Stalking Injunctions Defense Lawyers in Orlando, Florida
Florida law sets forth a procedure for an alleged victim of a crime to obtain judicial protection in the nature of an injunction for protection. Injunctions for protection, also known as protective orders or restraining orders, are associated with criminal activity. Not only is stalking a crime in Florida — as is cyberstalking — these actions form the basis for the alleged stalking or cyberstalking victim to obtain an injunction for protection that is issued by a judge in Orlando against the suspected perpetrator of the crime.
People understand the ramifications of facing criminal charges; however, many people do not comprehend the significance of being served with an injunction for protection from stalking, or any other type of injunction for protection in Orlando. Florida law permits people who believe they are victims of violence or of specific crimes like stalking or cyberstalking can file a petition requesting that a judge in Orlando issue a protective injunction.
A judge in Orlando can order any one of the following injunctions for protection, based on the circumstances and the specific allegations contained in the petition submitted to the court:
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Stalking Injunctions; and
- Sexual Violence Injunctions.
Having a thorough comprehension of the legal process of defending and filing for a protective injunction is an essential first step toward safeguarding your legal rights. The individual who asks the court to issue an injunction for protection is called the “petitioner” under Florida law. The person against whom the petitioner filed the injunction is called the “respondent.”
The legal process to obtain an injunction bears strong similarities to criminal prosecution in Florida, even though the legal basis to obtain an injunction for protection does not fall within Florida’s criminal law. The statutory authority granted to a judge in Orlando to issue any of the five protective injunctions listed above falls under the broad powers given to a judge sitting in civil court.
Florida’s criminal law and the civil law of protective injunctions frequently intersect in Orlando. A person charged with a crime or who is involved in or associated with criminal activity, including individuals suspected of stalking or cyberstalking, must take every precaution to ensure that his or her rights against self-incrimination are protected when facing a protective injunction. The prosecution could use any statements made by a respondent in court while opposing a restraining order if the individual is not represented by an experienced and skilled Criminal and Protective Injunction Defense Attorney in Orlando.
Musca Law is a Florida criminal defense law firm dedicated to safeguarding individual’s rights guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, as well as the Constitution for the state of Florida. Musca Law’s expertise reaches every corner of Florida, with offices located throughout the state. Our clients enjoy the benefit of our homecourt advantage in many courts in Florida, including Orlando, when facing protective order injunctions and criminal charges. Contact Musca Law today to find out more by dialing (888) 484-5057. Our lawyers are ready 24/7 to speak with you about defending your precious rights.
Stalking and Cyberstalking Laws in Orlando, Florida
Having a solid foundation regarding Florida’s stalking and cyberstalking laws allow the person defending against an injunction to prevent those crimes to devise a strategy to defeat the petition even though criminal charges have not been filed. Section 784.048(2) of the Florida Statutes provides that a person found guilty of stalking faces up to one (1) year in jail and a fine of not more than $1,000.00 as a misdemeanor in the first degree. Stalking under §784.048(2) is defined as the repeated, malicious, and willful harassing, following, or cyberstalking of an individual.
The definition of stalking appears to be vague unless specific terms are defined. Harass, as defined by the Florida statutes, is the specific course of conduct aimed at another person in the absence of a legitimate purpose that causes the person substantial emotional distress. A course of conduct has a specific definition as well. Florida law defines a course of conduct as a series of acts committed within a specific timeframe, irrespective of the length, that shows a continuity of purpose.
Cyberstalking has a specific definition, as well. Cyberstalking means engaging in a particular course of conduct that directly or indirectly communicates language, words, or pictures through an electronic medium such as e-mail, text messaging, or social media communication. Additionally, cyberstalking means accessing or attempting to gain access to online accounts of another without express permission that is devoid of a legitimate purpose and causes the victim substantial emotional distress. Cyberstalking is also a first-degree misdemeanor, and a convicted offender could spend up to one year in jail and pay up to a $1,000.00 fine.
Aggravated Stalking Laws in Orange County Florida
Aggravated stalking is also a crime in Florida. Aggravated stalking is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years of imprisonment in the Florida state penitentiary and payment of a fine not to exceed $5,000.00. Section 784.048(3) of the Florida Statutes provides that stalking involves following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person. Aggravated stalking is the willful, repeated, and malicious cyberstalking, following, or harassing another while making a credible threat of harm to that person.
The definitions of terms like “course of conduct,” “cyberstalking,” and harassing behavior still applies toward aggravated stalking. However, the crime includes an additional element which prosecutors must prove, in addition to the others, to convict a person charged with aggravated stalking. Prosecutors have to prove that the accused posed a “credible threat” to the subject. Under §784.048(3), the phrase “credible threat” means verbal threats, nonverbal threats, or a combination of verbal and nonverbal threats, including threats made through electronic media and those threats implied through a course of conduct, directed towards the object of the stalking behavior or toward his or her family that places the target in fear. The individual accused of making the threat must have the apparent ability to carry out the threatened behavior to be found guilty, even if the individual had no intent to carry the threat out.
The consequences of a conviction for stalking, cyberstalking, or aggravated stalking are severe. The person convicted of these charges faces a lengthy jail or prison sentence along with expensive fines, probation, and counseling. Convictions for these charges have collateral consequences too. Job loss, damage to reputation, as well as loss of educational opportunities are just a few of the collateral consequences that could follow from a stalking conviction. If the alleged stalking victim follows through with the prosecution of the charges, there is a good chance that a person will ask the court for a stalking injunction as well. Accordingly, engaging a tough, hardened, and aggressive Criminal and Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer from Musca Law will increase your chances of defeating the charges and the injunction, even if the victim did not take out criminal charges.
The Process to Defend a Stalking Injunction in Orlando, Florida
Knowing what to expect after being served with an order for a protective injunction in Orlando, Florida, will help defend the petition successfully. Showing up to court unprepared and without an attorney is a recipe for disaster. The alleged stalking victim initiates the procedure by filing a petition for a stalking injunction in court. Florida law allows only specific people to file a petition for an injunction to prevent stalking. Section 784.085 of the Florida Statutes provides that the person who claims to be the victim of stalking can file a petition for an injunction. Additionally, the parent or guardian of an alleged stalking victim who is a minor and living in the parent’s or guardian’s homes also has “standing” or the legal authority to file a petition for an injunction to prevent stalking.
The petitioner must set forth facts in the petition to warrant a more in-depth inquiry into the stalking allegations by the court. Case law from two decisions issued by Florida’s appellate courts provides greater insight into the specificity of the facts that the petitioner must prove to receive an injunction to prevent stalking. In the case of David v. Schack, 192 So. 3d 625, (Fla. 4th DCA 2016), the appellate court ruled that the petitioner must set forth and prove two distinct incidents of stalking to justify the court issuing an injunction for protection against stalking. Secondly, in the case of Touhey v. Seda, 133 So. 3d 1203, (Fla. 2d DCA 2014), a different appellate panel held that each act must be proven by substantial and competent evidence. Therefore, a judge in Orlando cannot issue an injunction to prevent stalking unless the petitioner alleges and proves two incidents of stalking based on credible evidence.
After the petitioner completes the required pleadings, a judge will review the documents to decide if there is enough credible evidence to issue a temporary injunction, which is sometimes referred to as a temporary restraining order. The order is temporary at that time because the respondent has not had a chance to argue his or her position in court. If the court grants the temporary order, then the court will assign a date no longer than fifteen (15) days after the court issued the temporary order for the final hearing on the petition.
The next step in the process is vital to the respondent. A deputy sheriff from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office or a police officer with the Orlando Police Department must deliver a formal notice to the respondent. The notice must include the date and time for the final hearing, a copy of the petition, as well as a copy of the judge’s temporary order.
The respondent must contact an attorney at that time who has a proven track record of handling severe criminal cases and injunctions for protection against stalking. Trying to tackle the case without counsel, or by retaining the wrong counsel, will undermine your chances of winning in court.
Sometimes fifteen days is not enough time to construct a winning strategy. A seasoned Injunction Defense Attorney from Orlando understands that judges will allow hearings to be continued if the respondent and his or her lawyer were without sufficient time to plan a defense. The consequences of living subject to a court order are severe. Judges are willing to grant continuances for a good cause shown so that the respondent could prepare thoroughly. The upside to that ruling is the respondent has more time to prepare, while the downside is that the judge will keep the temporary order in place until the final hearing.
At the hearing, both sides will present their arguments. The judge will control the flow of the case and has the discretion to limit what testimony he or she will hear and what exhibits he or she will receive. The hearing will resemble a short trial in many respects.
After hearing from the petitioner and respondent, the judge will decide the case and enter a ruling. The judge will weigh and balance all of the evidence, as well as the credibility of all witnesses to determine if the petitioner has satisfied his or her burden to prove the case. If the judge finds for the respondent, then judgment will enter for the respondent, and the case will be dismissed. However, the court must issue an injunction if the petitioner sustained his or her burden. The respondent must live by the terms and conditions of the final order entered by the court in the injunction, including the specter of facing criminal charges for violating the terms of the injunction. The judge could rule that the injunction will terminate on a date specified by the judge, or the injunction will be permanent.
Lasting Consequences of an Injunction to Prevent Stalking in Orlando, Florida
Injunctions are invasive, erode the respondent’s freedoms, and force the respondent to alter the way he or she lives her life significantly. No one would argue that a person has the right to stalk another. However, vociferously arguing in opposition to an injunction that would limit where the respondent could go, to whom the respondent could speak, compel the respondent to participate in court-ordered therapy, surrender all firearms and ammunition to local law enforcement authorities. Other consequences are all the more reason to argue against the injunction.
Just because the police charged the respondent with stalking does not mean that the judge must order an injunction. However, it will likely occur. However, a person who is facing charges and is a respondent in a petition to prevent a stalking injunction must hire an attorney who can handle both matters expertly.
Terminating or Modifying an Injunction Against Stalking in Orlando, Florida
A court will order the injunction against stalking to remain in place for as long as the judge determines appropriate. The length of the injunction in one case will vary from another because the circumstances will vary. The order will terminate on the date specified by the court unless one of the parties moves to extend the order or terminate the injunction.
The basis for terminating an injunction before the end date will vary depending on the circumstances between the parties. The respondent could ask the court to terminate the injunction before the end date because the petitioner committed perjury or fraud on the court, for example. Seeking the advice of an attorney with the proper experience defending, modifying, or terminating stalking injunctions is the safest way to be sure that the respondent’s rights are protected.
A petitioner has the right to ask the court to extend the duration of the stalking injunction. The petitioner must file the appropriate pleading and ask the judge to extend the order. The petitioner must file the motion to extend the order 30 days before the order is set to terminate. Failing to follow the proper procedures is sufficient grounds to deny the extension request.
Defending Against an Injunction to Prevent Stalking in Orlando, Florida
Injunctions for protection against stalking are serious legal matters. The respondent must pay strict attention to the terms of the injunction. The respondent has no authority to disregard one provision because it is inconvenient, or compliance with the order is onerous. The respondent has no discretion to violate any of the terms of the order. If not, the respondent will be charged with a crime.
Injunctions might become public record. Anyone can receive a copy of a public record. Therefore, prospective employers, landlords, or schools, for example, could research the injunction. Sadly, the person reviewing the public records is likely to believe the truth of the allegations contained in the petition, even though the petitioner does not have a high burden to prove the respondent guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Respondents facing an injunction to prevent stalking must contact a highly-qualified and experienced Criminal and Stalking Injunction Defense Lawyer to discuss their case immediately upon learning they are the subject of a petition for an injunction against stalking. A lawyer with the requisite experience will devise a sensible and effective strategy to defend against the allegations and protect the respondent’s rights.
Contact the Orlando Stalking Injunction Defense Attorneys with Musca Law
Your rights are too valuable to leave the outcome of an injunction to chance. Not only are your personal rights and liberties in issue, but so is your reputation, even if the petitioner declined to file criminal charges. The Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys with Musca Law will provide you with exceptional representation. You could rely on Musca Law’s experience, aggressiveness, vast resources, and dedicated staff of attorneys if you are facing an injunction to prevent stalking in Orlando, Florida. Dial (888) 484-5057 today to schedule an appointment with Musca Law today.