Domestic Violence Injunctions

Under Florida Statutes Section 741.30, any person who is the victim of domestic violence—or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim—can file a sworn petition requesting an injunction for protection against domestic violence. In effect, this process allows the alleged victim (called a “petitioner”) to go to a court and ask a judge to issue an injunction (sometimes referred to as a restraining order) against an alleged abuser (a “respondent”). Once the petitioner formally requests the injunction, the judge ordinarily first issues a “temporary injunction” lasting only until there can be a hearing. The respondent is notified of the temporary order and of a date for the hearing—at which the court will determine whether or not the order should be put in place more permanently. Until then, the respondent is prohibited from having any contact with the alleged victim and any children included in the petition. Following the hearing, a new “final injunction” may prohibit contact for a certain number of years, or it may prohibit contact indefinitely.

In addition to domestic violence injunctions, there are several other types of injunctions available in the state of Florida. Florida Statutes Section 784.046 authorizes different injunctions for victims of repeat violence, sexual violence, and dating violence. In this section, “dating violence” is defined as violence between individuals who have had—in the past 6 months—a continuing, significant romantic or intimate relationship. To be able to petition for a dating violence injunction, a person must have reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of an act of dating violence.

In establishing the criteria for a sexual violence injunction, Section 784.046 defines “sexual violence” as any one incident of sexual battery, a lewd or lascivious act, luring or enticing a child, or any other forcible felony in which a sexual act is attempted or committed. A person can seek a sexual violence injunction even if no criminal charges based on the incident were filed.

Finally, Section 784.046 defines “repeat violence” as two or more incidents of violence or stalking committed by the respondent. Of these incidents, at least one must have happened within 6 months of the filing of the petition.

A fifth type of injunction that a petitioner can seek in Florida is an injunction for protection against stalking. Florida law defines “stalking” as the repeated following, harassment, or cyberstalking of one person by another. “Cyberstalking” means engaging in a certain course of conduct, using electronic mail or electronic communication, in order to communicate words, images, or language to a specific person—serving no legitimate purpose and causing substantial emotional distress to that person.

If you have been served with a temporary injunction and a hearing has been scheduled in your case, or if you expect to be named as a respondent in an injunction hearing, you should seek the advice of an attorney right away. Attorney Robert Foley has extensive experience in representing respondents at domestic violence injunction hearings. Contact the Robert Foley Law Firm today for a free legal consultation on how to approach your injunction hearing.

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