An injunction—also known as a restraining order—gives a victim certain rights against his or her abuser. In Florida, anyone who is the victim of repeat violence, dating violence, or domestic violence, can petition the court for an injunction. These injunctions are designed to give the victim legal protection from further harm by placing restrictions on the freedom of the abuser. An injunction will disallow the abuser from having any direct or indirect contact with the petitioner. An abuser that violates an active injunction can face criminal conviction, jail time, fines, and probation.
If a protective injunction has been filed against you, it is important that you understand the consequences. An injunction is a serious matter with potentially damaging consequences including but not limited to the following:
- An injunction can never be sealed or expunged.
- A restraining order is public record and can be accessed by employers, and those conducting background searches.
- While an injunction is in effect, you lose certain liberties including the right to possess or handle a firearm.
- A judge, when grating an injunction, can order you to attend a mental health exam and/or follow up treatment.
- You may have to attend a Batterer’s intervention Program, which is 27 weeks long.
- A judge, when granting an injunction, may order you to have little or no contact with your children.
Domestic Violence Injunction:
A Domestic Violence Injunction, established by section 741.30 Florida Statutes, allows a family or household member to seek an injunction against any other family or household member. Essentially, the petitioner (the one seeking the injunction) must allege that he/she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence. Typically, evidence must be in writing and sworn to the court, with copies to the other party.
Repeat Violence Injunction:
A Repeat Violence Injunction, established by section 784.046 Florida Statutes, allows for non-family members threatened with repeat violence to seek an injunction against the person causing the violence. Repeat Violence, as defined by the applicable Florida law, means 2 incidents of violence or stalking with one incident having occurred within the last six months. Violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault or battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, or false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death.
Dating Violence Injunction:
A Dating Violence Injunction, established by section 784.046, Florida Statutes, allows for a victim of dating violence to seek legal protection from the abuser. Under applicable Florida law, violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault or battery, stalking, aggravated talking, kidnapping, or false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death. Essentially, Dating Violence refers to violence between individuals involved in an intimate or romantic relationship that continued for an extended period of time within the previous six months.
The Temporary Injunction:
An injunction starts when the petitioner files paperwork and submits it to the Clerk of Circuit Court, who in turn, submits it to the Judge for review. If allegations are made that fit the statutory requirements, the Judge will grant a temporary injunction until the respondent can be served with notice and appear at a formal hearing to respond to the allegations. Typically, the Sherriff’s department will serve the respondent with the injunction.
Before a final injunction is entered by the court, a hearing will be held in which the petitioner and respondent can address the allegations. At the hearing, both the respondent and petitioner can be represented by attorneys, and each can present evidence and testimony from witnesses. At injunction hearings, the Florida Rules of Evidence apply, as well as the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The burden of proof at an injunction hearing is lower than what is required for criminal proceedings. Florida Law establishes that an injunction can be issued “at the discretion of the court upon a finding of reasonable cause”. With such a low burden of proof, the petitioner only needs to present minimal evidence of harm or imminent danger to have an injunction ordered. If the judge decides to grant the petitioner’s request and enter the injunction he or she may:
- Prevent the respondent from contacting the petitioner at their home, place of employment, school, or other location.
- Order that the respondent cannot go within a specified number of feet from the petitioner.
- Order a “no contact” provision that prevents the respondent from calling, emailing, texting, or using a third party to communicate with the petitioner.
- Implement, order, or modify a child custody schedule between the respondent and the petitioner.
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