Sexual Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Tampa, Florida
Musca Law’s Florida criminal defense attorneys know that sexual violence injunctions are complicated and difficult matters. Facing a sexual violence injunction in Tampa, Florida, can be overwhelming and frightening. The attorneys at Musca Law know what it takes to defend clients in injunction cases and how to have existing injunctions against our clients dissolved or modified. If you are facing a petition for an injunction for sexual violence in Tampa, contact us today at (888) 484-5057. We offer free consultations with our skilled Tampa criminal defense attorneys.
Injunctions Against Sexual Violence in Hillsborough County, Florida
Under Florida law, victims of sexual violence who are facing the repeated and imminent threat of an act or acts of violence can file for an injunction, which will offer protection from the alleged abuser. Such injunctions are often known as restraining orders or orders of protection. Courts across Florida will file these injunctions when they believe it is necessary to safeguard victims from the following five forms of violence:
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Stalking Injunctions; and
- Sexual Violence Injunctions.
A petitioner who is requesting that the court grant relief in the form of any of the above-listed types of injunctions will begin the process by filing documentation that alleges the threat of violence or that violence has been committed against him or her. In cases where the court determines there is enough evidence to grant the injunction, the respondent will be prohibited from certain actions. In most instances, the respondent will not be permitted to have any contact with the petitioner or any contact that involves the petitioner.
Main Components of Domestic Violence Injunctions in Tampa, Florida
Each time a petitioner files for an injunction for sexual violence in Florida, the facts of the case will be unique. However, there are certain components that are common in most of these claims. The following are aspects of an injunction that are found in most cases:
- Title of the Parties. All injunctions are filed by a person who is seeking relief from the court. This individual is referred to as the “petitioner” in the case. The person against whom the petitioner seeks relief and the individual who is allegedly the abuser will be referred to as the “respondent.”
- Notarizing the Petition. A petition must be signed by the petitioner in front of a notary or the Clerk of the Court. In this way, the document becomes a sworn statement.
- Temporary Injunctions. Because of the nature of these petitions, the court will often issue a temporary injunction, which becomes effective immediately, even before the court has been able to make a final decision. This temporary injunction will be based on the allegations made in the petition.
- Service of process. Service is used to notify the respondent of the allegations and petition that has been filed against him or her. In most situations, the County Sherriff’s Office will be serving the documents. For cases filed in Tampa, this means that the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Officer will be responsible for providing the respondent with the relevant documents, including the petition, a temporary injunction if one has been entered, and the notice of the date on which the case will be heard by the court.
- Hearing. Typically, about fifteen days after the petition is filed, the court will hear the case. During the hearing, both the petitioner and the respondent will have an opportunity to present facts supporting their request for the court to either grant or deny the entry of a permanent injunction.
- Presenting Evidence. At the hearing for any of the listed types of injunctions, both the respondent and the petitioner may present evidence for the court’s consideration. Evidence can be in the form of witnesses, printouts of texts, messages, emails, and telephone records.
- The court’s decision. Pursuant to the presentation of all evidence in support of or against the entry of any of the types of injunctions, the court will decide whether or not to enter the permanent injunction against the respondent. When the court determines that the injunction is warranted, the permanent injunction will become effective immediately. If the court denies the petitioner’s request for the injunction, then any temporary injunction currently in place will no longer be in effect.
- Violating an Injunction. Injunctions are serious and should be treated as such by the respondent. The consequences for violating the terms of an injunction include hefty monetary fines, jail time, and findings of contempt.
Defining ‘Sexual Violence’ in Tampa, Florida
- "violence” is defined under Florida Statute § 784.046, as follows:
- Enticing or luring a child;
- Sexual battery;
- Enticing or luring a child;
- Sexual performance by a child;
- Lewd, lascivious acts involving a child under age 16;
- Lewd, luscious acts performed in front of a child under age 16; or
- Forcible felonies that involve sexual acts or attempted sexual acts;
Florida statutes provide that a person who has committed and of the above actions has committed an act of sexual violence even if no charges were filed in relation to the incident, or if such charges are reduced or ultimately dropped.
What is Needed to File for a Sexual Violence Injunction in Tampa, Florida?
Petitioners seeking sexual violence injunctions in Tampa must demonstrate that:
- He or she has been the victim of sexual violence; OR
- He or she is the parent or guardian of a child who has experienced sexual violence; AND
- He or she has contacted law enforcement about the alleged acts of sexual violence; AND
- He or she is cooperating with criminal proceedings that might be initiated in connection with the alleged acts of sexual violence.
In cases where the respondent to the injunction is imprisoned on a sexual violence related matter, the petitioner may petition the court for an injunction when the convicted abused is scheduled to be released from prison within 90 days. In order for the petitioner to be able to file against a respondent who is in prison, the petitioner must be serving time in prison in relation to abuses carried out against the petitioner.
The Process of a Sexual Violence Petition in Tampa
The filing of a Petition for Protection Against Sexual Violence is the first step in the injunction process. This step will involve the petitioner filing the petition plus any supporting documentation he or she has to support the petition with the court.
Next, the court must determine based on a review of all documents filed whether or not to enter a temporary injunction. The respondent will not have any input in the determining of whether a temporary injunction is to be issued. Keep in mind that in cases where a temporary injunction is entered against the respondent, the respondent must immediately discontinue any contact with the petitioner. This can be a complicated matter if the two parties share a dwelling.
Around fourteen days after the filing of the petition, the petitioner and the respondent will have an opportunity to present their respective evidence to the court. The court will then have to decide whether to issue the permanent injunction. If an injunction is granted, the respondent must comply with its terms, which go into effect immediately. Failing to comply with the terms will lead to criminal and civil penalties.
Sexual Violence Injunction: How to Modify Existing Injunctions
A permanent injunction can be modified at any time after its issuance in Tampa, Florida. Either or both of the parties have the ability to petition to the court to modify or completely dissolve the injunction. Sometimes, the parties may agree that changing or dissolving the order is warranted. However, most of the time, one of the parties will seek the change, and the other will oppose any modification or lifting of the injunction. The individual seeking a modification of the injunction is responsible for demonstrating to the court the reason or reasons that some or all of the terms are no longer necessary.
Sexual Violence Injunction Violations in Tampa
In cases where a final sexual violence injunction has been entered against a respondent and that respondent fails to adhere to the terms stated in the injunction, a court could find that individual is in violation of the court order. The following types of behaviors are ways that respondents in Tampa often violate injunctions:
- Engaging in any type of contact with the petitioner by any way and in any manner;
- Being too close to (often within 500 feet of) the petitioner’s home;
- Failing to stay the appropriate distance from the petitioner’s school or workplace;
- Violating firearm-related terms of an injunction by keeping or obtaining ammunition or firearms (sexual violence injunctions often contain requirements that the respondent forfeit and refrain from purchasing any guns and ammunition);
- Threatening the petitioner;
- Committing violence of any kind against the petitioner.
The authority to impose certain penalties upon the respondent should he or she violate its terms of the injunction is held by the court, which entered the permanent injunction. This includes imposing monetary fines, jail time, or a finding that the respondent is in contempt of court. Pursuant to Florida law, a person who violates a sexual violence injunction will face charges for committing a first-degree misdemeanor. This crime is punishable by a fine of at most $1,000 and a maximum prison term of one year.
When a person commits multiple violations of a sexual violence injunction, the results are that charges will increase, and the respondent may be found guilty of a felony. Once a person violates the terms twice or three times, the crime is upgraded to a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies are associated with $5,000 fines and carry a maximum prison term of five years.
Defending Against a Petition for an Injunction for Sexual Violence in Tampa
If you are facing an injunction for sexual violence in Tampa, we urge you to hire experienced counsel. While there is no legal requirement for a person to have legal representation when defending one of these cases, your chances of defeating the injunction are greatly improved if you are being represented by a Florida criminal defense attorney.
When defending your case, your lawyer will often request that the hearing for the permanent injunction be continued (this means they will want an extension date). Delays in service are common, and as a result, the time allotted for preparing a strong defense against the charges will not be sufficient. Every respondent has the legal right to defend against the allegations. As such, your attorney will likely request a later hearing date in order to allow enough time to build your defense case.
Your attorney will represent you at the actual hearing. As your legal representative and advocate, your lawyer will work to demonstrate that the injunction is unwarranted. In the course of the hearing, your lawyer will cross-examine witnesses that the petitioner calls to support his or her case and may even call witnesses to testify on your behalf. Your attorney may use additional evidence to demonstrate that:
- You never committed any acts of sexual violence against the petitioner.
- The petitioner is not facing any risk of sexual violence from you.
- The petitioner has not made any reports of sexual violence with law enforcement or other authorities.
- The petitioner has failed to cooperate with any criminal proceedings.
Each case is different, and therefore, the facts of your individual sexual violence injunction case will determine the best course of action for defending against the allegations. Call Musca Law today and to speak with an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney about the best strategy for your defense.
Sexual Violence Injunctions in Tampa: FAQs
Facing a sexual violence injunction in Tampa is a confusing and frightening situation. Our clients often approach us with many questions about the process and their defense. The following questions are some of the most commonly asked by our prospective clients. If you are facing a sexual violence injunction in Tampa, and you have additional questions or require legal representation, contact our attorneys today.
A sexual violence injunction was filed against me in Tampa, what happens now?
If someone filed an injunction for sexual violence against you in Tampa, that individual must have filed the petition and supporting evidence with the court. If the petition and evidence present enough to convince the court of the need for an injunction, then a temporary injunction will be entered, and you will be served with that injunction, a notice of hearing and a copy of the order that granted the temporary injunction against you. If the court entered a temporary injunction against you, it is critical that you adhere to ALL terms stated in the document. Make a note of the hearing date as you will need to be present for that hearing. The hearing is your opportunity to defend against the petition and the petitioner’s allegations.
What if I do not appear at the hearing to challenge the injunction?
In the event that you fail to appear for the hearing, the petitioner will have an opportunity to present all of his or her evidence against you without any challenges. The court will then make its decision on that evidence alone. In many cases, the court will grant such an injunction as you have not defended against the allegations, and they will, therefore, be the only evidence upon which the court is making its determination. Respondents should always take these cases very seriously, as a sexual violence injunction in Tampa can have severe legal repercussions. It is vital that the respondent hire competent counsel and work to build the strongest possible defense against the allegations.
An injunction was issued against me, now what should I do?
When an injunction has been filed against you, the first thing to do is learn the terms of that injunction and ensure that you understand all of them. Understanding the terms is crucial to make sure that you do not inadvertently violate those terms and place yourself at risk of additional consequences. Most cases will have terms stating that the respondent must vacate any shared dwelling, and surrender firearms and ammunition that are in his or her possession. The petition will bar the respondent from contacting the petitioner and will prevent the respondent from coming too close to certain locations where the petitioner resides, works, or attends school. Specific terms for an injunction vary depending on the facts of the case. Those terms will be detailed in the order.
What is the duration of the injunction?
The duration for which the injunction remains active will be stated in the injunction’s terms. The terms can be for a period of time, or they can remain in effect indefinitely. It is possible to request that the duration be altered.
What are the consequences of failing to follow the terms of a Tampa sexual violence injunction?
Failing to follow the terms of a court-entered injunction in Tampa will result in severe consequences. Even a first-time violation will be considered a first-degree misdemeanor. Depending on the case, the circumstances of the violation, and the number of times that the respondent has violated the injunction, the charges may be upgraded to a third-degree felony. The results of a violation will include monetary fines and possible jail time.
Will the sexual violence injunction filed against me in Tampa be public record?
Yes, if an injunction is entered against you, it will become public information. What this means is that anyone can see that the injunction was entered against you and that the injunction will show up in a background search. This means that a person can find difficulties acquiring a job or a place to live. The severe impact of sexual violence injunctions is why we tell our clients to take these injunctions seriously.
Should I hire an attorney to represent me because of a Tampa sexual violence injunction?
In Florida, there is no legal requirement that you obtain legal counsel when petitioning for or defending against a sexual violence injunction. Still, given the devastating consequences of one of these injunctions, our answer is “yes.” A sexual violence injunction will severely impact your life and can cost you certain freedoms, including your legal right to bear arms. Because these injunctions become public records, you may find long-term consequences, including difficulty being hired or finding housing. The professional, social, financial, and personal complications that can result from these injunctions make it imperative that you take these matters seriously.
The best way to protect yourself against allegations of sexual violence is to hire an experienced attorney.
Call the Attorneys at Musca Law Today! Your freedom and livelihood depend upon it!
If you have been served with a sexual violence injunction, contact Musca Law to discuss your rights and your case with one of our skilled sexual violence defense attorneys. Call a Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer at (888) 484-5057 today for a free consultation.