Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Vero Beach, Florida
Allegations of domestic violence in Vero Beach should always be taken seriously. However, just like victims of alleged violence deserve to be heard, the individual accused of committing acts of domestic violence deserves to be heard and represented by a superior lawyer. Under Florida law, domestic violence injunctions may be issued by a civil court if a victim of alleged abuse presents sufficient evidence to convince a judge that the allegations are true. As such, domestic violence injunction matters are not criminal proceedings. A person can be subject to a domestic violence injunction without being charged with any crime related to the same conduct. Although, many domestic violence injunction matters are related to parallel criminal investigations.
Facing a domestic violence injunction in Vero Beach requires a person to adjust his or her life to comply with certain court orders for a long period of time. Not only are domestic violence injunctions burdensome, but they can open a door to potential criminal charges. But, with the assistance of a Vero Beach Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer, a person facing a domestic violence injunction has a much better chance of fighting the injunction and reaching a good result.
At Musca Law, our reputable Vero Beach Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers devote their careers to representing the legal rights of accused individuals throughout the state of Florida. With experience handling all criminal matters as well as protective injunction matters, Musca Law has the resources, dedication, and skill to provide excellent legal representation to all clients. Contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057 to find out how our legal team can help you.
Protective Injunctions in Indian River County, Florida
In Florida, victims of alleged abuse or violence can seek five different types of protective injunctions, which are more commonly known as restraining orders or orders of protection. The five types of injunctions include the following:
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions.
While each type of protective injunction pertains to different conduct, the overall process is relatively the same. Before learning about the specifics of domestic violence injunctions, it is first important to understand how the protective injunction process works. The following steps provide a general guideline for what to expect when facing a protective injunction in Vero Beach.
- Step 1 – Seeking a Protective Injunction in Vero Beach, Florida – The Petition
A person who wishes to obtain a protective injunction for him or herself or a minor child under the age of eighteen must do by filing a petition with the court, using a court-approved form. The person filing the petition is known as the “petitioner,” and the person who is the subject of the injunction is known as the “respondent.” The statements made in the petition are done so under oath. Therefore, the petitioner is under penalty of perjury, which is a crime.
- Step 2 – Court Review of Petition and Supporting Facts and Initial Decision
Protective injunctions are considered urgent matters as a person’s safety may be at risk. As such, a judge promptly reviews all petitions seeking protective injunctions. The judge will determine whether the petitioner has satisfied the legal requirements to obtain the protective injunction per Florida law. If the judge grants the protective injunction, the injunction will be temporary, lasting no more than fifteen days, at which time there will be a hearing to address the matter.
- Step 3 – Service of the Protective Injunction by the Indian River County Sheriff’s Department
After a court has issued a temporary protective injunction and scheduled a hearing, the petition, injunction, and hearing information are served on the respondent by the Indian River County Sheriff’s Department. The respondent is required to adhere to the requirements of the temporary injunction and appear at the hearing fifteen days later.
- Step 4 – Speak with a Vero Beach Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer
Fifteen days is a very short timeframe to prepare a defense to present in court and fight a protective injunction. Therefore, a person served with a protective injunction should immediately contact a Vero Beach Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer. When legal rights are on the line, there is no time to waste. A lawyer can file a motion with the court to postpone/continue the hearing to a later date, such as thirty days, rather than fifteen days, from the date the temporary injunction is issued by the court. By postponing/continuing the hearing date, the respondent and his or her Vero Beach Protective Injunction Defense Lawyer can review the petition to determine what legal defenses are available and what the best strategy is for fighting the injunction in court. Having a lawyer with the required experience provides the respondent with a better chance of reaching a fair outcome.
- Step 5 – Appearance in Court at the Vero Beach Protective Injunction Hearing
Once the hearing date arrives, both parties must appear to present their arguments and evidence for why a protective injunction should or should not be issued. While many individuals appear in court alone without the representation of a lawyer, such a choice can reduce the chance that a respondent can successfully fight an injunction. A lawyer will know what legal defenses and arguments to raise in court. Both parties can present physical evidence, electronic communications (text messages, emails, social media postings, and social media direct messaging, among others), photographs, videos, and witness testimony at the hearing, among other forms of evidence.
- Step 6 – The Judge’s Decision After the Hearing
After the hearing, the judge will issue a decision to either deny the requested injunction or grant the injunction. If granted, the respondent must comply with all portions of the injunction, which is a civil court order. The injunction will last for a certain period of time, which will be determined based on the nature and severity of the case. As such, some injunctions may last longer than others. For example, some injunctions may last ninety days, while others last six months or longer.
Domestic Violence Laws in Vero Beach, Florida
Allegations of domestic violence can lead to both criminal charges and a domestic violence injunction. However, to obtain a domestic violence injunction, the alleged conduct at issue must meet the definition of “domestic violence” under Florida Law. Per Florida Statute § 741.28, domestic violence is defined 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 members by another family or household matter.”
Family or household members are defined as “spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as a family or who have resided together in the past as a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.” Most domestic violence cases involve individuals who currently reside together but in some cases, the victim and alleged abuser may not reside together (such as in the case of a child who is the victim of alleged domestic violence and the person accused of such violence is a parent that does not live with the child).
The Requirements to Obtain a Domestic Violence Injunction in Vero Beach, Florida
To obtain a domestic violence injunction in Vero Beach, the petitioner must meet all statutory requirements when seeking the injunction. Failure to meet one requirement may be grounds for denial of the injunction. Under Florida Statute § 741.30, such requirements include the following:
- The petitioner has established that he or she (or a minor child) is a family or household member; and
- (1) the petitioner/minor child is presently the victim of domestic violence; or
- (2) the petitioner reasonably believes that he or she (or the minor child) will imminently become a victim of domestic violence.
Because domestic violence injunctions are civil proceedings, a petitioner does not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that the respondent is guilty of committing acts of domestic violence. A judge makes the final decision to issue the injunction, which will severely limit the respondent’s legal rights.
What Happens if I Lose in Court?
If a court decides to issue a domestic violence injunction, the respondent must adjust his or her life to ensure all requirements of the injunction are being satisfied. Some injunctions can last longer than others. Examples of requirements identified in a domestic violence injunction include, among others, the following, which will vary from case to case:
- Agreeing to avoid contact with the petitioner (or petitioner’s minor child);
- Restrictions on visitation rights if the victim of alleged domestic violence is a child and the respondent is a parent;
- Relinquishment of all firearms and ammunition for the duration of the domestic violence injunction;
- Undergoing a mental health evaluation, at the respondent’s expenses; and
- Participation in counseling and/or educational courses.
Additional consequences aside from the strict requirements identified in the domestic violence injunction include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- The stigma of being deemed a violent person, even if no criminal charges pertaining to the matter have been filed;
- A blemished record that reveals the existence of a domestic violence injunction to the public;
- Harm to relationships;
- Potential job loss; and
- The risk of facing criminal charges if any portion of the domestic violence injunction is violated.
While a skilled Vero Beach Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyer cannot guarantee certain results, having a lawyer handle the matter substantially increases the chances of having a positive result. Given that legal rights are at risk, it is a good idea to work with a lawyer when facing a domestic violence injunction in Vero Beach.
Modifying or Terminating a Domestic Violence Injunction in Vero Beach, Florida
Domestic violence injunctions are court orders that can be modified or terminated; however, sufficient grounds must exist for a court to modify or terminate a domestic violence injunction. Either the petitioner or the respondent can file a motion with the court to modify terms of the domestic violence injunction or terminate the injunction entirely. Because of the serious nature of domestic violence matters, the party seeking to modify or terminate the domestic violence injunction must have a valid reason for seeking the change.
In domestic situations, the petitioner and respondent may make amends, perhaps after the respondent has received counseling and/or treatment. In such cases, a petitioner may willingly wish to terminate a domestic violence injunction. A court will still closely scrutinize any request, regardless of which party is making the request. If a petitioner wishes to extend a domestic violence injunction beyond the expiration date, he or she must notify the court no less than thirty days before the injunction is set to expire. If an extension of the domestic violence injunction is not sought, the injunction will be terminated, and the respondent will no longer be required to comply with the terms of the injunction.
Violating a Domestic Violence Injunction in Vero Beach, Florida
While domestic violence injunctions are civil matters that do not involve juries or jail time, violating a domestic violence injunction can lead to criminal charges. Some respondents may unknowingly violate a domestic violence injunction by being in close proximity to the petitioner (or petitioner’s minor child) in a public place without the intent to do so. No matter how minor the violation, a respondent could be facing jail time and fines for each violation.
Under Florida law, violating a domestic violence injunction for the first time is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. If a respondent is convicted, he or she faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A second violation of a domestic violence injunction is also a first-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, a respondent faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, which is in addition to the jail time and fines associated with the first conviction.
I third violation of a domestic violence injunction under Florida law is considered a third-degree felony. A respondent convicted of a third violation faces up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. A fourth or subsequent violation of a domestic violence injunction is also a third-degree felony, carrying a potential jail sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Felony charges for violating a domestic violence injunction can lead to the permanent diminishment of some legal rights. Being a convicted felon means that a respondent can no longer own or possess a firearm. If serving time in jail, the respondent cannot vote. The long list of consequences associated with domestic violence injunctions can snowball out of control without the help of a superior Vero Beach Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer. With the legal representation of a lawyer, respondents can have faith that a professional with experience is taking all steps to protect legal rights.
Why You Need a Lawyer Who Handles Tough Criminal Cases
Many excellent lawyers can represent a petitioner or respondent in a protective injunction proceeding, regardless of whether those lawyers have experience handling criminal matters. When facing serious allegations of domestic violence, a respondent needs to find a Vero Beach Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer who also handles serious domestic violence criminal cases. Having a lawyer without criminal law experience handle an injunction matter can be risky. A thorough understanding of criminal law is essential to adequately represent and protect a respondent’s rights at a domestic violence injunction hearing.
Many respondents who either choose to proceed alone or find a lawyer who is less experienced do not achieve a favorable result. In such cases, respondents are exposed to the harsh penalties of facing a court-ordered injunction as well as potential criminal charges for violating the injunction. The risk of losing rights at the expense of choosing the wrong lawyer or no lawyer at all is simply too great. Domestic violence injunctions dictate a person’s way of life for quite a long period of time. A lawyer who represents clients facing decades in jail for felony domestic violence charges will have a thorough understanding of what is at stake in a domestic violence injunction matter.
Contact the Vero Beach Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today!
Domestic violence injunctions are serious legal matters that require the attention of highly experienced Vero Beach Defense Lawyers. If you have been served with a domestic violence injunction, you have very little time to appear in court and should seek the advice of a lawyer as soon as possible. The Vero Beach Domestic Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers of Musca Law have extensive experience handling protective injunction matters and all criminal matters ranging from minor to very serious. To find out how Musca law can help you with your legal matter, contact our office today by calling (888) 484-5057. Our lawyers are available 24/7 to provide you with the information you need to protect your rights.