Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers in Pensacola, Florida
Florida Injunction Laws, Defenses and Penalties for Violations
Injunctions, also known as protective injunctions, restraining orders, and protective orders, enable a person to seek relief from the court due to having been a victim of violence. The court in Pensacola has the ability to issue a protective order to protect the individual seeking it, known as the petitioner, against another individual, known as the respondent.
Circuit courts across the state of Florida hear thousands of injunction cases each year. While in many instances an injunction is warranted, there are some cases where a petitioner is seeking an injunction simply to obtain leverage, exact revenge, or hurt another person. This is especially the case in family law matters involving a custody battle.
Many individuals go before the court expecting that they will get a fair hearing, thinking that the truth will be the deciding factor, but that is not always the case. If a judge issues an injunction against a respondent, he or she will face serious legal consequences, including the inability to move around freely, speak with whomever he or she wants, and possess ammunition and a firearm, all of which are rights guaranteed by the U.S. and Florida constitutions.
Undoubtedly, individuals have the right to be free from fear of violence. In this view, judges in Pensacola typically favor the protection of the individual asserting that he or she has been a victim of violence rather than protecting the rights of the alleged wrongdoer. Accordingly, it is critical to have a skilled Pensacola Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorney by your side to help you to launch the strongest defense strategy possible. When you contact Musca Law, you will be advised of your legal rights, interests, and options. Contact our experienced team of Pensacola Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorneys today at 888-484-5057. Our team of legal professionals has over 150 collective years of experience handling injunction matters, which will offer you the benefit that only successful and reputable lawyers can provide you.
Types of Pensacola Protective Injunctions
Under Florida law, judges in Pensacola issue orders to protect those who seek an injunction in court. Each type of injunction requires a showing that either there be a specific type of harm or a specific relationship between the respondent and petitioner. Specifically, the Florida State Assembly passed statutes enabling courts to issue the following forms of injunctions:
- 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.
Each type of injunction, once issued, carries with it the potential for the respondent to have his or her constitutional rights abridged. This is why it is vital to hire a skilled Pensacola Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorney as soon as possible to preserve your legal rights.
Dating Violence Injunctions in Pensacola
Domestic violence and dating violence injunctions are often confused with one another. In particular, dating violence includes two people who are or were involved in an intimate or romantic relationship. In order to obtain a dating violence injunction, the petitioner must assert that the parties were involved in said type of relationship, even if it no longer exists. Specifically, the court looks back six months from the time when the petitioner filed his or her petition when examining dating violence injunction cases. While the legal right to file a dating violence case is different than that of a domestic violence matter, the types of crimes are similar.
Domestic Violence Injunctions in Pensacola
Domestic violence involves violence or threats of violence among family or household members. Family members include those who are married, hold themselves out as family members who live together, those who used to be married, and people related by blood. A family member also includes those who share a child together, even if the parents never lived together in the same dwelling.
Stalking Injunctions in Pensacola
Under Florida Statutes §784.048(2), stalking occurs when an individual maliciously or willfully harasses, follows, or cyberstalks another person without legal justification. Florida Statutes §784.048(1)(d) provides that cyberstalking occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct designed to communicate, individually or through a third-party words, pictures, language, or images through any medium of electronic communication, including but not limited to text messages, social media posts, or emails directed at another. Cyberstalking also occurs when another unlawfully accesses or attempts to access any online or internet-based personal accounts connected to a person without permission from that person and which causes the victim substantial emotional distress.
Repeat Violence Injunctions in Pensacola
A Pensacola judge can issue an injunction in order to protect the petitioner from being subject to two or more violent acts. The petitioner must assert that he or she was a victim of violence in the petition; he or she cannot just state that the respondent is a violent person. The court will enable the petitioner to move forward should the violent act had occurred within six months of the filing of the petition.
Sexual Violence Injunction in Pensacola
Sexual violence is defined under Florida law as lewd and lascivious behavior, sexual battery, sexual assault, or any other form of sexual violence. During a criminal investigation, the petitioner must be in cooperation with law enforcement in order for him or her to obtain protection from the court. Keep in mind that it is not required for there to be a corresponding sexual violence case for a sexual violence injunction to be issued against a respondent.
The Protective Injunction Process in Escambia County
As provided above, a person who seeks an injunction is known as the petitioner. He or she must fill out a form provided by the court known as a petition. A petition is a sworn document, which means that it must either be signed in the presence of the clerk or be notarized. In the petition, the petitioner must raise allegations that are truthful, as he or she is signing the petition under the pains and penalties of perjury. In essence, this means that the petitioner is asserting that the facts raised in the petition are true.
The petition must provide detailed information as to the name, address, and telephone number of the respondent. Furthermore, the petitioner must establish to the court why he or she needs an injunction.
Once the petition is filed with the court, the clerk brings it to the presiding judge for his or her examination. The petitioner may seek an ex parte hearing in order to obtain what is known as a temporary restraining order. This is meant to ensure the safety of the petitioner until such a time when the final hearing is held. The judge has the discretion to approve or deny the temporary restraining order. During the ex parte hearing, only the petitioner is present, and the judge issues his or her decision on the face of the pleadings. In other words, in reviewing the case, the judge only looks at the face of the pleadings in deciding whether a temporary restraining order is warranted.
The maximum amount of time a temporary restraining order can last for is fifteen days. The Sheriff’s Office must serve the respondent in that time period to notify him or her of the petition and the allegations within that petition. The respondent has a constitutional right, based both on the United States Constitution as well as Florida’s State Constitution, not to be held liable for the violation of an order of which he or she has not received any notice. As such, prior to service, the respondent cannot be held liable for violating that order. Service of the order will include all pleadings and notices related to the matter so that the respondent is aware of what he or she is not able to do, and what accusations the petitioner has made.
It is important to note that the respondent should not attempt to actively avoid being served upon. If the court determines that the respondent is trying to prevent the Sheriff from completing service, then the judge could state that constructive service was rendered and that the respondent is not liable for any violation of the order.
The best step to take is to accept service and contact a defense attorney. In most situations, the defense attorney will move to postpone the hearing date in order to have time to develop the best strategy to defend against the petitioner’s allegations. It is important to have an attorney who understands the process of protective orders in Florida.
On the day of the final hearing, the petitioner will have an opportunity to testify and state the allegations. The respondent will also have the opportunity to speak in court at the hearing, but the decision to do so is one that the respondent and his or her attorney must make. Deciding to testify can be problematic as it can impact the respondent’s right to refuse to incriminate himself or herself. The Fifth Amendment allows the respondent to refuse to offer testimony, and the respondent should not give up this right without careful consideration and legal counsel.
Any witnesses who testify are subject to cross-examination from the opposing attorney. Parties may also admit evidence in support of their respective cases. Medical evidence, photographs, and other documents are often used to back up allegations and defenses. In many modern cases, social media posts and text messages may also be used to support a party’s claims or defenses.
The respondent has a right to defend against all allegations, and through his or her attorney may be able to convince the judge that the injunction is not warranted. Attorneys may use arguments that mirror those used in a criminal defense case. For instance, the attorneys may claim a mistaken identity, false accusations, self-defense, or present an alibi that would exonerate them from having committed any acts against the petitioner. The defense attorney may also highlight the petitioner’s motivation to lie in the case. In many cases, the motivation could be a custody battle or revenge.
Once the hearing is complete, the judge will make a ruling on whether or not the protective order is to be made into a permanent injunction. The court will weigh the credibility of the witnesses in making such a ruling, as well as all presented evidence. If the injunctive relief requested by the petitioner is denied, then the temporary order dissolves immediately. If the order is entered, the respondent must comply with all terms. A violation of the injunction will result in criminal charges.
Consequences of Losing a Pensacola Injunction Case
Respondents who lose their cases will face severe consequences. Each injunction case will be unique in terms of the facts alleged, and as a result, the specific terms of the order will also vary. The respondent will be prevented from contacting the petitioner and, in many cases, the petitioner’s family. The respondent may also be required to undergo mental health treatment or substance abuse counseling. If the party shares children, the order may impact the respondent’s contact with those children. The respondent will also lose his or her right to own firearms and will have to surrender weapons and ammunition law enforcement officers. The respondent will also likely be prevented from going to certain specified locations.
The repercussions extend beyond the language of the order. These orders are public record and can be located in background checks. Respondents may find that the order damages their ability to obtain employment or find suitable housing. Loan applications or mortgages could be denied, and the respondent could face stigmas. Even friends and family may look at the respondent differently because of the order.
Modifying, Terminating, and Extending Injunctions in Pensacola
It is possible to change the terms of a protective order. In some cases, orders may expire on a certain date, and in others, they may be permanent. Either party may move to terminate the order of protection by explaining the circumstances that have changed. The party looking to terminate the order has the burden of proving the change in circumstances.
Either party may also seek to change the protective order. The reason for such a move could include that the order is unfairly burdensome, or that the situation has changed in such a way as to make the order no longer necessary.
If the order terminates at a certain point in time, it is possible for the petitioner to extend the order. Action to extend the protective order must occur at least 30 days before the order expires.
Musca Law is Ready to Help Defend You Against an Injunction
The Pensacola Defense Attorneys at Musca Law are ready to fight for your rights. Our lawyers understand that relationships can become volatile when they deteriorate or come to an end. In some cases, this can lead to vindictive actions that can have devastating impacts on those who face accusations. The courts are not well suited to adjudicate personal grievances, and cases are often determined quickly because the sheer volume of cases is daunting. Knowing the way the system works is a huge advantage when it comes to navigating the defense of a petition for an injunction.
Contact an injunction defense attorney today by calling Musca Law at 888-484-5057. Too much rides on the defense of an injunctive hearing to take risks. We are here to protect your rights, your freedom, and your future.