Injunction Defense Lawyers in Sarasota, Florida
An Overview of Protective Orders, Orders of Protect, & Injunctions in Sarasota, Florida
Injunctions, also known as protective orders, restraining orders, and protective injunctions, are all terms that are synonymous in Florida. Notwithstanding, each type of protective injunction is different. Generally speaking, an injunction is a civil court remedy that is handled by a judge rather than a jury, which is meant to protect the alleged victim from harm. The type of injunction pursued in Florida depends upon the underlying conduct.
If an individual thinks that he or she is in imminent danger of harm, he or she can seek an injunction by filing a form provided by the court known as a “petition.” The individual who pursues an injunction is known as the “petitioner,” while the person who may be subject to the terms of an injunction is referred to as the “respondent.”
Once the petitioner files a petition, it is critical for the respondent to immediately seek qualified legal counsel to ensure a fair process in court. The respondent must establish to the court that the claims raised by the petitioner are misrepresented, misstated, exaggerated, or completely false. It is vital for a respondent to understand that if an injunction is issued against him or her, the consequences can affect him or her for many years to come, if not permanently.
At Musca Law, our diligent and nationally-recognized team of Sarasota Injunction Defense Attorneys help clients to develop the strongest defense case possible. Notwithstanding the circumstances, a respondent must seek competent legal counsel after being served with a petition. If you are the subject of an injunction in Sarasota, it is critical that you speak with an attorney at Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057. Do not wait; contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
The Filing of the Petition in Sarasota
Under Florida law, any person can file a petition, which, as noted above, is a court-approved form that allows a petitioner to provide a detailed account of the facts and circumstances that led him or her to believe that he or she is at risk for being harmed by the respondent.
Given that the purpose of a Sarasota injunction is meant to safeguard the petitioner from future harm, judges often issue a temporary injunction to immediately put an end to all contact with the respondent. The injunction essentially “restrains” the respondent from contacting the petitioner for the period after the injunction is issued up until the date of the final hearing, which is typically fifteen days later. At the hearing, both parties have the right to submit evidence to the court, which may include documentation (such as phone logs, text messages, emails, letters, etc.) as well as witness testimony.
The Different Types of Injunctions in Sarasota County
As previously stated, there are a number of different types of injunctions that a petitioner can pursue, which again, are meant to protect him or her from future harm, including threats of violence. In Sarasota, a person can seek the type of injunction that applies in his or her case. As such, the types of injunctions in Sarasota are as follows:
- Dating Violence Injunctions
- Stalking Injunctions
- Sexual Violence Injunctions
- Repeat Violence Injunctions
- Domestic Violence Injunctions
In some cases, a petitioner may claim certain facts that support the requirement for more than one type of injunction. Regardless, the result will be the same – the respondent will be barred from having any future contact with the petitioner.
Domestic Violence Injunctions in Sarasota
In Sarasota, Florida, a person can seek a domestic violence injunction if the parties share a child and/or live in the same home. Domestic violence refers to several acts of violence, including battery, false imprisonment, assault, and kidnapping, to name a few. Keep in mind that threats to commit any of these acts qualify as domestic violence under Florida law.
Dating Violence Injunctions in Sarasota
Under Florida law, domestic violence and dating violence are similar however, in a dating violence case, the parties do not have to share a child and/or live in the same home. Conversely, dating violence pertains to those who have an intimate and/or romantic relationship. However, the underlying conduct alleged in the petition is typically the same as that of domestic violence. If the relationship is no longer in effect, a judge can still approve a dating violence injunction if it lasted at least six months before the petitioner sought a dating violence injunction.
Stalking Injunctions in Sarasota
Under Florida law, Florida Statutes Section 784.048(2) provides that an individual may pursue stalking charges if the respondent “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.” Under Florida Statutes Section 784.048(1)(d), “cyberstalk” means:
- “[t]o engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person; or
- [t]o access, or attempt to access, the online accounts or Internet-connected home electronic systems of another person without that person’s permission, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.”
Stalking constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor, which is associated with a maximum one-year jail term and a monetary fine not to exceed $1,000. Keep in mind that an individual who allegedly stalked another individual does not need to face criminal charges in order for a petitioner to obtain a stalking injunction. As such, a person who is alleged to have been stalked can seek a stalking injunction without a corresponding criminal matter addressing the same behavior.
Repeat Violence Injunctions in Sarasota
A petitioner can pursue a repeat violence injunction if he or she was the alleged victim of two or more acts of violence or stalking. A judge may approve a repeat violence injunction, even if one of the acts of violence or stalking occurred within six months prior to the time when the petition was filed by the petitioner.
Sexual Violence Injunction in Sarasota
Under Florida law, sexual violence includes such as rape and lewdness against a child (an individual under the age of eighteen). In many cases, a sexual violence injunction is sought when there is a pending criminal proceeding addressing the same conduct. Notwithstanding, a person can still pursue a sexual violence injunction even if there is no criminal case.
The Protective Injunction Process in Sarasota
After a person files a petition for a protective order in Sarasota, the judge will immediately make a determination as to whether to grant or deny a temporary injunction. The petitioner must allege enough facts to support the need for a temporary injunction. Oftentimes, judges air on the side of caution and issue a temporary injunction, the terms of which last until the final hearing date. What this means is that the respondent cannot have any further contact with the petitioner (and must immediately leave a shared dwelling, if applicable) until the final hearing is held.
In Sarasota, a final injunction hearing will be held fifteen days following the time when the judge issues a temporary injunction (keep in mind that the judge may also deny the temporary injunction yet still schedule a hearing). Once a judge decides to issue a temporary injunction and schedules s a final hearing in the matter, the respondent will be served by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office with a copy of the petition, a temporary injunction order (if issued), and a notice of the date and time of the final hearing.
At this juncture, it is critical for a respondent to hire an attorney who is adept at handling injunction cases. Because fifteen days is not a lot of time to prepare for a strategic defense, a skilled Sarasota Injunction Defense Attorney will often seek a continuance of the case, which means that the hearing date, if approved by the judge, will be delayed. At the final hearing, the parties can present evidence to support their respective positions, which may include documentation such as phone logs, text messages, and emails, as well as call witnesses to the stand. At the conclusion of the final hearing, the judge decides whether or not to issue a permanent injunction.
The Consequences of a Permanent Injunction in Sarasota
If a judge in Sarasota issues a permanent injunction, the respondent must adhere to all of its terms, including immediately vacating a shared dwelling, if applicable, and having no further contact, whether direct or indirect (i.e., through a family member or friend), with the petitioner.
Although injunctions are civil orders, they become part of a person’s public record, which means that employers and others can learn that an injunction has been issued against a respondent. This can negatively affect a respondent’s ability to find gainful employment and suitable housing. It can also prevent a respondent from obtaining a bank loan, as well as negatively affect his or her relationship with others, such as family and friends.
Balancing the needs to safeguard victims of violence as well as the wellbeing and reputation of an accused person is complex in Sarasota. While judges want a petitioner to be protected from further acts of violence, they also do not want to have a respondent harmed due to misleading, misrepresented, exaggerated, or completely false accusations. Keep in mind that if a respondent fails to appear in court to challenge the accusations, he or she will likely become subject to a permanent injunction, which as provided above, is associated with serious consequences that can affect a respondent’s life for years to come.
In this view, it is critical for a respondent who is the subject of an injunction hearing to understand the severity of the repercussions associated with a permanent injunction and how a skilled Sarasota Injunction Defense Attorney can increase his or her chances of having a successful result (meaning, the denial of the permanent injunction). While hiring an attorney costs money, the cost of superior legal representation is well worth it when the consequences include, without limitation, a tarnished reputation, the threat of criminal liability, social stigma, the loss of one’s job, the loss of relationships with family and/or friends, the need to undergo a mental health evaluation, the requirement to seek mental health treatment at a respondent’s sole expense, and the infringement of a respondent’s Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, many people do not know how serious an injunction matter is until they find themselves in this situation.
The Consequences of Violating a Permanent Injunction in Sarasota
If a respondent violates an injunction, whether it is for domestic violence, stalking, repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence, he or she may be subject to criminal penalties. In other words, if the respondent violates any of the terms of an injunction, he or she will likely face criminal charges, which can be minor or serious, depending upon the facts of the case. If a violation is intended, or willful, the respondent could be sent to jail, if convicted. This is why it is vital that a respondent contact a skilled Sarasota Criminal and Injunction Defense Lawyer if he or she is accused of violating an injunction.
How a Sarasota Criminal and Injunction Defense Attorney Can Make a Difference for You
It is important for a respondent to understand that an injunction case is similar to a criminal matter. Meaning, once a respondent is served by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, he or she should understand that his or her constitutional rights are at stake. If a respondent does not appear in court, he or she is at risk of facing a permanent injunction, which is publicly available by conducting a simple background search (often done by employers, landlords, and bank loan officers).
Once a respondent hires an experienced Sarasota Injunction Defense Lawyer, said attorney will collect all applicable evidence in the case (which may be in the form of phone logs, emails, text messages, letters, or social media postings) as well as evaluate the allegations raised in the petition. A skilled Sarasota Injunction Defense Attorney will also help build a strong defense strategy that will be presented at the final hearing.
A reputable Sarasota Injunction Defense Attorney is essential, as he or she will be familiar with (i) the court’s procedures, (ii) the ins and outs of the courtroom, and (iii) the judge, all of which are vital to one’s defense. Keep in mind that knowing the judge and how he or she typically responds to injunction cases is important in building one’s defense. Specifically, one judge may reach a different conclusion than another judge under the same set of circumstances. This is why it is critical for a respondent’s attorney to be familiar with the presiding judge and how he or she typically rules in injunction cases.
Many people feel that they can adequately represent themselves in court. While this may be effective in some matters (such as small claims court cases), however, when facing the prospects of a permanent injunction, the best advocate is a skilled Sarasota Injunction Defense Attorney who can advise a respondent about his or her legal rights and develop the strongest defense case possible. A solid understanding of criminal law is vital in injunction cases, which means that it is critical to work with an attorney who is adept at handling injunction matters. Without question, of you are a respondent in an injunction matter, you need to work with an attorney who has proven results in Sarasota and throughout the state of Florida.
Contact the Sarasota Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today to Safeguard Your Legal Rights
Injunctions can lead to permanent and devastating consequences for a person in Sarasota, Florida. While the injunction process is a civil matter, the aftermath of an injunction can feel much like a criminal matter. If you have been served with a temporary injunction, you must act quickly to speak with a Sarasota Criminal and Injunction Defense Lawyer. At Musca Law, our award-winning Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyers have successfully helped other clients overcome the injunction process. To find out how Musca Law may be able to help you or a loved one facing an injunction and/or criminal charges, contact our office today by calling (888) 484-5057. We are available 24/7 to provide you with the guidance and legal advice you need to move forward.