Injunctions, sometimes referred to as "restraining orders," are court orders prohibiting an individual from having contact with the alleged victim of violence. The individual seeking protection who files the petition for injunction is called the "Petitioner," and the individual restrained by the court is called the "Respondent." Four types of civil injunctions exist in Florida: (1) domestic violence, (2) sexual violence, (3) dating violence, and (4) repeat violence. These injunctions have different requirements based on the facts of an individual case.
A domestic violence injunction may be filed against a member of a Petitioner's "family." Florida broadly defines family to include those related by blood or marriage, those living together, and finally, unmarried parents with a shared child. A petition for a domestic violence injunction is often times filed by an alleged victim of domestic violence during the pendency of a criminal case. A petitioner is entitled to a domestic violence injunction against a family member if he or she has "reasonable cause to believe" that he or she is "in imminent danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence." (emphasis added).
An injunction against sexual violence can be brought against anyone, even if they are not a member of a petitioner's family. If a respondent commits sexual battery, lewd or lascivious molestation or other sex acts, the violence has been reported to law enforcement, or the sexual aggressor has been imprisoned and is to be released in 90 days, one may petition the court for an injunction for protection against sexual violence.
Another type of petition in one for protection against dating violence. If a couple has been dating for over six months, has an expectation of continued affection or sexual involvement, has frequent interaction during the relationship, and a member of the relationship has been violent, the victim may file for a petition for a dating violence injunction.
Finally, a petition for repeat violence is available against anyone if there have been two incidents of physical violence, threats, or stalking, and one event occurred within the last six months.
If a petitioner has been the victim of one of the above types of abuse, he or she may fill out a petition for injunction and file it with the Court. If the petition meets the basic requirements discussed above, the Court will enter a temporary injunction against respondent. The respondent will be given a copy of the injunction ("served") by law enforcement.
After issuing the temporary injunction, the Court will set a hearing as soon as possible to determine whether the petition is valid and whether to issue a permanent injunction against the respondent. At the hearing, the judge considers testimony from both parties, views evidence presented, and the parties are given an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.
It is extremely important to hire a lawyer for the injunction hearing regardless of whether you are a petitioner or respondent. A permanent injunction carries with it serious collateral consequences, including possible loss of the right to keep firearms, exclusive use of a home for a petitioner in a domestic violence injunction, and the award of temporary child support if children are involved. A skilled lawyer can either prosecute or defend your case by presenting favorable evidence to the Court and skillfully cross-examining all relevant witnesses.
The injunction process can be stressful and an injunction carries with it serious consequences. Thus, it is important to hire experienced attorneys to guide you through the process and ensure that you are either protected from violence if you are a petitioner, or able to successfully fight the charges if you are a respondent. Our lawyers have extensive experience in injunction court and are ready to assist you whether you are seeking an injunction or have been served as a respondent.