obtain a dating violence injunction under Florida law, the respondent’s attorney can present arguments for the court to consider.
- After the hearing concludes, the judge will review the entire record and decide to either terminate the temporary dating violence injunction or grant the injunction on a long-term (or perhaps indefinite) basis.
- After a dating violence injunction is entered, the respondent must comply with all aspects of the injunction. Any deviation from the injunction’s requirements can be grounds for criminal charges.
Because the violation of a dating violence injunction can lead to criminal charges, respondents must act quickly to retain an attorney after being served with the injunction. Without the ammunition to fight an injunction, a respondent is at a serious disadvantage, and while there is a cost to hiring an experienced attorney, the cost is well worth it to increase the chances of achieving a better outcome.
While an attorney cannot guarantee a judge will rule in the respondent’s favor, an attorney can ensure a respondent is utilizing all available legal arguments and making the strongest case possible to the court. Moreover, attorneys who routinely handle dating violence injunction matters in Orlando are familiar with the judges and have a general idea of how these judges typically rule in similar matters. Knowledge of the court system, the judges, the process, the underlying law, and decades of experience are all qualities needed in the right Orlando Dating Violence Defense Lawyer.
The Parameters of a Dating Violence Injunction in Orlando, Florida
Protective injunctions in Florida are often very strict. After all, the purpose of a protective injunction is to prevent a respondent from committing violent acts that place the petitioner (and/or the petitioner’s minor) at risk of facing physical harm. Therefore, a respondent should expect to face serious restrictions on his/her legal rights. Dating violence injunctions can include a variety of requirements that will be unique to the facts of the case. Judges have the discretion to include whatever parameters they feel are necessary in an injunction order. Examples of some requirements/restrictions that a dating violence injunction include, among others, the following:
- The requirement to relinquish control of firearms and ammunition during the duration of the dating violence injunction;
- The requirement to maintain a certain distance from the petitioner;
- The requirement to undergo a mental health evaluation;
- The requirement to seek and undergo mental health treatment (which the respondent must pay for);
- The requirement to attend periodic hearings; and
- The risk of criminal prosecution for violating any part of the injunction.
Given that dating violence injunctions are so strict, it is not uncommon for respondents to unintentionally violate an injunction. For example, a respondent may unknowingly come in close contact with the petitioner, perhaps at a grocery store, in a parking lot, or another public location. A petitioner who sees a respondent nearby may assert that the respondent had violated the dating violence injunction even when such an act was accidental. Without an attorney, a respondent may be at risk of facing criminal charges. An attorney must be present to argue on the respondent’s behalf to demonstrate to the court that the respondent’s actions were not intended to violate the court’s order, but rather were accidental. As previously stated, while an attorney cannot guarantee positive results, allowing an attorney to handle the matter will ensure a respondent is exercising all legal defenses and arguments.
Violating a Dating Violence Injunction in Orlando, Florida
If a court finds that a respondent has violated a dating violence injunction, the respondent faces the following criminal penalties:
- First Violation – A respondent who is charged with violating a dating violence injunction for the first time faces a first-degree misdemeanor. Conviction of this crime results in jail time of up to one year and the imposition of a fine of up to $1,000.
- Second Violation – A respondent who is charged with violating a dating violence injunction for the second time faces a first-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, the respondent could face another potential one-year jail sentence and a potential fine of $1,000.
- Third Violation – A respondent who is charged with violating a dating violence injunction for the third time faces a third-degree felony. Conviction of this crime results in jail time of up to five years and the imposition of a fine of up to $5,000.
- Fourth or Subsequent Violation – A respondent who is charged with violating a dating violence injunction for a fourth or subsequent time faces a third-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, the respondent could face another potential five-year jail sentence and a potential fine of $5,000.
It is important to remember that jail time resulting from criminal convictions can add up. As such, if a person is charged with two counts of violating a dating violence injunction for two separate violations, he or she faces two potential convictions, and therefore, two potential jail sentences. It cannot be stated enough how essential it is to work with an Orlando Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer after being served with a dating violence injunction.
The Termination or Modification of Dating Violence Injunctions in Orlando, Florida
Dating violence injunctions in Orlando can be terminated or modified in some circumstances. If a petitioner believes a respondent has violated a dating violence injunction, he or she may file a motion in court to modify the injunction to strengthen the terms or perhaps extend the duration of the injunction. Injunctions may have an expiration date of months, years, or even longer, and in some cases, an injunction may be intended to be permanent until parties seek to modify or terminate the injunction.
Any party wishing to terminate or modify the dating violence injunction must not only file a motion in court but also must present evidence and provide valid arguments for why the injunction should be terminated or modified. If the parties agree to such a change, then a court is likely to grant such a request. If the parties do not agree to such a change, they will have an opportunity to appear in court to argue their cases to the judge.
If a dating violence injunction is about to expire, a petitioner who wishes to extend the duration of the injunction must seek to do so at least thirty (30) days before the injunction expires. Failure to do so may result in termination of the injunction. Any request to terminate or modify a dating violence injunction should be made with the help of an Orlando Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer.
Defending Yourself in Court – Is it Worth the Risk?
All defendants and respondents have the right to defend themselves in court, and when doing so, they are proceeding in a legal matter “pro se.” In some cases, defendants and respondents are successful in defending themselves, but in the majority of cases, individuals who represent themselves do not achieve their desired results. Lacking knowledge of Florida law means that defendants and respondents may not know they have potential defenses to raise in court, and by failing to raise such defenses, they may have waived many rights.
Whether facing criminal charges and/or a civil injunction, a lot is on the line when defending these matters in court. By choosing to work with an attorney, a defendant or respondent can have faith in a legal professional who has done this many times. Once speaking with an attorney, many individuals feel more comfortable and confident with the process. Therefore, the first step after facing criminal charges or being served with a civil protective injunction is to at least hear what an attorney has to say after evaluating the situation. Speaking with an attorney is not an obligation to hire that attorney. Speaking with an attorney is an opportunity to learn about what you are facing, an opportunity to ask questions, and an opportunity to learn what your options are.
Contact the Orlando Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
If you have been served with a dating violence injunction, your legal rights are at risk. To ensure you protect your rights and have a fair chance to fight the injunction, consider speaking with an Orlando Defense Lawyer right away. At Musca Law, our nationally-recognized trial attorneys reach clients throughout the entire state of Florida, representing these clients in both criminal matters and civil injunction matters. To find out how Musca Law can help you with either a criminal matter and/or civil injunction matter, contact our office today by calling (888) 484-5057. Our legal team is standing by 24/7 to help you in a time of need.