Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Sarasota, Florida
Protective injunctions, also more commonly referred to in Florida as restraining orders, are court orders that are issued to victims of violence. Those who face criminal charges alleging sexual violence or any other form of violent behavior may also be the subject of a protective injunction. An injunction is a civil court remedy that applies in a variety of different situations to legally force a person to stop engaging in certain conduct. Injunctions may apply in the context of a business dispute but are more commonly applicable in conduct between two individuals.
In Florida, any individual can fill out a court-approved document, known as a petition, for a protective injunction. Sexual violence injunctions are just one of the five different types of protective injunctions. The other four types are domestic violence injunctions, repeat violence injunctions, dating violence injunctions, and stalking injunctions. A significant amount of protective injunctions issued in Sarasota involve a relationship between household members and/or family. Sexual violence injunctions are often issued to an individual who knows another person, but this is not always the case.
If you are facing the prospects of a sexual violence injunction, you must seek legal counsel immediately in order to protect your legal rights. Those who are served with sexual violence injunctions are only given a short window of time with which to defend themselves. That is why it is vital that you hire a Sarasota Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Attorney at Musca Law who dedicates their practice to safeguarding the rights of those accused of sexual violence and/or are facing a sexual violence injunction. Musca Law is a well-known law firm with a track record of successfully defending clients in court. To speak with a member of our legal team, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057.
The Various Types of Protective Injunctions in Sarasota, Florida
Florida law enables an individual to pursue five types of protective injunctions. Through filing a petition in court, the individual who is seeking the injunction, known as the “petitioner,” is requesting that the court issue an order forcing another individual, known as the “respondent,” to cease all contact with him or her, among additional requirements. Depending upon the nature of the underlying conduct, a person may seek one of the following types of protective injunctions:
- Sexual Violence Injunctions;
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Stalking Injunctions; and
- Repeat Violence Injunctions.
Regardless of the reason why the petitioner is seeking a protective injunction, the respondent faces an uphill battle as to whether the claims raised in the petition are supported by the evidence in the case. Accordingly, if a person is served with a protective injunction, he or she should hire counsel immediately to safeguard his or her constitutional rights.
What is Considered Sexual Violence Under Florida Law?
As previously noted, some sexual violence injunction cases may involve criminal charges, however, this is not always the case. Otherwise stated, a person does not need to face criminal charges in order to become the subject of a sexual violence injunction. Notwithstanding, even if there are no pending criminal charges, a respondent’s conduct must satisfy the definition of “sexual violence” pursuant to Florida law. Under Florida Statute Section 784.06, the term “sexual violence” means one or more of the following:
- One act of sexual battery;
- One instance of a lewd or lascivious act “committed upon or in the presence of a person younger than 16 years of age;”
- One instance of luring or enticing a child;
- One instance of sexual performance by a child; and
- One instance of any “forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted, regardless of whether any criminal charges based on the incident were filed, reduced, or dismissed by the state attorney.”
Under Florida Statute Section 794.011(1)(h), “sexual battery” is defined as “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object.” Moreover, Florida Statute Section 800.04 identifies various types of conduct that would be considered “lewd or lascivious” acts. Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 827.071, “sexual performance of a child” comprises a long list of sexual behavior that involves an individual under the age of eighteen (18). Crimes of sexual violence can involve a variety of different conduct that can cause a respondent to face serious legal and personal consequences.
Legal Requirements of Obtaining a Sexual Violence Injunction in Sarasota, Florida
A sexual violence victim must satisfy certain legal requirements before his or he can obtain a sexual violence injunction against another individual. Under Florida Statute Section 784.046(2)(c), an individual who is a sexual violence victim can file a petition in a Sarasota court seeking a sexual violence injunction against a respondent in the following set of circumstances:
- The victim of sexual violence reported the behavior to law enforcement and is fully cooperating with the investigation of the underlying criminal matter (regardless of whether criminal charges relating to the sexual violence have been filed, reduced, or dismissed by the state attorney); or
- The respondent who is accused of committing an act or acts of sexual violence has been convicted and served time in jail for a sexually-related offense, and the term of imprisonment has terminated or will terminate within 90 days following the date the petition seeking the sexual violence injunction is filed in Sarasota.
A petitioner who does not satisfy all legal requirements should not be able to obtain a sexual violence injunction against a respondent. Notwithstanding, if a respondent does not raise certain defenses in court, he or she could become subject to a sexual violence injunction even if the petitioner fails to meet all legal requirements. Accordingly, it is critical for a respondent to seek the services of a Sarasota Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Attorney who can develop the strongest defense strategy on his or her behalf.
Sexual Violence Injunction Proceedings in Sarasota County, Florida – What to Expect
While sexual violence injunction cases in Sarasota do not last a long time, there are a number of steps that must be pursued in order for a petitioner to obtain a sexual violence injunction. These steps are as follows:
- Step 1 – the Petition is Filed by the Petitioner – The first step in the sexual violence injunction proceeding is the filing of a petition in a Sarasota court. The petitioner must fill out a court-approved form and identify the type of injunction that he or she is seeking as well as submit an affidavit under oath alleging the veracity of the allegations. The petitioner may also provide documentation along with the petition to support his or her claims of sexual violence.
- Step 2 – The Temporary Injunction– A judge who presides over injunction matters will examine the petition as well as any supporting evidence and decide whether to issue a temporary injunction. Oftentimes, judges air on the side of caution and issue a temporary injunction after his or her review of the petition and any supporting evidence, if applicable. Such injunction lasts until the final hearing in the matter is held. If a petition lacks merit, the judge will deny the temporary injunction.
- Step 3 – The Scheduling of the Hearing – The next step in the process is the scheduling of a final hearing in the matter, which is no more than fifteen days after the temporary injunction is issued by the court. Keep in mind that even if the judge does not issue a temporary injunction, he or she could still schedule a final hearing in the case.
- Step 4 – Service of Process of the Sexual Violence Injunction – Once the hearing is scheduled, the respondent is then served by the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office with a copy of the temporary injunction order, if issued, a notice indicating the date and time of the hearing, as well as a copy of the petition.
- Step 5 – The Final Hearing Date – If a respondent (or his or her Sarasota Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Attorney) does not pursue a continuance of the hearing (meaning, a delay in the time when the hearing is set to occur), he or she must make an appearance in court on the day and time listed on the notice. A failure to appear will likely result in the court granting the petitioner’s request for a sexual violence injunction.
- Step 6 – The Presentation of Arguments and Evidence at the Hearing – During the hearing, both parties may present documentation (such as text messages, voicemails, phone logs, photographs, emails, social media postings, and social media direct messaging) to the court in support of their respective arguments. Other forms of evidence may also include witness testimony.
- Step 7 – The Judge’s Ruling – After the arguments have been made by the parties, the judge will render a determination as to whether to grant or deny the injunction. If granted, the injunction may set to expire or could last indefinitely. Keep in mind that the duration of the injunction varies from case to case.
- Step 8 – Compliance with the Sexual Violence Injunction – If the judge grants the sexual violence injunction, the respondent must comply with all of its terms. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges.
The Consequences Resulting from a Sexual Violence Injunction in Sarasota, Florida
A respondent who is subject to the terms of a sexual violence injunction may face numerous consequences, including, without limitation, the following:
- The requirement to surrender all firearms and ammunition to law enforcement;
- The requirement to seek a mental health evaluation at the respondent’s own expense;
- The requirement to seek mental health treatment and/or treatment for substance abuse to be paid for by the respondent; and
- The requirement to refrain from being in contact with the petitioner and/or the petitioner’s minor child, if applicable.
Keep in mind that in addition to facing the consequence of an injunction, a respondent may also be the subject of criminal charges, which could result in jail time, monetary fines, probation, and more. It is important to realize that violating the terms of a sexual violence injunction has serious repercussions. For a first and second offense of violating a sexual violence injunction, they constitute first-degree misdemeanors. If convicted, this could result in a jail term of up to one year and a monetary fine not to exceed $1,000. Third and subsequent violations of a sexual violence injunction qualifies as a third-degree felony, which is associated with a maximum of five years in prison and a monetary fine not to exceed $5,000.
The Additional Consequences of a Sarasota Sexual Violence Injunction
Both criminal cases as well as civil injunctions are a matter of public record, except in a few set of circumstances. Accordingly, any individual facing a sexual violence injunction may be labelled a sex offender even if he or she is not facing corresponding sexual violence charges. This means that a person can conduct a simple background check on a respondent and learn about the injunction that has been issued against him or her. This may make it difficult for a respondent who is subject to the terms of a sexual violence injunction to obtain a job, find suitable housing, attend college or other type of school, and/or obtain a bank loan.
Given the above, many respondents, especially those who represented themselves, do not fully understand all of the serious repercussions associated with a sexual violence injunction. That is why it is critical to work with a skilled Sarasota Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer who can help a respondent to build a strong defense strategy to avoid the serious consequences associated with a sexual violence injunction.
Terminating and Modifying Sexual Violence Injunctions in Sarasota, Florida
Because sexual violence injunctions last a long time, or indefinitely, the parties have the option of returning back to the court to seek a modification or termination of the order. The party who is seeking to terminate or modify the injunction must file a motion with the court. He or she must provide a valid reason or reasons for why the sexual violence injunction should be modified or terminated, and submit to the court documentation to support said reasoning. There are variety of reasons why a party may wish to modify or terminate a sexual violence injunction, which include, without limitation, the following:
- The petitioner seeks to terminate the injunction for any reason, including that the parties have made amends;
- The respondent seeks to terminate or modify the injunction pursuant to a change in circumstances, including moving out of the area where the petitioner resides;
- The petitioner seeks to extend the term of the injunction before it sets to expire (the petitioner in this instance must do so by notifying the court at least 30 days before the injunction is set to expire).
- The petitioner seeks to modify the injunction to further strengthen the requirements (this often occurs if a respondent violates the terms of the sexual violence injunction); and
- The respondent has evidence to support his or her claim that the facts supporting the injunction were false, misleading, misrepresented, and/or greatly exaggerated.
The Importance of Hiring the Right Sarasota Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Attorney
Lawyers across the state of Florida help thousands of clients facing a variety of legal matters. Some attorneys have experience in several legal areas, including, without limitation, personal injury, medical malpractice, criminal defense, wrongful death, product liability, family law, and bankruptcy. While there are many firms that focus on a variety of legal practice areas, a law firm that focuses exclusively on protective injunctions and criminal matters may be more suitable to handle a respondent’s case. These firms are highly specialized and may be in a more favorable position to provide stellar legal representation.
At Musca Law, our attorneys focus exclusively on criminal law and civil protective injunction cases. Given that criminal law is often intertwined with civil protective injunction cases, a respondent who is facing the prospects of a sexual violence injunction must hire a skilled Sarasota Criminal and Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Attorney who has a record of success both inside and outside the courtroom.
Contact the Sarasota Criminal and Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
If you have recently been served with a sexual violence injunction/restraining order or believe you may be served with an injunction, act quickly to find out what your legal options are. A qualified Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer can help you fight an injunction that may limit your legal rights. At Musca Law, our Sarasota Criminal and Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers have helped thousands of clients just like you from all across the state. Our lawyers are nationally-recognized for their trial skills and have more than 150 years of combined experience in criminal law and civil protective injunction matters. To speak with a lawyer about your situation, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057.