Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers in Panama City, Florida
An overview of injunctions also known as Restraining Orders, Orders of Protection, and Protective Orders
People often refer to injunctions as protective orders or restraining orders. The function of an injunction is to help protect a victim of violence from his or her alleged abuser. The individual seeking the court’s protection is the petitioner. The person against whom the order is sought is referred to as the respondent.
Thousands of petitioners seek the protection of Florida’s courts every year. Of course, some Panama City injunctions are warranted and are used to protect the safety of an abused individual. In other cases, however, petitioners are seeking the injunction as a way to gain an advantage in a family law case, or simply seeking vengeance against another person.
When a person is wrongfully accused of abuse and receives notice that a petition has been filed against him or her, that individual often believes that the matter will be easily cleared up once the hearing provides an opportunity to explain what actually happened. This is, unfortunately, not typically the case.
Underestimating the serious consequences of an injunction can lead to devastating results. If the court rules in favor of the petitioner, then the respondent will face restrictions on his or her movement, on whom he or she can speak to, and will forfeit his or her second amendment rights to possess firearms and ammunition. An injunction, therefore, limits rights that citizens are granted through the United States Constitution, as well as the Florida Constitution.
The threat of violence from another person is clearly unacceptable, and so many Panama City judges are inclined to protect the petitioner, even at the expense of the rights of the respondent. When the accusations are false or unwarranted, the respondent must fight to avoid having such restrictions placed on his or her life. Regardless of the facts of the case, hiring an experienced Florida injunction defense attorney is a necessary step towards protecting the rights of the respondent.
The attorneys at Musca Law are ready to stand up for your rights and to develop the best possible strategy for your case. With more than 150 collective years of experience handling injunction defense, we are able to serve as powerful advocates for the accused. Contact us today at 888-484-5057 to speak with one of our Panama City Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorneys.
Bay County Protective Injunctions: The Five Types of Injunctions
There are five types of injunctive orders, and the type used will depend on the facts of the case. Florida Law dictates that the relationship or the harm falls into one of these categories in order for the Panama City courts to issue an injunction. The five types of injunctions are as follows:
- Prevention of Domestic Violence, §741.30 of the Florida Statutes,
- Prevention of Stalking, §784.0485 of the Florida Statutes,
- Prevention of Dating Violence, §784.046 of the Florida Statutes,
- Prevention of Sexual Violence, §784.046 of the Florida Statutes, and
- Prevention of Repeat Violence, §784.046 of the Florida Statutes.
If any of these injunctions are granted, the petitioner will suffer a loss of his or her constitutional rights. Preserving the rights of the accused will necessitate skilled legal counsel.
Panama City Dating Violence Injunctions
If a petitioner seeks a dating violence injunction, then the parties must have been involved in a relationship that was romantic or intimate. The relationship must have occurred within the last six months prior to the petitioner seeking the injunction. People often confuse dating violence injunctions with domestic violence injunctions, but while the relationships involve overlap in some circumstances, they are slightly different.
Panama City Domestic Violence Injunctions
Domestic violence injunctions pertain to cases in which the alleged abuser and the petitioner are members of the same household or family. Relationships that would fall into this category include married couples, individuals who were married in the past, people who share blood relations, people who hold themselves out as members of a family, and parents who share a child. In the event of individuals who have a child together, the domestic violence injunction can be issued even if the petitioner and respondent never lived in the same residence and were never married.
Panama City Stalking Injunctions
Florida Statutes §784.048(2) states that the crime of stalking takes place if a person willfully or maliciously follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another individual without a valid, legal justification for doing so. Cyberstalking, under Florida Statutes §784.048(1)(d), occurs when electronic communications are used in the course of conduct designed to establish communication through photos, text, social media posts, or emails with another person. If the perpetrator of the cyberstalking uses a person’s internet-based accounts by unlawfully accessing them, and in so doing, causes substantial emotional distress to the victim, then cyberstalking will also apply.
Panama City Stalking Repeat Violence Injunctions
An injunction filed by a victim who has been subjected to two or more violent acts at the hands of the respondent may seek a repeat violence injunction. No injunction can be based on an assertion that a respondent is just a violent person. A Panama City court will look at specific instances of violence. If an alleged act of violence took place within the six months preceding the petitioner’s seeking of the injunction, then the court will allow for the petition to be heard.
Panama City Sexual Violence Injunctions
Florida Law states that sexual violence includes sexual battery, lewd and lascivious behavior, sexual assault, as well as other forms of sexual violence. In the event of a criminal investigation regarding an accusation of sexual violence, the victim is required to cooperate with the investigating law enforcement officers. However, in the case of a petition for an injunction stemming from an accusation of sexual violence, there need not be any related criminal investigation. Even without the respondent facing criminal charges, a Panama City court has the ability to grant the petitioner’s request for the injunction.
Obtaining an Injunction in Panama City, Florida
A petitioner can seek an injunction by filing a petition with the court. When the petitioner files this document, he or she will have to do so in front of a clerk of the court or have the document notarized. A petition is, therefore, a sworn statement. If a petitioner makes allegations that are untruthful, then that individual can be prosecuted for committing perjury. There is, therefore, pressure on the petitioner to only make allegations that are true.
The petitioner must also explain in the petition why there is a need for the court to intervene by granting an injunction against the respondent. Within that document, the petitioner must also provide detailed information regarding the name, address, and phone number of the person against whom they are seeking the injunction.
After the petition is filed with the Panama City clerk of the court, the judge will review the document. In many cases, the petitioner will request that the judge hold an ex parte hearing immediately. In this hearing, which the respondent will not be notified of, the judge must decide whether or not the allegations warrant the issuance of a temporary restraining order. If the judge does feel that the temporary restraining order should be issued, then that order will go into effect immediately in order to protect the petitioner during the time between the filing of the petition and the formal hearing. It is important to note that the judge will be making the decision regarding the temporary restraining order on only the petitioner’s side of the story. The court has the documents containing the allegations and will have to make a judgment call regarding whether the petitioner is at risk.
The court cannot grant a temporary restraining order for more than fifteen days. During the fifteen days in which the temporary restraining order is in effect, the Sheriff’s Office will be tasked with notifying the respondent of the petition that has been filed against him or her. When the Sheriff presents the documents to the respondent, this is referred to as “service.” Service is basically official notice, and when it has been rendered, the respondent is legally obligated to abide by the terms of the order. The United States Constitution and the Florida State Constitution both prohibit the court from penalizing a respondent who has not been served. In other words, if the respondent is not aware of the petition, then he or she cannot be charged for violations of that petition. With the service of the petition, the respondent will also receive all pleadings and notices regarding the date of the hearing and the allegations that were made by the petitioner.
It must be noted that avoiding service is not in the respondent’s best interest. If the respondent is found to have been actively trying to prevent the Sheriff from completing formal service, the court will typically state that the respondent has been constructively served. The respondent will now be subject to the terms of the order despite not having the documents in hand.
The right move to make is to accept service and contact an attorney to develop a defense strategy. Hiding from the injunction will not make it go away. The first step an attorney will typically take once hired to defend against an injunction is to move to postpone the final hearing. The attorney will require time to learn about the facts of the case and the allegations and to develop a strategy best suited to those facts. Hiring an attorney with experience handling the defense of injunctions is vital.
At the final hearing, the petitioner will testify in court regarding the allegations. The respondent’s attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine the petitioner to expose inconsistencies or other issues that could put that individual’s credibility into question or illustrate that the petitioner has the motivation to lie.
The respondent also has the right to testify in court. The decision to testify or not is a complicated one for the accused. Every respondent has a Fifth Amendment Constitutional right to refuse self-incrimination. By deciding to testify in the hearing, the respondent can forfeit this constitutional protection. In some instances, testifying might provide some advantage, but this decision is one that is best made under careful consideration and counsel with an experienced defense attorney.
Like the petitioner, the respondent will be subjected to cross-examination by the other lawyer.
During the hearing, both parties are able to present evidence that supports their cases. In many cases, medical evidence, photographic evidence, and additional documents will be brought in to help the petitioner and the respondent build their cases. Modern hearings often involve the inclusion of electronic communications such as text messages, or social media posts.
The arguments that an attorney will use to defend against the petition will often be similar to those used in a criminal defense case. The respondent has the right to defend against all allegations, and false accusations, self-defense, mistaken identity, and the existence of a strong alibi are all effective ways to fight criminal charges as well as allegations made in a petition for an injunction. If the petitioner is using the injunction hearing as a way to attack the respondent in an act of vengeance or because he or she hopes to gain the upper hand in a pending custody battle, then the attorney will also likely highlight such motivations.
When both parties have finished presenting their cases, and the hearing is complete, the judge will then decide whether or not to enter the permanent injunction. The court will look at all evidence presented, and make determinations regarding the credibility of any witnesses in making such a decision. In cases where the court denies the injunction, the temporary injunction will dissolve immediately, and no longer place restrictions on the respondent.
In the event that the judge enters the order, the respondent must abide by the terms of the injunction. Failing to adhere to the terms can result in criminal prosecution.
What it Means to Lose an Injunction Case in Panama City, Florida
If the judge rules in favor of the petitioner, the respondent will be faced with serious consequences. The terms of the injunction will vary from case to case based on the allegations and the nature of the relationship. The respondent will not be able to contact the petitioner. Oftentimes, the limitations on contact will extend to the petitioner’s family as well.
The respondent will often be required to seek treatment for mental health issues or counseling for drug addiction. In the event that the party has children together, the respondent’s contact with his or her children could also be limited based on the terms of the injunction.
Respondents who are subject to injunctions will also be required to forfeit all firearms to law enforcement officers. There will be locations that the respondent will be required to avoid as well.
While the order will include serious limitations on the respondent, the consequences of the injunction can have even greater impacts on the individual’s life. For instance, because these orders are a matter of public record, they are searchable and can be located if someone performs a background check on the respondent. When the respondent seeks employment, housing, loans, or mortgages, he or she may find that the order complicates and potentially impairs such efforts.
Friends and family may learn of the order, and the respondent might become stigmatized by the injunction.
Modifying, Extending, or Terminating a Panama City Injunction
The terms of a protective order are not carved into stone. It is possible for the court to modify the terms or terminate the order. If the petitioner or respondent is seeking to terminate or modify the injunction, then the party seeking such changes will be tasked with proving to the court that the circumstances have changed to make the order no longer relevant or necessary. Modifications could also be based on an unduly burdensome provision within the order.
If the injunctive order has an expiration date, then the petitioner has the right to seek an extension of the order. Such extensions must be sought at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the order.
Contact Musca Law to Protect Your Rights
Facing a petition for a protective injunction can be frightening. The attorneys at Musca Law understand how a relationship can devolve into a volatile situation that, unfortunately, may lead to vindictive acts against another person. The results of such vengeful actions can be unjust and devastating. Panama City courts are not designed to handle and adjudicate grievances between family members or personal relationships. Sadly, the volume of such cases heard by the courts is daunting.
Hiring an attorney to protect the rights of the respondent provides a huge advantage in an injunction hearing. Contact the experienced Panama City criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law today at 888-484-5057. We are ready to protect your rights and your future.