Injunction and Restraining Order Defense Lawyers in Tampa, Florida
Injunctions, protective injunctions, restraining orders, and protective orders are all terms that are essentially synonymous in Florida. However, slight differences exist between the different types of orders. Overall, injunctions are civil orders that serve the purpose of protecting a person from harm. The type of injunction sought will be dependent upon the underlying alleged conduct. If a person feels that his or her safety is at risk, this person can file a petition in civil court seeking an injunction. This person, called the “Petitioner,” must allege facts that demonstrate to a court that without an injunction, the petitioner will be at risk of suffering harm.
The person who is the subject of a petition for an injunction must fight back as quickly as possible to ensure a fair process in court. This person, called the “Respondent,” must prove to a court that the allegations underlying a petition for injunction are without merit, and that issuance of an injunction would unfairly harm and prejudice the respondent. However, to have a fighting chance at showing a court that an injunction should not be granted, the respondent must employ a strong attorney who will advocate for the respondent’s rights in court.
At Musca Law, our nationally-recognized Tampa Criminal Defense and Injunction Defense Lawyers routinely assist clients in fighting a variety of injunctions in the Tampa area as well as throughout the entire state of Florida. Regardless of the underlying alleged conduct, a person facing an injunction must act quickly to preserve his or her rights. While injunctions are not criminal matters, and therefore, a judge is not going to decide whether a respondent has committed a crime, being the subject of an injunction can feel like a criminal matter. If you are facing any type of injunction in Tampa, you should consider speaking with Musca Law to find out how our legal team can protect your rights. Contact our office 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.
The First Step Following the Issuance of an Injunction in Tampa – Restraining the Respondent
Under Florida law, any person can file a petition seeking an injunction. However, anyone seeking an injunction must file a petition using a court-approved form. The form provides options for the type of injunction being sought. The form also requests that the petitioner provide details of the underlying conduct to demonstrate to a judge that the petitioner will not be safe without the injunction.
Because the overall goal of injunctions in Florida is to protect a person from imminent harm, which could result in injury or death, judges often (but not always) grant an injunction on a temporary basis. This temporary injunction effectively “restrains” the respondent for at least fifteen (15) days until a hearing can determine the merits of the petition and whether sufficient facts exist to warrant the issuance of a permanent injunction. A person facing an injunction will need to be present at the hearing to fight a permanent injunction, and that person should appear alongside a highly qualified attorney.
Understanding the Different Types of Injunctions in Tampa, Florida
As previously stated, there are numerous types of injunctions that ultimately share the goal of protecting a person from harm. In Tampa, a person seeking an injunction can file a petition seeking one of the following types of injunctions:
- Dating Violence Injunction;
- Domestic Violence Injunction;
- Sexual Violence Injunction;
- Stalking Injunction; and
- Repeat Violence Injunctions.
In some cases, a petitioner may allege wrongdoing that falls under more than one type of injunction. Regardless of which type of injunction is being sought in Tampa, the result will be the same – to restrain the respondent from having contact with the petitioner.
Domestic Violence injunctions in Tampa
Under Florida law, a person can seek a domestic violence injunction to stop alleged violent behavior from continuing. To qualify as “domestic violence,” a petitioner must prove that a domestic relationship existed. A domestic relationship is one that involves two individuals living in the same household or individuals who share a child. In Florida, domestic violence involves a variety of conduct, including, among others, battery, assault, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. Additionally, mere threats to commit battery, assault, kidnapping, or false imprisonment may be enough for a court to issue a domestic violence injunction in Tampa.
Dating Violence Injunctions in Tampa
Dating violence is like domestic violence except that there is no requirement that the parties either live together and/or share a child. Rather, dating violence applies to individuals in an intimate or romantic relationship. However, the alleged underlying conduct is typically the same as that of domestic violence. If a romantic relationship has ended at the time a person files a petition seeking a dating violence injunction in Tampa, a judge can still issue the injunction if the romantic/dating relationship lasted for at least six (6) months before the time the petition for the injunction is filed.
Stalking Injunctions in Tampa
Under Florida law, Statute Section 784.048(2), a person may face stalking charges if probable cause exists that he or she “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.” A person found guilty of stalking faces a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a $1,000 fine and possible jail time of up to one year. As previously stated, a person does not need to be facing criminal charges to become the subject of an injunction. As such, a person who believes he or she is being stalked can seek a stalking injunction in Tampa regardless of whether a criminal matter is pending against the respondent.
Repeat Violence Injunctions in Tampa
Repeat violence is when a person allegedly commits two or more acts of violence or stalking. A person who is the victim of such violence can seek a repeat violence injunction in Tampa. A judge may grant the injunction, at least on a temporary basis, if one of the acts of violence or stalking occurred within six (6) months before the date a petition for repeat violence injunction is filed.
Sexual Violence Injunction in Tampa
Sexual violence includes unwelcome sexual acts, attempted unwelcome sexual acts, and lewdness against a child. In many cases, sexual violence injunctions are sought when an open criminal matter is pending concerning the same conduct. However, even if no criminal matter is pending, a victim can seek a sexual violence injunction to prevent contact with the alleged perpetrator/respondent.
The Permanent Injunction Hearing in Tampa – Why You Need an Attorney
After a person files a petition seeking an injunction in Tampa, the judge will quickly decide to either grant the petition on a temporary basis or deny the petition outright from the beginning. While a petitioner does not need to fully prove his or her case at the time a petition for an injunction is filed, a judge will want to hear the facts underlying the allegations. If the judge does not believe there is any merit to the allegations, he or she may quickly dismiss the matter. However, judges tend to err on the side of caution to protect individuals from physical harm. As such, many petitions seeking injunctions in Tampa are granted temporarily until the respondent can be present in court to defend his or her case alongside an attorney.
In Tampa, an injunction hearing will be set for fifteen (15) days after the temporary injunction is entered by the court. Once the injunction is entered, the respondent will be served with the injunction. Because of the serious nature of an injunction, anyone who is served with an injunction should immediately contact a Tampa Injunction Defense Lawyer. Fifteen days is not a lot of time to prepare a case and fight a permanent injunction. A respondent who appears in court at the injunction hearing without an attorney runs the risk of losing and becoming the subject of a permanent injunction. With the right attorney, a respondent can adequately attack the allegations spelled out in the petition for injunction and help to convince a judge that a permanent injunction is not warranted.
The Burdens of Being the Subject of a Permanent Injunction in Tampa, Florida
In the unfortunate event that a judge enters a permanent injunction against a respondent, the respondent will have to strictly comply with all portions of the injunction. The first requirement is to, of course, steer clear of the petitioner. Next, the respondent may be required to hand over firearms and ammunition during the pendency of the injunction period, something that compromises a person’s second amendment rights. A judge may also require a respondent to undergo a mental health evaluation or counseling, or any other measures the judge believes are necessary to fulfill the petitioner’s interests. While injunctions can be “permanent,” they may be revoked or modified by a judge upon motion by either a petitioner or a respondent (or both) for good cause shown.
Additionally, injunctions are a matter of public record. Civil case information is available through public records searches or background checks, something many people may not realize. Just like a divorce matter or bankruptcy matter would be available to the public, injunctions entered in a Tampa court – which are civil orders – are also available for public viewing. Such a harsh consequence does not seem to fit the conduct in question if such conduct has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury. After all, if a person is facing criminal charges, a conviction will not appear on his or her record unless he or she pleads guilty or is found guilty by a jury. Being branded as a violent person in the civil context can be just as damaging as any criminal conviction.
While an injunction does not assert that the underlying allegations have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, many people who read an injunction order will believe every word. A person could suffer great harm to his or her reputation, may lose his or her job, and may lose the support of friends and family members who only believe what is stated within the confines of an injunction order.
Balancing the needs to protect victims of violence as well as the reputation and well-being of accused individuals is tricky in Tampa. Judges, on the one hand, want to ensure the safety of victims, but on the other hand, do not want an innocent person to be harmed because of false allegations. Judges may choose to side with a petitioner when a respondent has not presented a clear case to defend himself or herself. A judge may not necessarily believe the allegations are true, but if a respondent cannot adequately refute the allegations, a judge may be left with no choice but to make a temporary injunction permanent.
As such, it is critical that any person facing a permanent injunction understands (1) the severity of a permanent injunction, and (2) how the right attorney can substantially help a person’s chances of successfully fighting a permanent injunction. Hiring an attorney does cost money, but the cost of superior legal representation is well worth it when the alternative consequences are, among others, a tarnished reputation, the threat of future criminal liability, infringement on second amendment rights, and the need to undergo a mental evaluation or counseling ordered by a judge. Unfortunately, many people will not understand how serious an injunction matter is until they find themselves in this situation.
The Harsh Consequences of Violating a Tampa Injunction – What You Should Know
Whether the injunction issued by a Tampa judge is for domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence, stalking, or sexual violence, a respondent who violates the injunction – in any way – faces criminal penalties. Even without the threat of criminal penalties, injunctions severely limit a person’s legal rights as identified above. If a respondent comes into close contact with a petitioner in violation of a Tampa injunction, that respondent may face criminal charges, which could be minor or very serious depending on what portion of the injunction was violated. If a violation is willful, a respondent may face felony criminal charges, which could lead to substantial jail time if convicted. As such, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is for respondents to find the best attorney possible for the job. When legal rights are on the line, there is no room for compromising with an inexperienced or unqualified attorney.
What a Hillsborough Injunction Defense Lawyer Can Do for You
The best way to approach an injunction matter is to treat it like a criminal matter. If you have been served with a temporary injunction and have a court date scheduled, you should assume that your legal rights are on the line and that if you do not appear with strong legal representation, you are likely to become the subject of a permanent injunction that is publicly available for years to come. Once you have contacted an experienced Tampa Injunction Defense Lawyer, your lawyer will immediately obtain all necessary documents and statements pertaining to the petition for an injunction. Your lawyer will then ask you extensive questions to build your defense and help you identify any evidence that you have – such as emails, telephone conversations, social media messages/postings, and text messages – that may help to refute or explain a petition’s underlying allegations.
A qualified and reputable attorney in Tampa will know what to expect from judges who handle injunction matters. Knowing how a judge typically rules on a given matter is crucial to shaping a defense. While all judges must follow Florida law when reaching decisions, they often have broad discretion to make decisions they believe are right. Two judges may reach two different conclusions on the same matter. Therefore, the stronger and more knowledgeable your attorney is not only on the subject matter at hand but also on how a judge is likely to act, the better chance you have of fighting a permanent injunction.
Many people feel strongly that they are their own best advocate in court. This may be true in some cases, but when facing either a criminal charge or a potentially harsh injunction, your best advocate is a highly qualified attorney who has handled not only serious injunction matters but also serious crimes. A solid understanding of criminal law is critical to the successful representation of an injunction matter. Without question, you need to work with an attorney who has proven results in Tampa and throughout the state of Florida.
Protect Your Rights – Contact the Tampa Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
Injunctions can lead to permanent and devastating consequences for a person in Tampa, Florida. While the injunction process is a civil matter, the aftermath of an injunction can feel much like a criminal matter. If you have been served with a temporary injunction, you must act quickly to speak with a Tampa Injunction Defense Lawyer. At Musca Law, our award-winning Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyers have successfully helped other clients overcome the injunction process. To find out how Musca Law may be able to help you or a loved one, contact our office today by calling (888) 484-5057. We are available 24/7 to provide you with the guidance and legal advice you need to move forward.