Injunctions For Protection Against Domestic Violence
Domestic violence means 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 member by another family or household member.* If you are the victim of domestic violence or if you have reasonable cause to believe that you are in immediate danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence, you can apply for an injunction against domestic violence.**
* Fla. Stat. § 741.28(2)
** Fla. Stat. § 741.30(1)(a)
What types of injunctions for protection against domestic violence are there?
In Florida, when you file a petition for protection against domestic violence, the court automatically will consider giving you two types of injunctions: a temporary injunction and a final injunction for protection against domestic violence.
Temporary (ex parte) Injunctions
The temporary or ex parte injunction is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from the abuser. As soon as you file your petition for protection against domestic violence, the clerk will give your petition to the judge. If the judge decides that there is an immediate and present danger of domestic violence, the judge will grant the temporary injunction.* You will not have to testify and the abuser does not need to be present. The judge will make the decision based only on the information in your petition** so it is important to take the time to carefully fill out the petition.
The temporary injunction takes effect as soon as the abuser is served with (formally given) a copy of the order. This is called giving the abuser notice or having the abuser served with process.
The temporary injunction stays in effect for a certain number of days, but won’t last longer than 15 days. Before the fixed time period ends, there will be a full hearing to decide whether to give you a final injunction. The date for the full hearing will be set at the same time the judge makes the decision about the temporary injunction. The temporary injunction will last until the full hearing takes place.*** Even if the judge denies you a temporary injunction, it does not necessarily mean you will be denied a final injunction. If the judge believes that there is no immediate and present danger of domestic violence, the judge is still supposed to set a hearing date for a final injunction where you will have a chance to better present your case.** However, be sure to ask the judge for a hearing – sometimes judges don’t automatically set a hearing date.
At the full hearing, the judge will decide whether to give you a final injunction. The final injunction will last longer than 15 days and may provide you with more protections than the temporary injunction did. The final injunction may have a set period of time that it will be in effect (for example, one year) or it may not have an expiration date. If there is no expiration date, either you or the abuser can file in court to modify (change) or dissolve (end) the injunction at any time and the judge will decide whether or not to grant the relief requested.****
Fla. Stat. § 741.30(5)(a)
** Fla. Stat. § 741.30 (5)(b)
*** Fla. Stat. § 741.30(5)(c)
**** Fla. Stat. § 741.30 (6)(c)
In most states, the protection order or restraining order laws are designed so that you can go to court without a lawyer. However, if there are children involved, if your abuser has a lawyer, or if you think you might need help, you may want to try to find a lawyer to make sure that everything is done right.
For other cases, like custody, divorce, immigration, etc., it is usually better if you have a good lawyer to help you. If you have been a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, it is helpful if your lawyer understands the issues you may be facing and has experience working with domestic violence or sexual assault.
Choosing a Lawyer With Family Law Experience
If you can afford a lawyer, you may find a good referral through your state bar association or through a local domestic violence, sexual assault, or legal aid program. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to get help from legal aid or find pro bono services.
Remember that if you are hiring a lawyer, you can interview the lawyer and make sure that you feel good about what he or she can do for you. Be sure to ask about the lawyer’s experience with whatever kind of case you need help with, and make sure the lawyer is able to explain things clearly to you.
West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
A conviction for a Florida domestic violence offense comes with serious legal and social ramifications. If you have been arrested for domestic violence in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, Riviera Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, or anywhere else in the Palm Beach County area, contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A.. When considering a lawyer as a part of your domestic violence defense strategy, it is best to contact him as soon as possible after your arrest.