Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in St. Petersburg, Florida
Acts of violence can give rise to not only potential criminal charges but also the issuance of protective injunctions, which are civil matters that have serious legal ramifications. In Florida, individuals who are the victims of violence or reasonably believe they will be imminently harmed by another person can seek relief by filing a petition in court seeking an immediate protective injunction. Protective injunctions are also referred to generally as injunctions, restraining orders, and protective orders.
Under Florida law, there are five types of injunctions an individual can seek to obtain in court, one of which includes sexual violence injunctions. Because allegations of sexual violence are extremely serious, anyone accused of such acts must consult with an attorney right away, as criminal charges and/or the issuance of a St. Petersburg sexual violence injunction may be imminent. Criminal charges involving allegations of sexual violence can lead to convictions that send a person to jail for a substantial amount of time. The consequences of a sexual violence injunction in St. Petersburg will not lead to a jail sentence, but they will feel like criminal penalties. Moreover, the violation of a sexual violence injunction can lead to criminal charges.
The St. Petersburg Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law have more than 150 years of combined experience meeting the legal needs of Floridians. With numerous offices throughout the state, our nationally-recognized lawyers are available 24/7 to speak with clients about their legal matters. To find out how Musca Law can help you fight a sexual violence injunction, contact our St. Petersburg Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers today by calling (888) 484-5057.
Protective Injunctions in St. Petersburg – Civil Orders that Have Criminal-Like Consequences
Protective injunctions can leave a person stripped of some constitutional rights. Protective injunctions can also harm a person’s reputation, way of life, and can even expose individuals to criminal liability. Given the seriousness of protective injunction in St. Petersburg, anyone facing an injunction needs the immediate assistance of a St. Petersburg Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer. Under Florida law, an individual can seek five different types of protective injunctions, which include the following:
- Sexual Violence Injunctions;
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Stalking Injunctions; and
- Repeat Violence Injunctions.
Regardless of the type of injunction a person is seeking to obtain in court, the ramifications of a court’s decision to issue the injunction can be equally devastating. However, a person cannot obtain a protective injunction without satisfying legal requirements per Florida law. The person seeking the injunction is known as the “petitioner,” and the person receiving the injunction is known as the “respondent.”
The Threshold Requirements to Obtain a Sexual Violence Injunction in St. Petersburg, Florida
The protective injunction process is generally the same for all five types of injunctions. However, the requirements to obtain each type of injunction will vary. Per Florida Statute Section 784.06, “sexual violence” includes numerous types of behavior, including (1) one incident of sexual battery, (2) one instance of a lewd or lascivious act “committed upon or in the presence of a person younger than 16 years of age,” (3) one instance of luring or enticing a child, (4) one instance of sexual performance by a child, or (5) 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.”
A few of the examples of sexual violence must be further defined as these examples have their own legal requirements. First, “sexual battery” under Florida law, Statute Section 794.011(1)(h), 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, “lewd or lascivious” conduct comprises a substantial variety of conduct, which is identified under Florida Statute Section 800.04. Additionally, per Florida Statute Section 827.071, the “sexual performance of a child” is defined into sub-parts. Overall, because of the numerous statutory requirements, a petitioner must meet to obtain a sexual violence injunction in St. Petersburg, a respondent must work with an attorney who can challenge the legality of the petition.
A Special Note About Minors – What You Should Know
Petitioners seeking sexual violence injunctions in St. Petersburg are often alleging they are the victims of sexual violence. In other cases, the victims may be minors, and the petitioner may be a parent or legal guardian. If a minor is a purported victim in a sexual violence injunction proceeding, the petitioner – whether this is a parent/legal guardian or court-appointed representative – must report allegations of sexual violence to the police. The petitioner must also cooperate with law enforcement officials with any ongoing criminal investigation concerning allegations of sexual violence.
What to Expect from the Sexual Violence Injunction Process in St. Petersburg, Florida
The entire process from the time a person seeks a sexual violence injunction in St. Petersburg to the time the court issues a final order either granting or denying the requested injunction is a rather short process when compared to other legal proceedings. All protective injunction proceedings follow a similar step-by-step process, which includes the following:
Step 1 – Filing the Petition in Court
The person seeking a sexual violence injunction in St. Petersburg must file a petition in court using a court-approved form. The petitioner will identify that he or she is seeking a sexual violence injunction and must provide facts supporting the allegations of sexual violence along with any evidence he or she may have at the time the petition is filed.
Step 2 – The Court’s Initial Review of the Petition
A judge will review a petition to determine (1) whether the petition meets the legal requirements per Florida law, and (2) whether the underlying allegations are credible. If evidence is available, the judge will review such evidence, but a petitioner is not required to provide evidence at the time the petition is filed.
Step 3 – The Court Issues a Temporary Sexual Violence Injunction
If a petition does not meet threshold legal requirements and/or does not present credible facts supporting allegations of sexual violence, a judge is likely to deny a petitioner’s request for the injunction. However, if a judge decides to grant a petition seeking a sexual violence injunction, he or she has the discretion to do so, but the injunction will be temporary, lasting no more than fifteen (15) days. Many judges will err on the side of caution and grant a temporary injunction to provide the victim with reprieve if the underlying allegations of sexual violence are true.
Step 4 – Scheduling the Hearing
If a judge issues a temporary sexual violence injunction, the court will schedule a hearing to occur approximately 15 days after the injunction is issued.
Step 5 – Service of the Sexual Violence Injunction
After a temporary sexual violence injunction has been issued and a hearing on the matter is scheduled, a copy of the petition, order, and notice of hearing will be served upon the respondent by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department.
Step 6 – Seeking to Postpone the Sexual Violence Injunction Hearing
Because injunction matters happen quickly in St. Petersburg, respondents are not afforded much time to prepare a defense to present at the injunction hearing. While a hearing is initially scheduled for approximately 15 days after a court issues the temporary sexual violence injunction, the respondent has the right to seek a continuance of the hearing. Such a continuance will postpone the hearing to a later date. Many respondents may not know they possess such a right unless they become aware of such a right through the assistance of an attorney. To postpone an injunction hearing, the respondent must file a motion with the court.
Step 7 – Appearance at the Sexual Violence Injunction Hearing
Once the hearing date arrives, the parties will appear before the judge who issues the temporary sexual violence injunction. The judge will hear arguments from both sides, evaluate the evidence presented in the form of documents (many of which originate in electronic format), and will hear witness testimony, if any. Many injunction hearings proceed with only the parties arguing their case. Respondents who arrive with legal representation are in a better position to fight the issuance of a permanent sexual violence injunction successfully.
Step 8 – The Court’s Final Decision and Order
After reviewing all arguments, seeing the evidence, and hearing witness testimony, a judge will issue a final ruling that either denies the requested sexual violence injunction or grants the injunction. If the court grants the injunction, the respondent must comply with the injunction or else risk criminal prosecution.
Defending Against a Sexual Violence Injunction in Pinellas County Florida
Defending against the issuance of a sexual violence injunction in St. Petersburg is much like defending against criminal charges. In many cases, a person facing a sexual violence injunction is also facing criminal charges related to sexual violence. When facing a sexual violence injunction, an attorney will take a variety of steps which include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Thoroughly evaluate the petitioner’s allegations identified in the petition;
- Review all available evidence (such as text messages, photographs, videos, social media postings or messaging, emails, voicemails, and call logs, among others);
- Obtain witness statements,
- Determine whether an ongoing criminal proceeding exists that pertains to the same allegations of sexual violence alleged in the petition seeking the injunction;
- Identify the judge overseeing the injunction matter, and research the judge’s prior rulings;
- Identify whether the petitioner has a criminal history; and
- Identify whether the petitioner has a history of making false or misleading allegations.
If a petition fails to meet even one legal requirement under Florida law, the respondent’s attorney can present such an argument at the hearing. Moreover, if a petitioner’s allegations are false or misleading, the respondent’s attorney may present evidence to refute the petitioner’s claims. While an attorney cannot guarantee that a judge will rule in favor of the respondent, an attorney can significantly increase the chances that a respondent will reach a better result than he or she otherwise may reach without the help of an attorney.
The Negative Effects Associated with a Sexual Violence Injunction in St. Petersburg, Florida
The consequences of a sexual violence injunction in St. Petersburg can last for years, if not decades. If the respondent subject to a sexual violence injunction is also facing criminal charges, he or she will have a tough fight not only against prosecution, but also against a civil court judge. In some cases, a person facing a sexual violence injunction has not been charged with any crime. Whether a related criminal proceeding simultaneously exists pertaining to allegations of sexual violence, a sexual violence injunction can cause substantial harm to the respondent, including, among others, the following:
- The development of a reputation as a sexually violent person, even when allegations of sexual violence have not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt;
- Limitation on where a respondent can go within a given area (such as maintaining a certain distance from the petitioner);
- Limitation on the respondent’s ability to possess firearms or ammunition, at least so long as a sexual violence injunction is effective;
- The requirement to undergo a mental health evaluation;
- The requirement to seek counseling at the respondent’s expense; and
- The potential exposure of criminal liability if a court finds that a respondent has violated a sexual violence injunction.
Violating a sexual violence injunction in St. Petersburg can lead to both misdemeanors and felonies. Both a first and second violation of a sexual violence sexual violence injunction is considered first-degree felonies under Florida law, which can lead to one year in jail for each offense along with a fine of $1,000 for each offense. Third, fourth, and subsequent violations of a sexual violence injunction are considered third-degree felonies under Florida law, which can lead to five years in jail for each of these offenses along with a fine of up to $5,000 for each of these offenses.
How to Terminate or Modify a Sexual Violence Injunction in St. Petersburg, Florida
The termination or modification of a sexual violence injunction in St. Petersburg is possible, but to seek changes to existing injunctions, parties must file motions with the court. A judge has the discretion to decide to terminate or modify a sexual violence injunction after evaluating the motion and any evidence supporting the motion. Examples of why a sexual violence injunction may be terminated or modified include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The petitioner, for any reason, wishes to terminate the injunction;
- The petitioner wishes to strengthen the terms of the injunction based on alleged conduct by the respondent (such as an alleged repeat act of sexual violence);
- The respondent is moving out of state and wishes to terminate the injunction as being no longer relevant or needed;
- The respondent wishes to terminate the injunction after obtaining evidence that the petitioner’s allegations of sexual violence were false or misleading (such evidence typically comes in the form of electronic communications); and
- The parties make amends and wish to jointly terminate a sexual violence injunction (this may happen in cases where the parties have had a prior relationship and/or share a child).
The Duration of a Sexual Violence Injunction in St. Petersburg, Florida
Because judges have wide discretion to issue orders as they see fit to address a particular case, they use this discretion to determine how long a sexual violence injunction should last. As such, a judge may believe thirty (30) or sixty (60) days is sufficient to protect the victim of sexual violence in a given case. In other cases, a judge may feel six (6) months, one (1) year, or even longer is necessary to protect the victim in a given case. A judge may even decide that a sexual violence injunction in St. Petersburg should last indefinitely or until the matter is addressed at a later date – whenever that may be.
If a sexual violence injunction has an expiration date and the petitioner wishes to extend the duration of the injunction, he or she must seek such an extension with the court at least 30 days before the injunction expires. If the petitioner does not seek the extension, the sexual violence injunction will no longer remain in effect, and the respondent will no longer have to comply with the requirements of the injunction. Regardless of whether one or more parties wish to terminate, modify, or extend the duration of a sexual violence injunction in St. Petersburg, the process for doing so can be complicated, and the results of such efforts can have serious implications. Therefore, all sexual violence injunction matters should be handled by an attorney.
Contact the St. Petersburg Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
Sexual violence injunctions can have severe and long-lasting consequences. As such, if you have been served with a sexual violence injunction, you should contact a St. Petersburg Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. To fight a serious injunction, you need the best attorney for the job. With more than 150 years of combined professional experience, the Sexual Violence Injunction Defense and Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law have the required experience, skill, dedication, and resources to provide clients with superior legal representation that seeks to protect clients’ rights. To schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matter with Musca Law, contact our office today by calling (888) 484-5057. Our legal team is ready to speak with you 24/7 to provide you with the guidance you need to make an informed decision about your legal matter.