Repeat Violence Injunction Defense Lawyers in Vero Beach, Florida
An Overview of Vero Beach Repeat Violence Injunctions
Florida law criminalizes various forms of violence against another person. The specific acts of violence may fall under the definition of assault, battery, attempted assault or battery, aggravated assault or battery, or domestic violence. Crimes that involve violence are aggressively prosecuted in Florida because they cause injury and harm to the victims. In an effort to provide further protection to those individuals who are subject to violence, or who appear to be at risk of being victimized, the court will also enter injunctions that place restrictions on the alleged perpetrator of violent acts. These injunctions are not criminal charges, but the consequences on a person’s life are severe and often devastating.
One type of injunction is a repeat violence injunction. People who face a repeat violence injunction must remember that they must refrain from committing acts of violence against the alleged victim, which would be illegal even in the absence of the injunction. However, there are additional consequences of the injunctive order as well. The court will limit the alleged abuser’s movements by prohibiting him or her from going to certain places that are connected to the alleged victim and may also limit individuals with whom the alleged abuser can communicate. Courts may also order a person to undergo counseling and can require that the individual surrender his or her firearms and ammunition, therefore forfeiting their second amendment rights.
Facing a repeat violence injunction is frightening, and it should be taken as a serious threat to a person’s freedom and rights. Sadly, in many cases, alleged victims are really seeking to punish someone and are using the court to carry out their retaliation. Determining the validity of the allegations is the job of the judge, and in many cases, that individual will feel compelled to issue an order because they wish to exercise caution.
If you are facing a repeat violence injunction, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Vero Beach criminal defense attorney. Picking up the phone to contact an attorney is the first step in order to protect yourself.
It is your right to defend yourself against any allegations made against you. Call 888-484-5057 to contact Musca Law today for a consultation with one of our seasoned criminal defense and repeat violence injunction lawyers. We are ready to advocate for you and to fight to protect your rights.
There Are Multiple Types of Protective Injunctions Under Florida Law
Protective injunctions, which some will refer to as restraining orders, are all tools courts use to protect individuals who are or are alleged, victims of abuse, or at risk of becoming a victim of abuse. Under Florida law, there are several different categories of these injunctions and which one the alleged victim will seek depends on the specific allegations. The allegations can lead to protections, including no contact and stay away orders, and can require that the individual surrender his or her firearms and ammunition to law enforcement officers.
For individuals who are subject to the restrictions of a restraining order, a violation of those restrictions will result in severe legal ramifications. A violation of an injunction is a criminal offense and results in jail time, probation, and fines. The offender may also be required to attend counseling and mental health treatment.
In Florida, there are five types of injunctions:
- Repeat violence injunctions;
- Dating violence injunctions;
- Injunctions to prohibit stalking;
- Domestic violence injunctions; and
- Sexual violence injunctions.
Indian River County Repeat Violence Injunctions: The Legal Process
The first step in the process a person must take to obtain a repeat violence injunction in Florida is to file a petition in the Circuit Court. The person who is requesting that the court enter the protective order is referred to as the petitioner. The person against whom the petitioner is requesting the injunction is identified as the respondent.
When filing the petition, the petitioner must swear that he or she is providing information that is true and accurate to the best of his or her knowledge. Providing false information can result in perjury charges against the petitioner.
Once the petition is filed, the judge will review the allegations and then determine whether or not to grant a temporary injunction. Temporary injunctions, which may also be referred to as temporary protective orders, or temporary restraining orders, will go into effect immediately and will last until the date of the hearing at which the judge will have the opportunity to make a final determination.
The court may only maintain a temporary restraining order for a maximum of fifteen days. The hearing must, therefore, be set within that timeframe. The temporary order may place a number of restrictions on the respondent, including prohibiting acts of violence, contact, or communication with the petitioner, and can compel the respondent to surrender any firearms. The temporary order is typically less extensive than a final injunctive order. Once the hearing is completed, if the judge determines the repeat violence injunction is warranted, then he or she may include additional terms in the final order.
The respondent must be served with the terms of the temporary order for the terms of that injunction to go into effect. The service of the order is completed by the Sheriff’s Office or the local Police Department. It is important to note that the judge will consider service completed in cases where the respondent has made attempts to actively avoid being served.
The temporary order may seem unfair to the respondent, who may not have had any knowledge that the petitioner would take such action and has not had an opportunity to defend against the allegations. However, judges typically view these orders as consistent with principles of justice because they are only effective for fifteen days. The period of time in which the temporary order is in place allows the respondent to take actions to protect himself or herself, including hiring an attorney to represent him or her at the hearing. It is important that the respondent use those fifteen days to develop a defense strategy with the help of an experienced attorney. It is also imperative that the respondent follow the terms of the order.
Although judges will, in some rare circumstances, deny a petitioner a temporary injunction, this is not usually the case. Judges are more inclined to err on the side of caution. However, the hearing is the chance for the judge to hear from both parties and to make an informed decision as to whether the permanent order should be entered.
The procedure will be the same in each of the five categories of injunctive orders.
The Final Hearing: Process and the Consequences of a Permanent Repeat Injunction
The attorneys at Musca Law have experience handling repeat violence injunctions in Vero Beach. It is important to enter the hearing knowing that you have a legal advocate who is able to navigate the legal system and develop a strategy for the hearing. Respondents should engage in a consultation with counsel in which he or she explains the circumstances in a frank and honest manner so that the attorney can determine the strongest defense strategy and is best prepared to address the allegations.
Gaining an understanding of the law as it pertains to repeat violence injunctions in Florida will help the respondent engage in a productive discussion about the process and the hearing.
Learning the legal definition of the term “violence” is a good place to start. Pursuant to Florida Statute §784.046(1)(a), “violence” includes assaultive behavior, battery, aggravated assaults, sexual assault, sexual battery, aggravated battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, stalking, and aggravated stalking, along with other criminal offenses that might result in a physical injury or death of another.
Repeat violence is defined under §784.056(b) as two or more acts of violence of stalking, which occurred within the previous six month period. The section also states that the petitioner may include any actions defined as violent that were carried out against his or her immediate family members within the relevant time frame.
Petitioners must have what is termed “standing” to file a petition. Individuals with standing include the alleged victim and the parent or guardian of a minor who is allegedly the victim of repeat violence. The petition must indicate that the petitioner fears that he or she will be victimized by violent acts carried out by the respondent. If such qualifications are not met, then the judge must deny the petition.
It is important to understand that petitions for repeat violence injunctions are heard under the rules of civil law and not criminal law. In many cases, petitions will be filed in relation to allegations that are also being heard in a criminal matter. However, there is no requirement that the alleged acts of violence led to criminal charges against the respondent. Because of the fact that the hearing is carried out pursuant to rules governing civil law, the burden of proof that the petitioner must reach is lower than it would be in a criminal proceeding. In order to convict a defendant in a criminal case, the charges must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil case for an injunction, the burden is lower, and as such, the injunction can be granted even in cases where the evidence would not meet the burden required to convict a criminal defendant.
It is interesting to note that the petitioner need not file criminal charges, and police need not investigate the case in order for the repeat injunction to be granted. However, the allegations in the repeat violence injunction petition must amount to what would be grounds for criminal charges. The judge must, therefore, be convinced that the respondent did carry out a crime against the petitioner in order to grant the injunctive order.
The hearing is the chance for the judge to weigh the evidence presented by the petitioner and the respondent. The judge is tasked with determining the credibility of the two parties and the strength of the evidence each present to the court. The hearing may include the testimony of the parties and witnesses, emails, text messages, photographs, medical records, as well as other forms of evidence which the parties may have to support their cases.
The law allows the respondent to testify on their own behalf, but it is important to understand the potential consequences of doing so. For instance, anything said in court on the day of the injunction hearing may be used against the respondent at a later date, including in a criminal trial. The petitioner’s counsel will also have the opportunity to cross-examine the respondent.
The respondent’s attorney can cross-examine the petitioner as well. The respondent’s attorney will seek to expose inconsistencies in the petitioner’s testimony and will work to identify motives that the petitioner may have to wrongfully seek the repeat violence injunction.
It is important to note that the judge may not enter the petition based on the respondent having a reputation of being a violent person. The petitioner must allege specific facts indicating that the respondent carried out violent acts against him or her in order to prove the necessity of the injunctive order.
Dangers of Self-Representation in Defending Against a Petition for an Injunction Against Repeat Violence in Vero Beach
When a person is facing an injunction for repeat violence, they often feel that they are in a good position to clear their name by explaining what actually transpired between themself and the petitioner. The individual may think that by truthfully explaining what happened, they can shed light on the reality of the situation and prevent the petition from being entered. This is often a serious mistake.
There are a number of risks that a respondent will take by representing themselves in an injunction hearing. First off, the testimony may end up including self-incrimination. The law gives the accused the right to avoid incriminating themselves. By testifying, the respondent may waive that important protection.
Another issue is that when a person represents themselves, they still must follow the rules for legal proceedings. These rules are not easy or intuitive, and the respondent might find that it is incredibly difficult to put forth an adequate defense while trying to navigate such proceedings. Remember also that the respondent will be expected to act like a professional, even though the process will inevitably be scary and emotionally tasking. Although judges may have some level of patience for a self-represented litigant, he or she must uphold decorum in the court, and cannot allow a party to show disrespect to the judge’s authority.
Hiring an attorney who has experience handling repeat violence injunctions means that the respondent will have an advocate who can guide and counsel them throughout the process, and who is capable of protecting his or her rights. This is even more important given the intersection between the injunction hearing and potential criminal charges. The two cases, though separate, intersect and can impact one another. An attorney experienced in this practice area will be able to ensure that the defense strategy works for both proceedings.
Repeat Violence Injunctions Can Have Devastating Impacts
There are far-reaching consequences of a repeat violence injunction in Vero Beach. In the event the defense against the injunction fails, the court may order any of the following:
- Strict Rules preventing contact with the petitioner and possibly others;
- Potential criminal charges for even minor violations of the order;
- Damage to the respondent’s reputation, employment, ability to obtain employment, housing possibilities, education possibilities, and ability to obtain a loan. Because the injunction is a public document, the consequences can follow a person throughout his or her life;
- Forfeiting of second amendment rights and the surrender of all firearms and ammunition, including those used for hunting;
- Required mental health counseling, the costs of which, the respondent must cover.
Modifications, Terminations, and Extensions of Injunctions for Repeat Violence in Vero Beach, Florida
Many injunctions will be entered on a permanent basis. Judges in Florida can, in some instances, set a termination date for the injunctive order.
If the injunction is permanent, it will stay in effect until a party successfully moves to have the injunction terminated. The party moving to terminate the order will have the burden of proving why the order should no longer remain in effect. Parties may also move to terminate an order with a fixed end date prior to that time. It is also possible to modify the order, but this will also require the party to prove the modification is warranted.
In the event that an order is set to expire, the petitioner can move to have the order extended. If the petitioner fails to move to have the order extended, the injunction will terminate. Any move to extend the order must be filed within 30 days of the date on which the order is set to expire. It is possible that the judge will require another hearing, giving the respondent the opportunity to argue against the extension of the order.
Defense Attorneys Work to Protect Your Rights
If you are facing a repeat violence injunction in Vero Beach, Florida, your best opportunity to fight the entering of that injunction, and to protect your legal rights is to hire an experienced defense attorney. Each case will have its own unique set of facts that your attorney will use to build a strategy to defend against the injunction. Failing to effectively fight against the allegations can have far-reaching and severe consequences for the respondent.
If You Are Facing an Injunction, Your Rights are in Jeopardy
The Vero Beach defense attorneys at Musca Law are ready to defend you and to protect your legal rights and reputation. Contact our offices at 888-484-5057 to speak with an experienced criminal and injunction defense attorney who is ready to fight to protect your rights.