Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Sarasota, Florida
Allegations of domestic violence in Sarasota, Florida, can lead to not only criminal charges but also domestic violence injunctions, which are commonly referred to as restraining orders or protective orders. Facing allegations of domestic violence can turn a person’s world upside down even before the allegations are proven in a criminal proceeding. Additionally, even absent domestic violence criminal charges, a person can still face a domestic violence injunction.
Under Florida law, victims of alleged domestic violence can seek a domestic violence injunction, which is a civil order, by simply filing a petition with a Sarasota court. Such an injunction, if entered by the court, can severely limit a person’s legal rights, which comes as a surprise to many individuals accused of domestic violence. Because domestic violence victims may truly be at risk, courts tend to err on the side of caution by granting requested domestic violence injunctions. However, accused individuals will have an opportunity to defend themselves in court at a domestic violence injunction hearing.
Although a domestic violence injunction is a civil matter, a lawyer who handles criminal matters should be handling any injunction matter, as there is often an interplay between criminal and civil law. If you have been served with a domestic violence injunction in Sarasota, Florida, or believe you may be facing a future domestic violence injunction, you do not have a lot of time to waste. Not much time is afforded to accused individuals served with domestic violence injunctions. As such, it is imperative to seek the advice of a Sarasota Domestic Violence Injunction Defense and Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible.
At Musca Law, our team of superior Sarasota Domestic Violence Injunction Defense and Criminal Defense Lawyers are well-known for providing high-quality legal representation. With a thorough understanding of how courts operate in Sarasota, our lawyers are ready at any time to defend clients in court – whether the matter at issue is a criminal proceeding or civil protective injunction proceeding. To learn how Musca Law can help you fight a domestic violence injunction in Sarasota, contact our office 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.
An Overview of Protective Injunctions in Sarasota, Florida
In Florida, victims of alleged violence, abuse, or potential violence or abuse, can seek five different types of protective injunctions, which include the following:
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions.
Each type of protective injunction in Florida requires a victim, known as the “petitioner,” to meet certain guidelines to obtain an injunction. Failure to meet these guidelines may be grounds for denial of the requested injunction. A petitioner may be the victim in many protective injunction matters, but in some, the victim may be the petitioner’s minor child (under the age of eighteen). The alleged perpetrator, who is served with a protective injunction, is known as the “respondent” in the injunction matter. Both parties to an injunction matter will have an opportunity to present their case to convince a judge why a protective injunction should or should not be issued.
Domestic Violence Injunctions in Sarasota, Florida – Understanding the Process
The Definition of Domestic Violence Under Florida Law
Per Florida Statute § 741.28, “domestic violence” is “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household members by another family or household matter.”
Family or household members under Florida law are “spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as a family or who have resided together in the past as a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.” While allegations of domestic violence in Sarasota should be taken seriously, a petitioner must meet the statutory requirements before obtaining a domestic violence injunction. Moreover, a respondent should have the opportunity to demonstrate why a domestic violence injunction should not be issued. Unfortunately, allegations of domestic violence often brand a respondent as guilty before any facts come to light.
The Requirements to Obtain a Domestic Violence Injunction in Sarasota, Florida
The first requirement to obtain a domestic violence injunction in Sarasota, as previously stated, is to establish that a domestic relationship exists between the petitioner and respondent. What this means is that the petitioner must prove that the alleged violence was committed by one family or household member on another family or household member. Most allegations of domestic violence involve individuals who live together, but it is important to keep in mind that this “living” requirement does not apply to individuals who are parents of a child in common.
Once a petitioner has sufficiently demonstrated that a domestic relationship exists between him or her and the respondent (or between the petitioner’s minor child and the respondent), the petitioner must meet the following requirements per Florida Statute § 741.30:
- The petitioner or petitioner’s minor child is the victim of domestic violence; or
- The petitioner has a reasonable belief that he or she (or his/her minor child) is at imminent risk of becoming the victim of domestic violence.
With the assistance of a Sarasota Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer, a respondent can raise legal defenses to the requested injunction if the petitioner has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate (1) that a domestic relationship exists between the petitioner (or petitioner’s minor child) and the respondent, and (2) that an act of domestic violence has either occurred and/or will imminently occur. Legal defenses that present counterevidence disproving a petitioner’s allegations will help to prevent the issuance of a long-term domestic violence injunction. However, reaching this conclusion requires the assistance of a lawyer who has handled countless injunction matters for other clients.
From Petition to the Final Domestic Violence Injunction in Sarasota – What You Should Know
- The Petition – A petitioner cannot obtain a domestic violence injunction in Sarasota without first filing a petition using a court-approved form and ensuring the petition complies with all court rules.
- Review of the Petition – After a petition is filed, a judge will review the petition to determine if the filing meets the statutory requirements to obtain a domestic violence injunction. The petitioner, however, is not required to provide all evidence supporting the allegations at the time the petition is filed.
- The Initial Issuance of a Temporary Domestic Violence Injunction – After a review of a petition seeking a domestic violence injunction, a judge will determine whether the petition sets forth allegations that, if true, are grounds for the issuance of the injunction under Florida law. Unless the allegations are clearly false or misleading, a judge is likely to grant a temporary domestic violence injunction, which lasts no more than fifteen (15) days.
- Scheduling the Domestic Violence Injunction Hearing – After a judge issues a temporary domestic violence injunction, a hearing will be scheduled to occur no more than fifteen (15) days later. The approximately two-week period affords petitioners relief from alleged domestic violence as well as affords respondents with time to (1) find a lawyer, and (2) prepare a defense to present at the hearing.
- Service of the Temporary Domestic Violence Injunction – After a petition seeking a domestic violence injunction is filed, the temporary injunction issued, and the hearing scheduled, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department will serve the respondent with all paperwork.
- Appearance at the Domestic Violence Injunction Hearing – The notice of hearing served on the respondent will provide a date in which the respondent is required to appear. Given that the temporary domestic violence injunction only provides a respondent with approximately two weeks to find a lawyer, it is imperative that anyone served with an injunction speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. A Sarasota Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer can seek a continuance of the matter which will reschedule the hearing to a later date (such as thirty days from the issuance of the temporary injunction, rather than fifteen days). A continuance allows the lawyer and respondent to work together to (1) review and investigate the petitioner’s allegations, and (2) build the best defense possible to fight the injunction.
Once the hearing date arrives, the petitioner and respondent will appear before the judge that issued the temporary injunction alongside their lawyers. In some cases, the petitioner may not have a lawyer, which may help the respondent. Each party will have an opportunity to present evidence supporting or refuting the allegations that a domestic relationship exists between the parties and/or that an act of domestic violence either has happened or will imminently happen. Evidence may be in the form of witness testimony or may be in the form of documents, such as text messages, photographs, social media direct messages, and any other form of communication, most of which is electronic.
- The Judge’s Final Decision to Deny or Grant a Long-Term Domestic Violence Injunction – After the hearing, a judge will issue his or her final ruling, which will either deny the petitioner’s request for the injunction or grant the request by issuing a final and long-term domestic violence injunction.
The Consequences of a Long-Term Domestic Violence Injunction in Sarasota, Florida
A long-term domestic violence injunction significantly limits a respondent’s legal rights – at least so long as the injunction is active. In some cases, a domestic violence injunction may last indefinitely, but in most cases, the injunction will have an expiration date. Examples of the consequences associated with being the subject of a domestic violence injunction in Sarasota include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- The requirement to avoid contact with the petitioner (or the petitioner’s minor child);
- The requirement to surrender all firearms and ammunition;
- The requirement to undergo a mental health evaluation paid for by the respondent;
- The requirement to attend counseling or educational courses pertaining to violent behavior and possibly pertaining to alcohol or drug abuse; and
- The exposure of potential criminal liability if the respondent violates the domestic violence injunction.
Because all domestic violence injunction matters in Sarasota are unique, the consequences of a long-term domestic violence injunction may also be unique.
How to Modify or Terminate a Domestic Violence Injunction in Sarasota, Florida
Modifying and/or terminating a domestic violence injunction in Sarasota requires the party seeking the modification or termination to file a motion in court. Any request to modify or terminate a domestic violence injunction should be sought with the help of a Sarasota Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer. A party may seek a modification or termination of a domestic violence injunction for a variety of reasons. For example, if a respondent has moved out of Sarasota County (or even out of Florida), a domestic violence injunction may no longer be necessary. However, a judge is not likely to grant the requested modification or termination absent substantial evidence supporting the request.
Because most domestic violence injunctions have expiration dates, a petitioner wishing to extend the duration of a domestic violence injunction must seek the court’s approval no later than thirty (30) days before the existing injunction expires. If an extension is not requested by this deadline, a domestic violence injunction will no longer be effective once the expiration date arrives.
The Violation of a Domestic Violence Injunction in Sarasota, Florida
Violating a domestic violence injunction in Sarasota may be grounds for serious criminal charges. Violations of domestic violence injunctions range from misdemeanors to felonies, as identified below:
- The First Violation – A first violation of a domestic violence injunction is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $1,000.
- The Second Violation – A second violation of a domestic violence injunction is also considered a first-degree misdemeanor, carrying a potential jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $1,000. It is important to remember that two convictions may mean double the jail time and fines.
- The Third Violation – A third violation of a domestic violence injunction is considered a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum jail sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Four or More Violations – A fourth or subsequent violation of a domestic violence injunction is also considered a third-degree felony, carrying potential jail time of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
For many people facing domestic violence injunctions in Sarasota, it may come as a surprise that violating a civil court order can lead to jail time. However, facing a domestic violence injunction is often associated with a criminal investigation or criminal charges pertaining to the same allegations of domestic violence. As such, it is critical that anyone facing criminal charges for alleged domestic violence and/or is served with a domestic violence injunction work with a lawyer who can effectively handle both matters.
- Criminal convictions – especially those that involve allegations of violent conduct – have life-altering consequences that are difficult to overcome. Even if a person gets his or her life back together, so to speak, he or she may be forever deemed a violent criminal, a consequence that may be avoided with strong legal representation.
Choosing the Right Sarasota Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer
Being the subject of a domestic violence injunction is an experience that can change a person’s life. If there is any chance a domestic violence injunction can be successfully fought, such a result will likely not be achievable unless a highly experienced Sarasota Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer handles the matter. Although a respondent can appear in court alone, the likelihood of success is much lower. As such, finding the right lawyer is well worth the time and effort to ensure a respondent is taking all necessary steps to protect his or her legal rights.
It cannot be stressed enough how essential it is for a respondent to find a lawyer who handles criminal matters. A lawyer who does not possess much experience representing clients in criminal matters may not be the right choice to defend a person facing a domestic violence injunction in Sarasota. Any licensed lawyer can enter a courtroom and present a client’s case to a judge. However, a respondent is in a much better position to achieve a favorable result when his or her lawyer truly understands the criminal nature of the underlying allegations of domestic violence. Without a thorough understanding of criminal law in Sarasota, a lawyer may not have the necessary skill set to represent clients in civil injunction matters.
Contact the Sarasota Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
Facing a domestic violence injunction in Sarasota can feel like you have been charged with a crime, even if that is not the case. Because of the significant impact on your legal rights following the issuance of a domestic violence injunction, you need to retain the right Sarasota Defense Lawyer for the job. At Musca Law, we take pride in ensuring our clients are receiving the best legal representation possible, regardless of whether a legal matter involves criminal charges or domestic violence injunctions. To speak with one of our Florida Domestic Violence Injunction Attorneys, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057. We are standing by 24/7 to meet the needs of all clients in Sarasota, Florida.