Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Tampa, Florida
Domestic violence is a serious offense in Florida, and the state allows for something called an injunction to protect its victims. Notwithstanding, it is not uncommon for allegations of domestic violence to be false or exaggerated such that it causes great harm to the person accused and his or her family.
At Musca Law, we defend individuals facing domestic violence allegations in Tampa, Florida, and if you have been accused of domestic violence, we can help you to fight for your legal rights and interests. Contact us today at (888) 484-5057 to learn more about your legal options and how we can make a difference for you.
Injunctions Against Violence in Tampa
Injunctions against domestic violence in Tampa are also known as protective orders or restraining orders in Florida. There are five types of injunctions against violence in Florida, all of which are for the purpose of prohibiting threatening contact and protecting people from current and future harm. The five forms of injunctions in Florida are (i) domestic violence injunctions; (ii) dating violence injunctions; (iii) sexual violence injunctions; (iv) stalking injunctions; and (v) repeat violence injunctions.
Each of the above types of injunctions has their own statutory criteria and involves a certain set of circumstances. However, they all share certain commonalities. Specifically, the person seeking the injunction is known as the “petitioner” and the individual being sought protection against is the “respondent.” The petitioner files what is called a petition, which provides a summary of the facts and allegations surrounding the domestic violence claim. Once the petition is filed, the court reviews it and decides whether to issue a temporary injunction. This is intended to safeguard the petitioner until the date of the final hearing on the matter.
At this time, the court will also set a hearing date for the case, and soon thereafter, the respondent will be served with a copy of the petition and a notice of the hearing. Both parties are present at the hearing where the court determines if a final injunction against the respondent is warranted.
Florida’s Definition of ‘Domestic Violence’
Under Florida Statute § 741.28 defines “domestic violence” as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”
“Family or household member” means “spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.” With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
Obtaining a Tampa Domestic Violence Injunction
Florida law imposes certain requirements before a person can obtain a domestic violence injunction in Tampa. Under Florida Statutes § 741.30, a domestic violence injunction can be issued if the following is shown:
- The petitioner is a household member or family member of the respondent; and
- The petitioner is a domestic violence victim; or
- The petitioner has a reasonable belief that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a domestic violence victim.
The law does not require the petitioner to be recently married or married to the respondent in order to seek a domestic violence injunction. Moreover, it also does not require the respondent to share a home with the petitioner for a domestic violence injunction to apply. Oftentimes, an injunction against domestic violence involves spouses, although the law provides that this is not a legal requirement. The law also does not require for there to be a pending criminal case or other legal action between the respondent and the petitioner. However, if there is a pending case, the petitioner must provide this detail in the petition.
The Domestic Violence Injunction Process in Tampa
A domestic violence injunction is a civil law matter, even though it is a criminal action if it is violated. There are several steps when pursuing a Tampa domestic violence injunction, which are as follows:
- The petition. The domestic violence injunction process commences with the filing of a Petition for Injunction Against Domestic Violence, which is submitted to the court by the petitioner. This is a sworn document, which means that the petitioner must sign it in the presence of a notary or Clerk of the Court. The petitioner can provide supporting documentation with the petition, however, this is not a legal requirement.
- Temporary injunction. Once the court receives the petitioner’s filings, it will review it all and then render a determination as to whether to issue a temporary injunction. This is an order that prevents domestic violence or threats of domestic violence until a final order is issued in a case.
- Hearing. At the time the court decides whether or not to issue a temporary injunction, the court will also schedule a hearing, which will be set no more than fifteen days from the date the petition is filed.
- Service of process. Before the hearing date, the respondent is served with process, which is typically done by the county sheriff’s office. In Tampa, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will serve the respondent, which includes notice of the hearing date, a copy of the petition, and a copy of any temporary injunction, if ordered by the court.
- Final hearing. The matter is adjudicated by the final hearing in the matter, where both parties can submit evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine each other’s witnesses. It is vital at this stage for the respondent to have a strong defense, as this is an opportunity for the court to hear both sides of the case.
- Court order. After the hearing, the court decides whether or not to issue a permanent injunction. If the court denies the permanent injunction, it will dissolve the temporary injunction, if in effect.
Keep in mind that each case is dependent upon the underlying facts and circumstances. For example, the parties may pursue various motions for the court to consider prior to the hearing date.
The Modification of a Domestic Violence Injunction in Tampa
Although a domestic violence injunction is immediately effective, it can be dissolved or amended by either party. Sometimes, the parties agree to the proposed modification, while other times, they may be in opposition thereto. Even if the parties are in accord, the court ultimately decides whether to approve the changes. The party who is looking to modify or dissolve the injunction must establish to the court that it is no longer warranted in their case.
Defenses that are Available in Tampa Domestic Violence Injunction Cases
When facing the prospects of a domestic violence injunction, it is vital that the respondent hire competent legal counsel to develop the strongest defense in his or her case, as an injunction can have serious repercussions. Specifically, if the court orders a final injunction, the respondent may be prohibited from being in the presence of his or her children, owning firearms/ammunition, living in a certain neighborhood, and going to a number of different places. The respondent may also face issues in finding gainful employment and a suitable housing arrangement.
As such, it is critical for the respondent to attack the prospective injunction and attempt to defeat it. Two defenses that are often raised in a domestic violence injunction case in Tampa are as follows:
- The respondent did not commit an act of domestic violence; and
- The respondent did not engage in behavior to cause the petitioner to have an imminent fear of becoming a victim of domestic violence.
Violating a Hillsborough County Domestic Violence Injunction
If the conclusion of the case involves a final injunction order, it is crucial that the respondent is fully knowledgeable as to its requirements and follows them to the letter. Any departure from the terms of the injunction can be deemed a violation, which is associated with both criminal and civil penalties.
While the terms of a domestic violence injunction are dependent upon the facts of each case, the following will constitute violations of an injunction:
- Contacting the petitioner in a manner that is disallowed by the injunction.
- Failing to move out of a shared dwelling.
- Failing to surrender ammunition and firearms.
- Threatening the petitioner or his or her friends, family members, or household pets.
- Harassing the petitioner.
- Stalking the petitioner.
- Engaging in acts of violence against the petitioner.
If you are being accused of violating a domestic violence injunction in Tampa, contact Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057 to launch the strongest defense possible in your case.
Defenses to a Violation of a Tampa Domestic Violence Injunction
If a person is being criminally charged with violating a domestic violence injunction, he or she can raise several defenses, all of which are contingent upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Some defenses to a domestic violence injunction violation charge in Tampa may be as follows:
- The alleged contact was not intentional. Meaning, the respondent did not intend to come into contact with the petitioner (e.g., the respondent unknowingly happened to be at the same store as the petitioner).
- The respondent was not given proper notice of the injunction.
- The respondent did not comprehend the terms of the injunction.
- The terms of the injunction conflict with the terms of another order. This may occur in a situation where the respondent is included in a child custody order where contact with the petitioner is inevitable.
Penalties for Violating a Tampa Domestic Violence Injunction Order
It is a crime to violate a domestic violence injunction in Tampa, the charges of which range from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony (depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case as well as the number of previous violations, if applicable).
- First offense. It is a first-degree misdemeanor for a first violation of a domestic violence injunction, the penalties of which include a one-year prison term and a monetary fine of $1,000.
- Second offense. It is also a first-degree misdemeanor to violate a domestic violence injunction for a second time. However, this can be elevated to a felony in certain circumstances.
- Third offense. It is a third-degree felony to violate a domestic violence injunction for a third time, which includes a five-year prison term and a monetary fine of $5,000.
- Four or more offenses. Each subsequent violation is charged as a third-degree felony.
Since the violation of a domestic violence injunction is associated with severe consequences, it is critical for the respondent to adhere to its terms and seek to change the order through competent counsel, rather than failing to comply.
FAQs About Tampa Domestic Violence Injunctions
When we meet with prospective clients, they often ask a number of the same questions. As such, we have put together several common questions and the answers below to help you to learn more about your legal rights and options. This is not meant to substitute the advice of a competent Florida criminal defense attorney at Musca Law. Don’t wait - contact us today at (888) 484-5057.
I was served with a petition for a domestic violence injunction. What do I do now?
If you are in receipt of notice of a pending action for a domestic violence injunction in Tampa, you may have also received notice of a hearing that has been set in your case. You may also be in receipt of a temporary injunction order along with an order to vacate your home, if it is shared with the petitioner. If this is the case, you MUST comply with the order. If you have questions, contact Musca Law now to review the terms of these orders to make sure that you do not violate them, as there may be serious consequences if you do. Also, it is critical for you to work with a skilled Florida domestic violence injunction defense attorney to help you to develop a strong defense that you can present at the final injunction hearing, which gives you the chance to present your side of the story to the court.
If I don’t respond to the petition, what will happen?
If you fail to challenge the petition, meaning that you do not submit a formal response thereto and be present at the hearing, the court will issue an order pursuant only to the information provided by the petitioner. In this situation, the court will likely side with the petitioner and grant an injunction order against you. An injunction order should never be ignored, as it should always be taken seriously.
What are the effects of a Tampa domestic violence injunction?
If the court issues a final injunction against you, if could affect your life in several ways, as follows:
- You will be barred from contact with the petitioner.
- You could lose custody of your child(ren).
- You will be barred from owning a firearm and ammunition.
- You will be barred from being in certain places.
- You will need to vacate your home if it is shared with the petitioner.
- You may experience difficulty in finding suitable housing and gainful employment, as well as trouble securing a bank loan.
- Alienation from coworkers, family, and friends.
- Social stigma.
For what period of time do I need to comply with the order?
The domestic violence injunction should provide the duration of the order. You MUST comply with the order for the time period specified therein. In some instances, the injunction will not expire and must be altered through filing a motion with the court.
What will happen if I am deemed in violation of the order for a domestic violence injunction?
It is a crime ranging from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony if you violate the terms of the injunction. You could also face several civil penalties such as a finding of contempt and hefty monetary fines.
Contact Musca Law Now to Protect Your Freedom and Livelihood!
Call Musca Law today if you are facing the prospects of a domestic violence injunction in Tampa. Our team of skilled Tampa defense attorneys will provide you with a summary of your legal options and the defense(s) that may apply in your case. Contact us as (888) 484-5057 to schedule your free and completely confidential case consultation. We look forward to making a difference for you!