Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in St. Petersburg, Florida
Dating violence injunctions in St. Petersburg, Florida, are also known as “orders for protection” or “restraining orders.” Dating violence injunctions in St. Petersburg, Florida, arise out of domestic disputes between current or former romantic partners. As such, dating violence injunctions in Florida have a narrower scope than some of the other injunctions recognized by Florida law. Nonetheless, dating violence injunctions spawn out of a violent episode that could entail one person committing an assault, battery, attempted assault, attempted battery, sexual violence, or stalking.
Dating violence injunctions are not limited to those people who live together or have a child together. Any two people linked together in a current or former relationship can apply for an injunction to prevent dating violence, in addition to parents, siblings, and children.
The essential difference between injunctions to prevent domestic violence and dating violence lies in the nature of the relationship. To qualify for the protection provided by a dating violence injunction, the parties must have been involved in a romantic relationship within the six months before the court issued the dating violence injunction.
Opposing a dating violence injunction is exceedingly difficult. Judges in St. Petersburg, Florida, take domestic violence and dating violence seriously. The state attorney’s office does as well. They should take these matters very seriously. Many people have been killed or brutally injured by dating partners and scorned lovers. No one wants that to happen again. Sadly, people with an ax to grind abuse the system and apply for restraining orders in St. Petersburg, Florida, to exact revenge on their current or former partner.
People facing dating violence injunctions should oppose them vigorously because dating violence injunctions severely curtails people’s freedom. Moreover, a violation of even one term of the order could lead to criminal prosecution, jail, probation, and fines even though the act of issuing an injunction to prevent dating violence is civil rather than criminal. Therefore, a person who has received notice from the court that someone with whom they are currently or who were once romantically involved filed a petition seeking a preliminary injunction against dating violence must contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer who is also a Dating Violence Injunction Defense Attorney as soon as possible.
The St. Petersburg, Florida Dating Violence Injunction and Criminal Defense Lawyers with Musca Law are widely respected throughout the Tampa Bay area and across Florida for their high level of competence and extraordinary representation of people who are trapped in the Florida legal system. We stake our reputation for fighting to protect our clients’ rights in criminal court and civil court when their liberty is in doubt.
Every time a judge orders a person to do something — or refrain from doing something — constitutional rights are trampled. Judges possess the authority to prevent people from visiting others, talking to others, visiting specific locations, or prevent them from attending particular events. At Musca Law, we pride ourselves on being immediately responsive to our clients’ needs, acting fast, and obtaining just results. Our legal staff is available 24 hours per day and seven days a week to start defending your case. Call Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to get the legal help you need to defend against a St. Petersburg, Florida, Dating Violence Injunction.
Five Injunctions for Protection or Restraining Orders in St. Petersburg, Florida
Florida law allows judges to order injunctions for protection in a variety of circumstances. A person who was victimized or threatened by another with physical abuse could seek an injunction for protection from the court in St. Petersburg. The type of injunction the application should seek depends upon the type of relationship or type of abuse they suffered.
Florida’s legislature provides for five different injunctions. They are:
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions;
- Stalking Injunctions; and
- Repeat Violence Injunctions.
The person who files paperwork in a St. Petersburg court asking for protection from abuse is known as the petitioner. The person against whom the petition for an injunction was filed is called the respondent. The petitioner must file the appropriate forms with the court. The form asks the petitioner to identify the type of injunction he or she is seeking and describe the factual basis to justify the petitioner’s request. A judge sitting in a St. Petersburg court will review the petition after it is filed.
Florida public policy favors the protection of victims of crimes. Therefore, the petitioner has a decided advantage when going to court and requesting an injunction for protection. When the judge reviews a new petition for a dating violence protective injunction, the court will examine the paperwork to see if the petition has made a sufficient case to justify a temporary injunction, also known as a temporary restraining order. The judge must assign the case a hearing date no more than fifteen (15) days after the judge issued the temporary injunction.
At this juncture in the proceedings, the respondent might not even know that the petitioner went to court to ask for an injunction. The court must arrange for formal notice of the injunction and the final hearing date to be served on the respondent by the sheriff of the county in which the respondent lives. The injunction has a limited effect if the respondent cannot be “served.” However, once the sheriff’s office delivers the notice of injunction in a way that satisfies Florida law, the respondent is “on notice” of the injunction. At this point, the respondent must obey the judge’s order. If not, the respondent could suffer severe consequences.
The respondent should act immediately to protect his or her rights by speaking with a well-qualified and respected St. Petersburg Dating Violence Injunction Defense and Criminal Defense Attorney once served with an injunction. Any delay in speaking with counsel who has experience successfully defending clients’ rights against injunctions and criminal charges will severely hamper the respondent’s ability to rebut the petitioner’s argument.
Dating Violence Definition in Florida
Dating violence was given specific meaning by the Florida legislature. Under §784.046(1)(d) of the Florida Statutes, dating violence means any act of violence between two people who were or are currently in a continuing and significant relationship that is romantic or intimate. The court will look at three factors when trying to determine if a relationship meets the definition of “dating” in the context of dating violence:
- Was the relationship in effect within the six (6) months before the petitioner filed for a St. Petersburg dating violence injunction?
- How did the parties characterize their relationship, specifically noting whether the parties showed affection or had a sexual relationship? And
- Did the parties have a continuous relationship judged by the type of interaction and the frequency of interaction?
Judges often preserve the status quo by issuing a temporary restraining order when the case is filed. However, judges in St. Petersburg understand the gravity of issuing a permanent injunction. Accordingly, they will scour the petition and pay close attention to the evidence to determine if the petitioner met the burden of proving the existence of dating violence. The best chance a respondent has to defend against the claims successfully is to work with a St. Petersburg Dating Violence Injunction and Criminal Defense Attorney, who has a proven history of success.
Allegations Alone are Not Enough for the Court to Order an Injunction
Meeting the definition of dating under the statute is not challenging for the petitioner. The greatest challenge lies in persuading the judge that issuing the injunction is necessary to protect the petitioner from future abuse. In addition to proving the relationship between the parties as a “dating” relationship, the petitioner must also produce evidence of:
- The petitioner was a victim of previous dating violence;
- The petitioner credibly appears to be in fear of suffering from another event of dating violence;
- The petitioner believes, credibly, that he or she is in fear that dating violence could occur even though no such event has happened before; or
- The petitioner is the parent or guardian of a child still living in the family home who is the victim of a dating violence episode.
There is no requirement that the petitioner seeks criminal charges. However, criminal charges often accompany dating violence injunctions in St. Petersburg.
The parent or guardian must have witnessed the act of violence if the respondent, petitioner, and minor child resided together. Third parties could submit affidavits swearing that they witnessed the acts if the petitioner filing on behalf of a minor child did not personally witness the act.
Procedural Requirements for Obtaining a St. Petersburg Dating Violence Injunction
A thorough understanding of Florida criminal law and the law of injunctions in Florida is necessary for lawyers who represent clients mired in allegations of abuse, even if no criminal charges were filed. Respondents who face the uncertainty of the outcome of a hearing for a permanent injunction to prevent dating violence should know as much as possible about the process to defend against the allegations successfully.
The process begins when the petitioner files the appropriate petition in a St. Petersburg court. The petitioner completes all of the necessary paperwork and could submit supplemental evidence like photographs or medical records.
Next, the judge reviews all of the paperwork as soon as possible. The matters are urgent because the petitioner alleged her or his safety is in jeopardy. The court could — and most likely will — issue a temporary injunction so that things do not escalate before the final hearing.
The respondent shall be formally served with the petition, temporary injunction, as well as the date and time of the final hearing by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. The respondent must obey all of the provisions contained in the temporary order.
The final hearing will occur within fifteen (15) days. However, the respondent could request more time to respond. Most self-represented litigants do not know that they could ask the court to grant a continuance of the final hearing. The court will keep the terms of the temporary order intact during the time the case is continued.
At the final hearing, both parties present their arguments along with testimony and exhibits. The judge will enter an order at the conclusion of the hearing. Experience informs us that respondents who come to court with an experienced lawyer who is prepared and ready to fight the dating violence injunction petition usually achieve better results than unrepresented parties.
The final hearing is the respondent’s best opportunity to preserve his or her rights. At the final hearing, the respondent has the opportunity, when represented by seasoned Dating Violence Injunction and Criminal Defense Counsel, to impeach the petitioner’s credibility through rigorous cross-examination, the presentation of physical and documentary evidence, witness testimony, and through the respondent’s testimony.
The respondent has the right to testify if he or she desires. However, the respondent must discuss the advantages and disadvantages of taking the witness stand at length with his or her qualified attorney. The petitioner must set forth factual allegations, which, if believed, could convict the respondent of a violent crime. Since the respondent has a right against self-incrimination, the respondent has no obligation to testify. In all but a few cases, the best strategy for the respondent is to allow his or her lawyer to tell the respondent’s side of the story through aggressive advocacy rather than taking the witness stand.
Severe Consequences of a Dating Violence Injunction in Pinellas County Florida
A petition for a dating violence injunction is not a criminal proceeding. Instead, the court considers petitions for protective injunctions as a civil proceeding. Criminal proceedings are prosecuted by the state attorney’s office instead of the individual petitioner. However, an injunction for protection is like a criminal proceeding in several ways. That is why aligning with an attorney dedicated to preserving people’s rights is vital to maintaining liberty. Otherwise, the court could restrict the respondent’s ability to move freely, to communicate with specified individuals, or could be ordered to attend anger management just as though the respondent was on probation. The court has broad authority to order these conditions, and others, without the respondent ever convicted of the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of peers.
Being subject to a permanent injunction will negatively affect the respondent’s daily life. The person subject to an injunction must always live the onus of complying with the terms of the injunction. Furthermore, the judge who hears the petition for an injunction to prevent dating violence has the discretion to take those steps necessary to prevent future violence when issuing a permanent injunction. The court could order the respondent to:
- Review hearings — which are public proceedings — to maintain contact with the respondent and monitor the individual’s compliance with the terms of the injunction;
- Submit to evaluation for any mental health problems, and at the respondent’s sole expense, attend counseling as deemed necessary;
- Stay away from the petitioner;
- Have no contact, personally or through an intermediary, with the petitioner and any person designated in the order; and
- Surrender all firearms and ammunition to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office or another law enforcement agency.
The legal consequences of a permanent injunction are enormous. Any violation of the terms of the injunction could lead to a law enforcement agency issuing criminal charges, which in turn, could lead to imprisonment, payment of hefty fines, and probationary requirements designed to “reform” the person who violated the injunction for protection. A conviction of a crime always appears on the accused’s public record. Additionally, being sentenced to jail after a conviction for a crime means that the respondent could lose his or her job and will be alienated from his or her family.
The collateral consequences of being saddled by a court with an injunction against dating violence are significant as well. The respondent could be labeled as an abuser. Such a label could lead to other problems like the inability to find work, purchase or rent a home, or have access to higher educational opportunities because the injunction could appear in public records searches. Additionally, the respondent might need to find a new place to live if the judge ordered the individual to leave the home shared by the petitioner and respondent.
The Procedure to Terminate, Modify, or Extend an Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence in St. Petersburg
Injunctions preventing dating violence are permanent unless the judge notes a termination date in the order itself. Either party has the right to move to terminate the injunction or to modify its terms based upon changed circumstances. The judge has the sole discretion to modify the terms of the injunction and to terminate the injunction if good cause exists.
The respondent shall file a written motion with the court asking the judge to terminate the injunction for protection against dating violence. The respondent has to show in the pleadings that the reasons for the injunction no longer exist, or continued adherence to the terms of the injunction are now impractical or obsolete.
The petitioner could ask the court to extend an injunction to prevent dating violence in St. Petersburg as well. The injunction will terminate on the date the judge sets unless the petitioner files a pleading with the court asking the judge to extend the injunction. The petitioner must file the appropriate motion before the date the injunction is scheduled to end.
Strategize with Musca Law’s Dating Violence Injunction Defense Attorneys Today
Musca Law’s St. Petersburg defense attorneys fully comprehend the disruption facing a dating violence injunction in St. Petersburg, Florida, could have on someone’s life. However, our lawyers know from experience that taking the time to prepare a defense carefully and thoroughly will help you achieve a more advantageous outcome than showing up to court unprepared and without counsel or a plan. Call Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to find out how we can work with you to mount a successful defense to an injunction for protection against dating violence in St. Petersburg today.