Dating Violence Injunction Defense Attorneys in Sarasota, Florida
Restraining orders, also known as “orders of protection,” are commonly referred to as “protective injunctions” under Florida law. Not all states use the same terminology, but the general idea is the same – to stop or restrain a person from coming into contact with another person. In Sarasota, Florida, numerous individuals are served with dating violence injunctions on a daily basis. Dating violence injunctions, although civil orders, have serious consequences, limiting one’s legal rights, and exposing one to criminal liability.
Because dating violence injunctions are civil matters, many people who are served with dating violence injunctions in Sarasota do not approach the matter with the same level of seriousness as they would do if charged with a crime. However, in many cases, the consequences of a dating violence injunction may be more severe than the consequences associated with some criminal convictions. As such, anyone who is served with a dating violence injunction in Sarasota, Florida, must act swiftly to seek the advice of a Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer in Sarasota, Florida.
At Musca Law, we employ a large team of well-known and reputable Sarasota Criminal Defense and Dating Violence Injunction Defense Attorneys who know what to expect in any criminal matter or civil protective injunction proceeding. Musca Law devotes all resources to representing clients in criminal and protective injunction matters. We are not a multi-purpose law firm that handles a variety of practice areas. We believe it is important for our lawyers and legal team to handle nothing but criminal law and protective injunctions to ensure we are providing all clients with the best legal representation possible. If you have been served with a dating violence injunction, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057 to find out how we can help you. If you are facing criminal charges in addition to a dating violence injunction in Sarasota, our lawyers can help you with both matters – especially if they are related to the same allegations of dating violence.
The Different Types of Protective Injunctions Available Under Florida Law
Florida law provides individuals with the power to seek five different types of protective injunctions. A person wishing to obtain a protective injunction, known as the “petitioner,” can file a petition in court seeking one of the following types of protective injunctions:
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions.
The ultimate goal for each of the above-listed injunctions is to protect the petitioner (or the petitioner’s minor child under the age of eighteen (18)) from imminent physical harm. The only difference between the five different types of injunctions is the nature of the underlying conduct and the relationship that exists between the petitioner (or petitioner’s minor child) and the person subject to the protective injunction, known as the “respondent.”
Dating Violence Laws in Sarasota County, Florida
Before obtaining a dating violence injunction in Sarasota, it is first essential to understand what “dating violence” means under Florida law. The petitioner in a dating violence injunction matter must prove that an act of dating violence has happened in the past, or that an act of dating violence will imminently happen in the future without the issuance of a protective dating violence injunction. Failure to establish that an act of dating violence has happened or will imminently happen should be grounds for a court to deny a requested dating violence injunction in Sarasota.
Per Florida Statute Section 784.046(1)(d), “dating violence” means “violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the consideration” of the following factors:
- Whether a dating relationship existed in the six (6) months before the date a petition seeking a dating violence injunction in Sarasota is filed;
- Whether the nature of the relationship between the petitioner and/or petitioner’s minor child and the respondent is one that was “characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties” and
- Whether the “frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship” is one that lasted over time and on a continuous basis.
In filing a petition seeking a dating violence injunction in Sarasota, the petitioner must demonstrate to a judge, based on supporting facts and evidence, that (1) a dating relationship existed, and (2) that an act of dating violence has happened and/or will imminently happen absent a dating violence injunction. When a past or anticipated violent crime is the underlying allegation of a petition seeking a dating violence injunction in Sarasota, the respondent should not move forward without the help of a qualified Sarasota Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer.
Legal Requirements to Obtain a Dating Violence Injunction in Sarasota, Florida
If a petitioner can prove that a dating relationship existed as required under Florida law, the petitioner must then establish the following per Florida Statute Section 784.046:
- The petitioner is the victim of past dating violence;
- The petitioner believes he/she is likely to suffer repeat dating violence;
- The petitioner believes he/she is likely to suffer imminent dating violence for the first time; or
- The petitioner is a parent/legal guardian of a minor child living at home who is the victim of dating violence.
Obtaining a dating violence injunction in Sarasota on behalf of a minor child living at home must meet additional requirements by proving (1) that the petitioner is, in fact, the parent or legal guardian of the minor alleged to be the victim of dating violence, and (2) that the petitioner credibly believes that the minor child is the victim of dating violence. If the respondent in a Sarasota dating violence injunction matter is another parent or legal guardian, the petitioner in the matter must have witnessed the act of dating violence against the minor, or must obtain an affidavit under oath from a person who witnessed the act of dating violence.
It is important to keep in mind that allegations supporting a requested Sarasota dating violence injunction are just that – allegations. However, unlike criminal proceedings, a dating violence injunction proceeding often paints a respondent as guilty until proven innocent. Such an outcome often occurs to provide petitioners with the benefit of the doubt that the allegations in a petition are truthful. Because civil courts often grant temporary dating violence injunctions in Sarasota – regardless of the truthfulness of the underlying allegations – a respondent who has been served with a dating violence injunction needs to seek the legal advice of a Sarasota Dating Violence Injunction Lawyer right away.
What Constitutes “Dating” Under Florida Law?
Whether a dating relationship existed for purposes of obtaining a dating violence injunction in Sarasota may be a point of contention between a petitioner and a respondent. A petitioner seeking a dating violence injunction may believe a dating relationship existed when the respondent in the matter does not believe such a dating relationship existed. If a respondent does not agree that a dating relationship existed, and can prove this to a court, a judge should not issue a dating violence injunction. However, a respondent will likely not have an opportunity to contest any facts until the final hearing concerning the dating violence injunction in Sarasota. A Sarasota Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer can help a respondent develop evidence to refute the allegations in a petition – including the allegation that a dating relationship existed in the first place.
The Dating Violence Injunction Process in Sarasota, Florida – What to Expect
The dating violence injunction process in Sarasota is similar to the process associated with all protective injunction proceedings under Florida law. The following steps provide a general guideline for what to expect when facing a dating violence injunction.
Step 1 – The Petition Seeking the Dating Violence Injunction in Sarasota
The filing of the petition in a Sarasota civil court is the first step in the dating violence injunction process. The petitioner must use a court-approved form when filing the petition. He or she must check the appropriate boxes and provide any available evidence at the time the petition is filed. While the petitioner can proceed with this first step without providing concrete evidence of the dating violence allegations, he or she will be required to do so at the dating violence injunction hearing.
Step 2 – The Judge Reviews the Petition Seeking the Dating Violence Injunction in Sarasota
After a petition is filed, a judge will review the petition to determine whether the allegations in the petition, if true, meet the legal requirements under Florida law to obtain the dating violence injunction. The judge will quickly grant or deny the petition. If granted, the judge will issue a temporary dating violence injunction, which will last no more than fifteen (15) days.
Step 3 – Scheduling the Dating Violence Injunction Hearing in Sarasota
Immediately after a judge grants a temporary dating violence injunction, the court will then schedule a hearing to address the merits of the petition, which will be scheduled no more than fifteen (15) days after the temporary injunction is issued.
Step 4 – Serving a Respondent with a Dating Violence Injunction in Sarasota
Once a temporary dating violence injunction is issued, and a hearing is scheduled, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department will serve the respondent with (1) the dating violence injunction petition, (2) the temporary dating violence injunction, and (3) the notice of hearing, which provides the date in which the respondent must appear in court.
Step 5 – The Dating Violence Injunction Hearing in Sarasota and Final Court Decision
The dating violence injunction hearing in Sarasota will take place no more than fifteen (15) days after a temporary dating violence injunction is issued. However, with the help of a Sarasota Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer, a respondent can seek to continue/postpone the hearing to a later date (potentially thirty (30) days later). Such a continuance allows the respondent and his/her lawyer to evaluate the situation and prepare a strong defense to present at the dating violence injunction hearing.
Once the hearing date arrives, a respondent will appear alongside his or her lawyer to argue why a dating violence injunction should not be issued on a long-term basis. The petitioner may be present with or without a lawyer. Both the petitioner and respondent will have an opportunity to present evidence supporting each side of the story. Such evidence often includes electronic communications (text messages, social media messages, social media postings, emails, and voicemails, among others).
If physical communications exist, such as handwritten letters or notes, such documents may be used as evidence. Moreover, photographs and witness testimony may be presented to support each side. After both sides have presented evidence and argued their cases to the judge, the judge will decide to either grant a long-term dating violence injunction or deny the petition based on a failure to meet Florida’s legal requirements.
What Happens if a Long-Term Dating Violence Injunction is Issued in Sarasota?
A respondent subject to a long-term dating violence injunction in Sarasota should expect to face one or more of the following non-criminal consequences:
- The requirement to keep a certain distance from the petitioner or petitioner’s minor child;
- The requirement to hand over to law enforcement all firearms and ammunition during the pendency of the dating violence injunction;
- The requirement to undergo a mental health evaluation (at the respondent’s expense);
- The requirement to attend anger management or substance abuse counseling; and
- The requirement to refrain from all other criminal conduct (no matter how minor).
The potential consequences resulting from a Sarasota dating violence injunction will be dependent on the unique facts of the matter. As such, one respondent may face harsher consequences than another respondent in a similar dating violence injunction matter.
The Criminal Consequences of Violating a Dating Violence Injunction in Sarasota, Florida
If a respondent violates a dating violence injunction in Sarasota, he or she faces a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a potential jail sentence of one (1) year and a monetary fine of $1,000. Each alleged offense of violating the dating violence injunction will result in a separate criminal offense. As such, a respondent alleged to have violated the terms of a dating violence injunction could face multiple criminal charges. While both a first and second offense are first-degree misdemeanors, a third or subsequent offense of violating the terms of a dating violence injunction is a third-degree felony, carrying a potential jail sentence of five (5) years and a fine of $5,000.
Modifying or Terminating a Dating Violence Injunction in Sarasota, Florida
Depending on the specific facts of a dating violence injunction matter, one or both parties may seek to modify or terminate the dating violence injunction. In most cases, a dating violence injunction in Sarasota will have an expiration date that may range from days to months to a year or longer. Different scenarios may lead a petitioner and/or respondent to seek a court’s intervention to modify or terminate an active dating violence injunction. To do, so a party must file a motion with the court and provide the reason(s) why the dating violence injunction should be modified or terminated. A respondent may request termination of a dating violence injunction when he or she moves out of Sarasota or out of Florida completely, deeming any injunction to no longer be necessary. Additionally, a petitioner may wish to modify a dating violence injunction if he or she believes the respondent has violated the injunction in any way.
A respondent will have an uphill battle when facing a request to modify a dating violence injunction in Sarasota to make the injunction stricter based on allegations that the respondent has violated the dating violence injunction. Therefore, a respondent who is currently subject to a dating violence injunction in Sarasota must seek the help of a Sarasota Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer in any case where a petitioner is seeking to modify the injunction.
Extending the Duration of a Dating Violence Injunction in Sarasota, Florida
Per Florida law, a petitioner who wishes to extend the duration of a dating violence injunction in Sarasota must request such an extension from the court no less than thirty (30) days before a dating violence injunction is set to expire. A petitioner who fails to meet this requirement may have to file a new petition seeking another dating violence injunction.
Regardless of the severity of the underlying facts involved in a dating violence injunction matter, such as whether a related criminal matter is pending, a respondent facing a dating violence injunction must understand that his or her rights are at risk. Proceeding without the help of an experienced Sarasota Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer may lead to an unfavorable outcome with long-lasting consequences.
Contact the Sarasota Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
You do not have much time to act if you are facing a dating violence injunction in Sarasota. Because your legal rights are on the line, you need to retain a highly-skilled Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer to defend you in court. At Musca Law, we have a team of nationally-recognized Sarasota Criminal Defense and Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers with more than 150 years of combined experience helping clients just like you. To protect your legal rights and fight the dating violence injunction you are facing, contact Musca Law today to speak with a member of our legal team by calling (888) 484-5057. Our lawyers work 24/7 to meet the needs of clients from throughout Sarasota and the rest of the state of Florida.