Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Tallahassee, Florida
Restraining orders, commonly known as protective injunctions in Florida, are powerful civil court orders that can limit a person’s legal rights, even when a person is not facing criminal charges. Under Florida law, there are five types of protective injunctions a person can seek, which include (1) dating violence injunctions, (2) domestic violence injunctions, (3) repeat violence injunctions, (4) sexual violence injunctions, and (5) stalking injunctions.
While each type of injunction pertains to distinct conduct and/or specific relationships, in each case, the outcome is typically the same – to prevent imminent harm to a person alleging to be a victim of violence or potential violence. Protective injunctions are serious legal matters that must be evaluated by a lawyer who specializes in not only protective injunctions, but also criminal matters in general. A lawyer handling a protective injunction matter must have a thorough understanding of criminal law. The accusations identified in a petition seeking a protective injunction allege unlawful behavior. As such, a lawyer who is not familiar with the alleged crimes supporting a protective injunction is not the right lawyer for the job.
If you are facing a dating violence injunction in Tallahassee, Florida, you should be armed with all of the information and guidance you need to not only prepare for the injunction hearing but to also build a defense with the help of a lawyer. At Musca Law, our Tallahassee Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers routinely help clients just like you fight to overcome dating violence injunctions that significantly compromise their legal rights. To speak with one of our nationally-recognized lawyers, contact Musca Law 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.
Dating Violence in Leon County, Florida
Being accused of committing one or more acts of dating violence is a very serious matter. Any crime involving violent conduct or physical harm carries substantial penalties, including jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. Under Florida law, Statute Section 784.046(1)(d), dating violence is defined as “violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” When determining whether a dating relationship existed for purposes of obtaining a dating violence injunction, a court considers the following factors:
- Whether the relationship existed within six (6) months prior to the date a petition seeking the dating violence injunction is filed;
- Whether the nature of the relationship between the parties was one in which there was an expectation of affection or sexual involvement; and
- Whether the relationship lasted over time and on a continuous basis.
If a person wishing to obtain a dating violence injunction in Tallahassee cannot establish that a dating relationship exists or existed, then he or she has not met the threshold requirement needed to obtain the injunction.
The Dating Violence Injunction in Tallahassee, Florida
If a court determines that the dating relationship requirement has been met, the next step is to determine whether the person seeking the dating violence injunction (known as the “petitioner”) can establish one or more of the following:
- The petitioner is the victim of past dating violence;
- The petitioner has a credible belief that repeat dating violence is imminent;
- The petitioner has a credible belief that a first act of dating violence is imminent; or
- The petitioner is the parent or legal guardian of a minor living at home who is the victim of alleged dating violence.
If the victim in a dating violence injunction matter is a minor under the age of eighteen living at home, the petitioner must be the parent or legal guardian of the minor, and must have a credible belief that the minor has been or will be the victim of dating violence. If the person who is the subject of the dating violence injunction (known as the “respondent”) is another parent or legal guardian, the petitioner must have either witnessed the act of dating violence or must obtain an affidavit signed under oath from the individual(s) who witnessed the act of dating violence.
Dating violence is, without question, conduct which causes undue harm to others. However, allegations only tell one side of the story. In some cases, allegations identified in a petition seeking a dating violence injunction are false or misleading. In such cases, a respondent has been wrongfully accused of heinous acts, which may expose him or her to criminal liability. It is important to remember that while dating violence injunctions are civil matters, and such injunctions can be issued absent criminal charges and/or a criminal investigation, the existence of a dating violence injunction could trigger a criminal investigation. Moreover, violating a dating violence injunction could lead to criminal charges.
The Protective Injunction Process in Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee courts are flooded with petitions seeking various types of protective injunctions, including dating violence injunctions. Anyone who has never faced a dating violence injunction will likely not know what steps to take when served with a dating violence injunction in Tallahassee. The process can be intimidating and uncertain, as it is difficult to know what to expect. With the assistance of a Tallahassee Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer, a respondent facing a dating violence injunction will be in a much better position to navigate the entire process from start to finish. Although every dating violence injunction matter in Tallahassee will be unique, all injunction matters follow the same process, as identified below.
Step One – Filing the Petition Seeking a Dating Violence Injunction
A person alleging acts of dating violence may choose to file a police report but doing so is not a requirement to seek and obtain a dating violence injunction. To obtain the injunction, the alleged victim of dating violence must use a court-approved form to (1) identify the type of injunction being sought, and (2) identify the facts that support the allegations of dating violence.
Step Two – Initial Review of the Petition and Decision to Grant a Temporary Injunction
After a petition is filed, a judge will review the petition to determine whether grounds exist to grant the petition and issue a temporary dating violence injunction. If granted, the temporary injunction is valid for at least fifteen (15) days.
Step Three – Scheduling the Hearing
If a judge grants a temporary dating violence injunction, a hearing will be scheduled fifteen (15) days later, which is the date the temporary dating violence injunction is set to expire.
Step Four – Service of the Petition and Temporary Dating Violence Injunction
After a hearing is scheduled, the Leon County Sheriff’s Department will serve the respondent with the petition seeking the dating violence injunction as well as a copy of the temporary dating violence injunction. The paperwork will also list the hearing date, which the respondent must attend to fight the injunction.
Step Five – Finding a Tallahassee Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer
Once served with the dating violence injunction paperwork, a respondent’s next step should be to contact a lawyer who specializes in criminal law AND protective injunction matters. The right lawyer must understand both criminal law and the laws governing civil protective injunction matters in Florida.
Step Six – Continuing/Postponing the Dating Violence Injunction Hearing
Because fifteen (15) days is not a lot of time to (1) find a lawyer, and (2) prepare a solid defense to a dating violence injunction, it is not uncommon for a respondent’s lawyer to seek a continuance of the hearing. In doing so, the hearing will be postponed to a later date, such as thirty days or more after the temporary injunction was issued. Having more time to review the petition and investigate the situation allows the respondent to be better prepared when appearing in court.
Step Seven – Attending the Dating Violence Injunction Hearing
To successfully fight a dating violence injunction in Tallahassee, Florida, the respondent must appear in court at the scheduled hearing. During the hearing, both the petitioner and respondent will have an opportunity to present facts and arguments that either support or refute the allegations of dating violence. Examples of facts and evidence include, among others, emails, text messages, social media messages, social media postings, photographs, telephone call logs, handwritten notes, mail, and witness testimony. Lawyers for both parties will present the evidence to the court and present supporting arguments. If one party does not appear at the hearing, the court will likely rule for the party that did appear. While such an outcome is not guaranteed, a party to an injunction matter should expect to lose if he or she does not appear in court.
Step Eight – The Court’s Final Ruling
At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will review the facts and arguments and determine whether a long-term dating violence injunction is warranted. If the judge sides with the petitioner, the respondent will be subject to strict terms identified in the final dating violence injunction, which will typically have an expiration date that varies from case to case.
After the Dating Violence Injunction – What to Expect
The issuance of a dating violence injunction following a hearing can create a feeling not unlike facing criminal charges or even a criminal conviction. While the issuance of a dating violence injunction in Tallahassee does not charge the respondent with a crime, the respondent will still need to adhere to a series of requirements that substantially affect his or her legal rights. Judges in civil protective injunction matters have the discretion to shape a dating violence injunction that fits the circumstances of the case. Some of the requirements a respondent must comply with pursuant to the terms of a dating violence injunction include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Maintain a specified distance from the petitioner (or petitioner’s minor child);
- Relinquish all firearms and ammunition for the duration of the dating violence injunction;
- Undergo a mental health evaluation; and
- Attend counseling for anger management or alcohol/drug abuse, or both.
When many people think about restraining orders, they may not realize that second amendment rights are on the line, at least temporarily. Because dating violence injunctions have the potential to limit a respondent’s constitutional rights, a Tallahassee Dating Violence Injunction Lawyer must handle the injunction matter on the respondent’s behalf.
Tallahassee Dating Violence Injunctions are Publicly Available
Just like criminal records, most civil records, including protective injunctions, are available for the public to see. As such, any person who runs a background check on a respondent (or simply performs a search online), may discover that a respondent is the subject of a dating violence injunction. Anyone who becomes aware of the injunction may have preconceived notions about the respondent even if the respondent has not been charged with a crime or is even the subject of a criminal investigation. The harm to one’s reputation because of a dating violence injunction can be significant and life-altering.
The Criminal Consequences of Violating a Dating Violence Injunction in Tallahassee, Florida
Under Florida law, a respondent who violates a dating violence injunction for the first time faces a first-class misdemeanor. If convicted, the respondent faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 for this first offense. A second violation is also a first-degree misdemeanor, carrying the same penalties associated with a first offense. A third violation of a dating violence injunction is considered a third-degree felony. If convicted, a respondent faces up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. A respondent could face concurrent penalties for multiple injunction violations, which means that for three total violations, the respondent faces up to seven years in jail if convicted of each offense.
Many Allegations of Violating a Dating Violence Injunction are Defensible
Just like allegations of dating violence, an allegation that a respondent has violated a dating violence injunction may be untrue or misleading, and therefore, defensible. For example, if a respondent accidentally encountered the petitioner while out in public, the petitioner may claim the contact was intentional and in violation of the domestic violence injunction. Because the consequences of just one violation of a protective injunction can lead to criminal charges, which can then lead to jail time and fines, a respondent must have a strong advocate to fight for the his or her rights in court.
How to Modify or Terminate a Dating Violence Injunction in Tallahassee, Florida
While dating violence injunctions in Tallahassee are final, both parties to the matter can seek modification or termination of the injunction by filing a motion with the court that granted the injunction. A court will not modify or terminate the dating violence injunction without good cause to do so. As such, to increase the chances of success when seeking to modify or terminate a dating violence injunction, a respondent should allow a Tallahassee Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer to handle the matter.
When a Party May Want to Modify or Terminate the Dating Violence Injunction
If the petitioner and/or respondent has had a substantial change in circumstances, good cause may exist to modify or terminate a dating violence injunction. Although rare, a petitioner may wish to terminate the dating violence injunction, perhaps because he or she no longer fears imminent harm from the respondent. A respondent may wish to seek modification or termination of the dating violence injunction if he or she has moved far away from the petitioner, with little likelihood of returning to the same location.
If a petitioner believes a respondent has violated a dating violence injunction in Tallahassee, he or she may seek a modification of the injunction to strengthen the terms of the injunction. In such cases, it is especially important for a respondent to retain a Tallahassee Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer who can be present in court to defend the respondent’s rights and interests. Allegations that a dating violence injunction has been violated are extremely serious given the potential for criminal charges. Therefore, any proceeding concerning a dating violence injunction after the injunction has been issued should only be handled by the most experienced lawyer a respondent can find.
Extending the Duration of a Dating Violence Injunction
A petitioner who wants to extend the duration of a dating violence injunction in Tallahassee must request such an extension from the court no less than thirty (30) days before the dating violence injunction expires. If the request is not timely made, the petitioner will likely have to file another petition to obtain a new dating violence injunction.
Contact the Tallahassee Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today!
Facing allegations of dating violence poses a long list of problems that can substantially limit a person’s constitutional rights. If you have been served with a dating violence injunction or expect that you may soon be served with a dating violence injunction in Tallahassee, you should consider contacting a Tallahassee Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer right away.
Time is limited to prepare a defense and fight an injunction in court. With more than 150 years of combined professional experience, the Tallahassee Criminal Defense Lawyers have the necessary qualifications you need in a lawyer to defend your rights in the courtroom.
If you would like to discuss your legal matter with one of our lawyers, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057.