Protective Injunction Defense Lawyers in Tallahassee, Florida
Facing criminal charges can be a very serious matter, especially when the alleged crimes relate to violent conduct. However, what many Tallahassee residents may not know is that facing a civil protective injunction can be just as serious. In many cases, an injunction may coincide with related criminal charges, but in other cases, a person may face an injunction without any related criminal charges or investigation. Although civil injunctions are not criminal proceedings, the consequences of injunctions can be just as damaging as a criminal conviction. Any person who is facing a protective injunction in Tallahassee should not fight the injunction without the assistance of a highly qualified Tallahassee Injunction Defense Lawyer.
At Musca Law, our lawyers devote their careers to representing the legal rights of individuals from throughout the state of Florida. Not only does our firm handle all criminal matters but we also represent clients facing injunctions that have the potential to compromise their legal rights. With the assistance of our Tallahassee Injunction Defense Lawyers, many clients have successfully overcome protective injunctions. If you have been served with any type of protective injunction in Tallahassee, you only have a short time to retain a lawyer. To speak with one of our Tallahassee Injunction Defense Lawyers about your situation, contact Musca Law 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.
What is a Protective Injunction in Tallahassee, Florida?
Protective injunctions are commonly referred to as “restraining orders” and “orders of protection.” Injunctions are orders issued by a civil judge, which require an individual to comply with certain terms to ensure the protection of another individual. Unfortunately, civil injunction matters do not afford accused persons the same due process rights as those facing criminal charges. Rather than leaving the facts to a jury to decide, the facts supporting the issuance of protective injunctions are heard and interpreted by the judge. A judge’s decision could alter a person’s life for the foreseeable future. As such, it is imperative that anyone facing a protective injunction move forward with the assistance of a qualified legal professional.
The Five Types of Protective Injunctions in Leon County, Florida
Under Florida law, an individual can seek five different types of protective injunctions, which include the following:
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Domestic Violence injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions.
While each protective injunction covers a different type of conduct and/or relationship, the underlying goal of each protective injunction is to prevent imminent harm to a victim of alleged abuse, and to “restrain” the alleged perpetrator from coming into contact with the victim(s).
Dating Violence Injunctions
Per Florida Statute Section 784.046(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.” To satisfy the “dating relationship” requirement, the person wishing to obtain a dating violence injunction must show that (1) a dating relationship existed within the past six months from the date the petition seeking the dating violence injunction is filed, (2) the nature of the relationship was such that there was an expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties, and (3) the parties “have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.”
Domestic Violence Injunctions
Under Florida Statute Section 741.30(1), a person who is the victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe he or she (or a minor child) is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence can seek a domestic violence injunction. To satisfy the “domestic relationship” requirements, the person wishing to obtain the domestic violence injunction must show that the parties at issue were family or household members. As such, the parties either must live in the same household or must share a child if they do not live in the same household.
Repeat Violence Injunctions
Repeat violence injunctions apply to many different relationships, and Florida Statute Section 784.46(b) defines repeat violence as two incidents of violence or stalking, one of which must have been committed within the past six months from the date the petition seeking the dating violence injunction is filed. As such, repeat violence injunctions encompass a wide array of allegedly violent behavior as well as a wide array of relationships, which include, among others, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.
Sexual Violence Injunctions
Per Florida Statute Section 784.046(c), sexual violence is defined as one incident of sexual battery, a lewd or lascivious act “committed upon or in the presence of a person younger than 16 years of age,” luring or enticing a child, sexual performance by a child, or “any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted, regardless of whether criminal charges based on the incident were filed, reduced, or dismissed by the state attorney.” A person claiming to be the victim of sexual violence can seek a sexual violence injunction in court.
Any person who believes he or she (or his/her minor child) is the victim of stalking or cyberstalking can seek a stalking injunction under Florida Law. Per Florida Statute Section 784.048(2), stalking is defined as willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person. Although stalking is a crime that can lead to jail time and fines, when seeking a stalking injunction, there is no requirement that the alleged perpetrator be facing criminal charges. Therefore, a person could face a stalking injunction without ever being charged with a crime.
The Protective Injunction Process in Tallahassee, Florida
The overall injunction process in Tallahassee, Florida is rather quick from the time a person files a petition seeking the protective injunction to the time a court issues a final injunction order. Anyone facing a protective injunction should have a good understanding of what to expect from the process and should never face such a process alone. Working alongside a Tallahassee Injunction Defense Lawyer is crucial to successfully fighting the injunction in court. The following steps provide a guideline that applies to all injunction proceedings.
The Petition Seeking the Protective Injunction
To trigger the injunction process, a person wishing to obtain a protective injunction must file a petition in a Tallahassee court. The person seeking the injunction must use a court-approved form and clearly designate the type of protective injunction being sought. The petition must also identify all facts supporting the petition; however, the submission of evidence is not required at the time the petition is filed. Rather, such evidence can be presented later when a judge is making his/her final decision. The person who files the petition is known as the “petitioner,” and the person who is the subject of the petition is known as the “respondent.”
The Court’s Review of the Petition
Because of the pressing nature of protective injunctions, judges promptly review petitions and make a swift decision to either grant or deny a petition. Judges will make their decision based on the information identified in the petition. As such, a petitioner’s allegations are taken as true for the purposes of determining whether a petitioner (or the petitioner’s minor child) may be at imminent risk of suffering harm. Judges often err on the side of caution and grant a temporary protective injunction. Such a decision affords a petitioner with the immediate relief of a restraining order while also providing a respondent with an opportunity to defend the allegations in court at a scheduled hearing. If a court grants a temporary injunction, a hearing will be scheduled to occur no more than fifteen (15) days after the date of the temporary injunction order.
Service of the Protective Injunction
Once a court has issued a temporary injunction and scheduled a hearing, a copy of the petition seeking the injunction, the temporary injunction issued by the court, and the notice of hearing will be served on the respondent – the person subject to the injunction. The paperwork is served on the respondent by the Leon County Sheriff’s Department. Because a respondent only has fifteen (15) days to appear in court, he or she must act quickly to speak with a Tallahassee Injunction Defense Lawyer.
Appearance at the Protective Injunction Hearing
With the help of a lawyer, a respondent facing a protective injunction may seek to continue or postpone the hearing date, which provides the respondent and his/her lawyer more time to review the petition and build a defense to the underlying allegations. Once the hearing date arrives, the respondent will appear alongside his/her lawyer. The petitioner will also be present at the hearing and may also have legal counsel. Both parties present their cases to the judge by submitting evidence (such as electronic communications and photographs, among others), physical documents and/or communications, and presenting witnesses, much like a bench trial.
The Court’s Final Decision
After both parties have presented their cases, the judge will review the matter and decide whether to grant a long-term protective injunction. If a petitioner has failed to convince the judge that a protective injunction is warranted, the matter will be dismissed, and the respondent is no longer the subject of a temporary protective injunction. If, on the other hand, the judge is convinced by a petitioner’s case, the judge will issue a protective injunction that will last for an extended timeframe. Depending on the specific facts of the case, a protective injunction may last thirty days, sixty days, ninety days, or even longer.
The Penalties Associated with the Issuance of a Protective Injunction in Tallahassee, Florida
If a judge grants a protective injunction, a respondent must comply with that injunction for so long as the injunction is in effect. Each injunction will have an expiration date (except in cases where the injunction is to last indefinitely). Judges have discretion to craft injunctions to fit the circumstances of each case. Examples of the consequences and penalties associated with a protective injunction include, among others, the following:
- The requirement to maintain distance from the petitioner (and/or the petitioner’s minor child);
- The requirement to undergo a mental health evaluation (which the respondent must pay for);
- The requirement to attend anger management and/or alcohol and drug abuse counseling;
- The requirement to surrender all firearms and ammunition for the duration of the protective injunction;
- Harm to one’s reputation, as being the subject of a protective injunction is a matter of public record (which may lead to job loss and/or difficulty obtaining a job); and
- Exposure to potential criminal liability, as further explained in the next section below.
The most critical factor to remember if you have been served with a protective injunction in Tallahassee, Florida is that your legal rights on are on the line, and if you do not have an experienced and reputable Tallahassee Injunction Defense Lawyer on your side, you could be facing harsh penalties.
What Happens if a Protective Injunction is Violated in Tallahassee, Florida?
While being the subject of a protective injunction is not the same as facing criminal charges, a respondent who violates a protective injunction – in any way – may face criminal charges. A first and second violation are considered first-degree misdemeanors, which can land a person in jail for up to one year and impose a fine of $1,000 for each offense. A third violation is considered a third-degree felony, which carries a potential jail sentence of five years and a fine of $5,000. Because the consequences of violating a protective injunction are harsh, it is critical to understand the importance of complying with a protective injunction.
Can a Protective Injunction be Modified or Terminated in Tallahassee, Florida?
After a protective injunction is issued, either party can seek modification or termination of the injunction by filing a motion with the court that issued the original injunction. However, there must be a valid reason to seek modification or termination of the protective injunction. For example, if the petitioner and respondent have made amends, the petitioner may wish to terminate the injunction. Additionally, a petitioner may seek to modify a protective injunction to make the terms stricter in the event a respondent has allegedly violated the existing protective injunction. Moreover, a respondent may wish to modify a protective injunction if his/her circumstances have changed significantly, such as moving out of state. While a judge has discretion to grant or deny a requested modification or termination to an existing protective injunction, the person seeking the change has a better chance of proving his/her case if a Tallahassee Injunction Defense Lawyer is handling the matter.
Extending the Duration of a Protective Injunction in Tallahassee, Florida
If a petitioner wants to extend the expiration date of a protective injunction, he or she must seek such an extension no less than thirty (30) days before the existing protective injunction is set to expire. Failure to meet this deadline may result in the termination of the protective injunction upon the expiration date.
Why You Need a Skilled Tallahassee Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer
The consequences of protective injunctions are far-reaching, but in many cases, such consequences can be avoided. While a lawyer cannot guarantee positive results, facing a protective injunction in court without the best lawyer for the job can increase the chances that the outcome will not be favorable. Without a lawyer who knows how to raise legal challenges in court, a respondent is at a disadvantage and at the mercy of a judge’s interpretation of the situation.
In many cases, protective injunctions can be fought solely on a petitioner’s failure to meet Florida’s statutory requirements for obtaining a protective injunction. For instance, if a petitioner has failed to establish that a dating relationship existed for purposes of a dating violence injunction, a respondent may have grounds to challenge the petition. Similarly, if a petitioner has failed to establish that a domestic relationship existed for purposes of a domestic violence injunction, a respondent may have grounds to challenge the petition. Because most respondents are not lawyers, they may not know what Florida statutes apply to a given protective injunction matter.
As such, moving forward without a Tallahassee Injunction Defense Lawyer should not be considered a viable option. Rather, anyone facing a protective injunction in Tallahassee should treat the matter as if criminal charges are pending, and in many cases, criminal charges alleging violent behavior may be concurrently filed with a petition seeking a protective injunction. When a protective injunction matter relates to pending criminal charges and/or an ongoing criminal investigation, it is especially important to choose a lawyer who handles both criminal law and civil protective injunction matters.
Contact the Tallahassee Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today!
If you have been served with a protective injunction in Tallahassee, you should consider seeking the advice of a Tallahassee Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. Protective injunctions can significantly limit your legal rights without the assistance of a qualified lawyer. At Musca Law, or team of nationally recognized trial lawyers have extensive experience handling criminal defense and civil protective injunction matters. To determine whether Musca Law can help you with your Tallahassee protective injunction matter, contact our office today by calling (888) 484-5057. Our legal team is standing by 24/7 to answer your questions and advise you on your legal rights.