Dating Violence Injunction Defense Attorneys in Tampa, Florida
Injunctions, also known as “restraining orders” or “orders of protection,” are often the result of matters involving domestic violence in Tampa, Florida. Such injunctions apply to a variety of violent behavior, including, among others, assault, attempted assault, battery, attempted battery, stalking, and sexual violence. Such injunctions also apply to a variety of relationships that are not limited to a domestic relationship.
For example, in addition to household members (such as spouses, domestic partners, siblings, parents, and children), injunctions may involve individuals who are dating but do not live together, neighbors, co-workers, employers, friends, strangers who may be accused of stalking, and former significant others. Alongside domestic violence injunctions, dating violence injunctions are common in Tampa, which involve individuals who have been romantically involved within six months before the issuance of a dating violence injunction.
Anyone facing a dating violence injunction in Tampa has a tough fight ahead, as the consequences of becoming the subject of an injunction are far-reaching and not unlike the consequences resulting from a criminal conviction. While a dating violence injunction will not result in jail time, violation of the injunction exposes the subject of the dating violence injunction to criminal charges. As such, individuals who have been served with a temporary dating violence injunction in Tampa must act quickly to seek the advice and counsel of a superior Tampa Criminal Defense and Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer.
The Tampa Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law are known for providing excellent legal representation to individuals not only in the Tampa area but also from all corners of the state of Florida. Our law firm’s ability to reach so many accused individuals in Florida enables our legal team to build a reputation for protecting the rights of clients to the fullest extent possible.
Because constitutional rights are on the line when facing a Tampa dating violence injunction, anyone facing such an injunction should consider contacting Musca Law as soon as possible. Our attorneys are available 24/7 to help clients in a time of need. Contact Musca Law today to find out how our Tampa Dating Violence Injunction Lawyers may be able to help you by calling (888) 484-5057.
Five Types of Protective Injunctions/Restraining Orders in Tampa, Florida
Pursuant to Florida law, individuals who may be the victims of alleged violent conduct or potentially violent conduct can pursue protective injunctions/restraining orders. Florida law provides five different types of injunctions which include the following:
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Stalking Injunctions; and
- Sexual Violence Injunctions.
A person who wishes to seek an injunction against another person must do so by filing a petition in a Tampa court. Injunctions are civil matters, as such, no criminal prosecution is involved in the injunction process, and a court is not seeking to determine whether a person has committed any crime. The person who files the petition is called the “petitioner,” and the person against whom the injunction is sought is called the “respondent.” While the safety and well-being of all Tampa residents are paramount, and as such, Florida law seeks to protect these individuals, many respondents are falsely accused of conduct that can lead to a devastating injunction that is available for the public to see.
To successfully seek an injunction in Tampa, the petitioner must use a court-approved form to (1) designate which type of injunction is being sought (domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence, stalking, or sexual violence) as well as (2) identify the underlying facts that support the injunction. A judge will review the petition to determine if the initial allegations, if true, support the issuance of an injunction.
If the judge ultimately issues an injunction, the respondent will be served with the injunction (which is temporary) and schedule a hearing to take place fifteen (15) days after the judge issues the injunction. At the time of the hearing, the respondent will appear (and should do so alongside a qualified Tampa Injunction Defense Lawyer) and present his/her case to refute the petitioner’s allegations, hoping to prevent the issuance of a permanent injunction. Because of the legal ramifications of a permanent injunction, it cannot be stated enough how crucial it is to ensure anyone facing an injunction has a highly skilled Tampa Injunction Defense Lawyer handling the matter.
The Definition Dating Violence Under Florida Law
Pursuant to Florida 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.” The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the consideration” of three factors, which include the following:
- Whether a dating relationship existed within the past six (6) months from the date in which the petition for Tampa dating violence injunction is filed;
- Whether the nature of the relationship is “characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties;” and
- Whether the “frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship” was one in which the persons were involved “over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.”
Although a Tampa judge may be more likely to give a petitioner the benefit of doubt and grant a temporary dating violence injunction, the judge will carefully scrutinize the underlying facts of the allegations to decide whether the petitioner has credibly shown that all requirements of what constitutes “dating violence” under Florida law have been met. However, to have the best chance possible of successfully defending a dating violence injunction in court, anyone facing a dating violence injunction in Tampa should work with a Tampa Dating Violence Injunction Lawyer with a track record of prior success handling the same matters.
A Petitioner Must Do More Than Allege Acts of Violence in a Tampa Dating Violence Injunction Proceeding
If a petitioner has established that a “dating” relationship existed for purposes of meeting statutory requirements of “dating violence” under Florida law, he or she must also show the following:
- The petitioner is the victim of past dating violence;
- The petitioner credibly believes he or she is in imminent danger of suffering recurrent dating violence;
- The petitioner credibly believes he or she is in imminent danger of suffering dating violence for the first time; or
- The petitioner is a parent or legal guarding of a minor living at home who is the victim of alleged dating violence.
If a petitioner is seeking a dating violence injunction on behalf of a minor under the age of eighteen (18), the petitioner – who is the parent or legal guardian – must credibly believe that dating violence has occurred. If the respondent in a dating violence injunction matter involving a minor living at home is another parent or legal guardian, the petitioner must have either witnessed the act of dating violence or must submit an affidavit (which is a sworn document) from other individuals who have witnessed an act of dating violence.
Given that dating violence injunctions in Tampa are serious legal matters, judges will require petitioners to submit substantial evidence supporting the underlying allegations and that there is a real threat to the petitioner’s (or the petitioner’s minor child) safety. However, because all legal proceedings are uncertain and it is difficult for a respondent to anticipate how a judge will rule, it is best to allow a Tampa Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer who knows the judges to handle the matter.
The Step-by-Step Process of Seeking and Obtaining a Tampa Dating Violence Injunction
Most individuals who are not attorneys specializing in criminal law and injunction matters will not thoroughly understand the injunction process from start to finish. Respondents who are facing Tampa dating violence injunctions should learn as much as possible about the process to better understand what needs to happen to fight a Tampa dating violence injunction successfully.
Step 1 – The Petition for Dating Violence Injunction is Filed in a Tampa Court
A person who alleges he or she (or his/her minor child) is the victim or potential victim of dating violence files a petition in a Tampa court seeking a dating violence injunction. The petitioner may provide supporting documentation at the time the petition is filed as a judge will want to see any evidence the petitioner has that his/her allegations are true and accurate.
Step 2 – The Court Reviews the Tampa Petition for Dating Violence Injunction
Given that injunction matters are urgent (as a person’s safety and well-being may be at risk), a judge immediately reviews a petition for dating violence injunction after it is filed. The judge will review the underlying facts of the petition as well as evaluate whether the requirements to obtain a dating violence injunction have been satisfied per Florida law. As previously stated, it should come as no surprise that judges may choose to err on the side of caution and give a petitioner the benefit of the doubt that the allegations, if true, would support the issuance of a dating violence injunction in Tampa.
Step 3 – The Initial Court Ruling – The Denial or Granting of a Temporary Dating Violence Injunction
After reviewing the petition, a judge will either deny the petitioner’s request for the dating violence injunction or will grant the injunction on a temporary basis. At this time, a respondent likely is unaware he or she is the subject of a petition seeking a Tampa dating violence injunction.
Step 4 – The Court Schedules a Hearing on the Tampa Dating Violence Injunction
If the court issues a temporary dating violence injunction, a hearing will be scheduled no later than fifteen (15) days after the issuance of the injunction.
Step 5 – Service of Process – The Respondent Receives the Temporary Dating Violence Injunction
Once a court issues the temporary dating violence injunction in Tampa and schedules a hearing, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department will serve the respondent with the petition. The respondent receives (1) a copy of the petition, (2) a copy of the temporary injunction order, and (3) a notice of hearing with the date which the respondent is to appear in court.
Step 6 – Filing a Motion for Continuance to Seek Additional Time to Respond
Because courts provide no more than 15 days for a respondent to appear in court regarding a very serious legal matter, respondents who quickly obtain a Tampa Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer will seek to continue the hearing by filing a motion for continuance in court. Such a continuance allows a respondent more time to investigate the matter and build a defense. Respondents who move forward without an attorney may not realize they have the option of filing such a motion.
Step 7 – The Final Tampa Dating Violence Injunction Hearing
After a final hearing is scheduled, both parties will appear in court with their attorneys to argue the matter and convince the judge why a permanent dating violence injunction should be granted or denied. At the time of the hearing, both sides can present evidence (such as documented communications via text, social media direct messaging, voicemails, emails, and phone logs, and photographs) as well as witnesses to testify on behalf of each party.
Step 8 – The Court’s Decision to Grant or Deny a Permanent Tampa Dating Violence Injunction
After hearing the arguments, seeing the evidence, and hearing testimony from witnesses, the judge will issue an order either granting a permanent dating violence injunction or denying the request for the injunction. If the court issues the permanent injunction, the respondent will be required to comply with all portions of the injunction and will be subject to criminal liability for any violation of the injunction. A judge has the discretion to determine how long the injunction is to remain in effect. The duration may be a few months, one year, a few years, or permanent, and the duration will be dependent on the facts.
The Severe Consequences of a Hillsborough County Dating Violence Injunction
Even though injunctions are civil orders and do not themselves result in criminal charges or the penalties associated with criminal convictions, such as jail times and fines, injunctions do have other consequences that make respondents feel like criminals. First, injunctions are a matter of public record. What this means is that anyone and everyone can run a public records search, including a background check, and an injunction would appear on a respondent’s record. While the injunction does not prove a respondent committed any crime, the nature of the issue – dating violence – may lead many people to believe the allegations even though no criminal proceeding existed that resulted in criminal charges.
Additionally, a judge has the discretion to take whatever measures he or she believes are necessary when issuing a permanent dating violence injunction in Tampa. Such measures may include, among others, the following:
- Periodic hearings to review whether a respondent is complying with a Tampa dating violence injunction;
- The requirement to undergo a mental health evaluation and undergo counseling (at the respondent’s expense);
- To maintain a certain distance from the petitioner;
- The requirement to live a certain distance away from the petitioner; and
- The requirement to surrender firearms and ammunition during the pendency of the Tampa dating violence injunction.
Lastly, along with the previously mentioned consequences, a violation of a Tampa dating violence injunction may result in criminal charges, and because injunctions are very strict, the threshold for violating a dating violence injunction is rather low. If violated for the first time, a respondent faces a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida law, which may result in jail time of up to one year and a fine of $1,000. Subsequent violations lead to more serious criminal charges, including a third-degree felony, which may result in jail time of up to five years and a fine of $5,000.
Terminating, Modifying, and Extending Tampa Dating Violence Injunctions in Tampa
While Tampa dating violence injunctions are permanent for the duration indicated in the injunction order, both petitioners and respondents can seek to terminate the injunction entirely or modify the injunction to adjust to a change in circumstances. If a petitioner wishes to present evidence suggesting a respondent has violated the Tampa dating violence injunction, he or she can file a motion with the court seeking to modify the injunction to have stricter terms that may be dependent upon a potential criminal matter regarding the violation of the injunction.
A respondent may also seek to terminate a Tampa dating violence injunction if he or she moves (or the petitioner moves) or has any other change in circumstances that would make the injunction impractical or obsolete. Additionally, a petitioner who wishes to extend the duration of a Tampa dating violence injunction must seek to do so before the existing injunction expires.
Failing to Contact a Tampa Dating Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer – What You Should Know
Too much is on the line to defend yourself against a potential dating violence injunction in Tampa. While no jail time will result from the issuance of a dating violence injunction, the long list of consequences identified above can brand a person as a criminal when no criminal charges have been filed. Even though many dating violence injunction matters involve related criminal matters, many injunctions move forward without a respondent ever being the subject of a criminal investigation. As such, do not place your rights and livelihood on the line by defending yourself in court or choosing to work with an attorney that does not have the requisite skill and knowledge to fully represent your rights and interests.
Contact the Tampa Dating Violence Injunction Lawyers of Musca Law Today
Dating violence injunctions are serious matters that require high-quality legal representation. The Tampa Defense Lawyers of Musca Law have more than 150 years of combined professional experience in criminal defense and injunction matters. With Musca Law, you can rest assured that our legal team will utilize all resources to provide you with the best legal representation possible and the best chance of overcoming a permanent Tampa dating violence injunction. To find out how Musca Law can help you, contact our office 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.