An injunction is a court order against someone after alleged physical violence or placing another person in fear of physical violence. Any person can file a petition asking the court to issue an injunction and protect them against alleged violence. The person who files the injunction is called the Petitioner.
According to the Pinellas County Clerk records, from January 2020 to September 2022, there were 500 injunctions filed in Pinellas County alone. Of the 500 injunctions:
- 156 were related to stalking
- 278 were related to domestic violence
- 41 were related to repeat violence
- 25 were related to dating violence
An injunction requires the other party, called the Respondent, to stay away from a person’s home, car, job, school and other places that the court deems appropriate. Injunctions also forbid contact by telephone, writing, email, or by social media.
The injunction process is a civil process, rather than a criminal one. Often, a Respondent will have both a pending criminal charge for something like battery and an injunction. They are handled by two different judges and the rules are different for both.
What’s the Difference Between an Injunction and a Restraining Order in Florida?
In Florida, injunctions and restraining orders are terms that are used interchangeably. Injunction is the correct legal term, but if someone says restraining order, everyone knows what it means. There is not a separate process for an injunction versus a restraining order. They are really one and the same.
Types of Injunctions in Florida
In Florida, there are six types of injunctions: domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence, repeat violence, stalking, and exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Each injunction has different requirements. The type a person files depends on their relationship with the Respondent and what has happened.
If a person is under 18, they may need an adult to file on their behalf. The Clerk will advise further if this is needed.
Domestic Violence Injunction
Florida Statue 741.30 states that any household member, family member, or spouse can file a petition for an injunction against domestic violence.
Florida Statute 741.28 defines domestic violence as any of the following:
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Sexual assault
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated stalking
- False imprisonment
- Or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or member of the same household.
“Family” or “household members” include spouses, ex-spouses, and anyone related by blood or marriage. In addition, any parties in an intimate relationship and living together, regardless of marital status, are also considered family. “Family” members must currently reside in a single dwelling unit or have lived together in the past. The exception to this rule is two people who have children together, who are family regardless of residence.
So, have you previously lived with another person like they were your “family” or did you have a child with the other person? If you’ve answered yes to either question, you can file a petition for a domestic violence injunction.
Under Florida Statute 784.0485, stalking is “intentional, malicious and repetitive harassment or following.” One may file a stalking injunction if they are the victim of stalking. In Florida, cyberstalking is a valid reason to file a petition for an injunction. Cyberstalking is defined as direct communication with a victim through any electronic mode without a legitimate purpose, leading to severe emotional distress for the victim.
Stalking is becoming a very common type of injunction because it is easier to prove by the Petitioner. It is becoming a “catch all” type of injunction where the allegations are jumbled.
Dating Violence Injunction
The dating violence injunction requires elements:
1. Have you dated the other person for at least six months?
2. Did you have an expectation/affection/sexual participation with the other person?
3. Did you and the other person communicate frequently and continuously during the relationship?
If someone can answer yes to all those questions, and the offender inflicted violence while they dated, one can file a petition for a dating violence injunction.
Repeat Violence Injunction
If none of the other injunction types apply to a given situation, one might be able to file a repeat violence injunction. This petition is generally used for neighbors, co-workers, students, relatives, or persons the petitioner never lived with. This injunction is used very frequently when there are neighbor disputes at a Homeowner’s Association or a Condo Association.
To be eligible to file this type of injunction, their case must meet two requirements:
- There must have been two incidents of physical violence, threats of violence, or stalking
- The violence, threats, or stalking must have occurred in the last six months.
Sexual Violence Injunction
If a situation does not meet the criteria for a domestic violence injunction, one could file a sexual violence injunction. If the offender committed any of these acts:
- Sexual battery (chapter 794)
- Lewd and lascivious act upon or in front of a minor under 16
- Lured or enticed a child (chapter 787)
- required a child to perform sexual acts (Chapter 827)
- Or committed any forcible felony involving a committed or attempted sexual act.
One must report sexual violence to law enforcement. Furthermore, they must cooperate with any criminal proceeding to file a sexual violence injunction.
If the other person has been in prison for sexual violence and their release is within 90 days, one can file a sexual violence injunction.
Injunction for Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult
Under Florida Statutes 825.1035, if a petitioner has substantial evidence of exploitation or abuse, they can file for a protective injunction.
A vulnerable adult, as defined by Florida Statue 415.102 (28), is a person who is 18 or older and cannot perform daily activities independently. They may have impaired abilities due to mental, emotional, sensory, long-term physical, or brain damage, the frailty of aging, or a developmental disability or dysfunction.
Any of the following instances can be subject to an injunction to protect a vulnerable adult from exploitation:
- Abuse in a confidential or business relationship
- The act of or conspiracy to take any property, knowing the vulnerable adult lacks the capacity to consent
- Breaching a fiduciary duty that leads to appropriation
- Transfer of property without equivalent value in exchange
- Committing fraud to obtain a power of attorney, trustee, or any other fiduciary appointment
- Any abuse of fiduciary powers
- Taking funds from a joint account that is only for the benefit of the vulnerable adult
- If a caregiver, intentionally or negligently, fails to provide appropriate care using the vulnerable adult’s funds.
If there is sufficient evidence of exploitation of the vulnerable adult, the following parties may file a petition for an injunction:
- The vulnerable adult
- A guardian of the vulnerable adult
- A person or organization acting on behalf the vulnerable adult with their consent
- A person who is simultaneously filing a petition to determine incapacity and seeking a temporary emergency guardian.
By law, the petitioner must report the exploitation to authorities and swear under oath that they have done so. They must also file the petition for injunction in the guardianship proceeding if there is one pending.
How Does Someone File a Petition for Injunction?
Anyone who wishes to file a petition for an injunction must fill out a packet at the Clerk’s Office. It is very easy to do. The paperwork can be filed with or without the help of a lawyer. Most injunctions are filed pro se, meaning that the Petitioner does not have a lawyer.
The Petitioner will need to explain in detail what has happened, including all examples of violence the other person has committed against them. Everything should be printed or typed neatly so that a judge can read it. If there are pictures of injuries, text messages, or anything else that the judge needs to see, it should be included.
The Petitioner must also include all dates and locations of every violent incident or threat of violence. If an incident is left off the petition, you are then prevented from bringing it up in the case.
If the Petitioner and Respondent have or had other court cases, that information must be included.
After completing all the forms, the Petition will be taken to the judge who is on duty that day. All petitions are reviewed the same day that they are filed. Regardless if the petition is granted, the Respondent will be served by the Sheriff with a copy of the petition and all court papers.
What Happens After Someone Files a Petition for Injunction in Florida?
Once some files a petition for injunction, two things can happen:
- The judge decides to grant a Temporary Injunction for Protection. This injunction is only in effect until the hearing. The Respondent may not contact the Petitioner before the hearing.
- The judge denies the petition. In this instance, if the Petitioner requested a final hearing, then the Respondent will get served. If the Petitioner does not request a final hearing, then the case is over. The Petitioner will have the opportunity to file a supplemental petition and add any other information they think will make a difference.
What Are the Consequences of an Injunction for the Offender in Florida?
The Respondent may be affected in the following ways due to an injunction against them:
- They may have limited or no ability to purchase and possess weapons and ammunition
- The injunction is enforceable in all 50 states
- The final injunction might require the other party to move out of the shared residence
- They may face restrictions or limits on time-sharing with minor children and require payment or child support
- The injunction may require the other party to complete a Certified Batterers’ Intervention Program
- The injunction could affect their employment application process, especially if applying for a job requiring weapons use
- Their professional licenses could be affected
- They may not be admissible to the military, schools, colleges, or universities.
If You Filed An Injunction, Can You Hire a Lawyer to Help?
Yes. Many Petitioners file an injunction without the help of a lawyer and then realize that it might not be as easy as they thought. Perhaps the Respondent hires a lawyer to defend him/her at the hearing. Perhaps you simply don’t feel comfortable going to a final hearing alone. Whatever the case, a Petitioner has every right to hire a lawyer to help out with the injunction.
What To Do If Someone Files An Injunction Against You
If someone files an injunction against you in Florida, you will get served with official court papers. Typically, a law enforcement officer from your Sheriff’s Department will serve you.
In the paperwork that you receive, you will be able to see the allegations that were made and read the court order. You will get the date for the final hearing.
The most crucial first step after an officer serves you with an injunction is to call a Florida Injunction Lawyer. Since injunctions might be public records, anyone who runs a background check on you will see it. Furthermore, since hearing dates are very soon after you get served, you need to give your Florida Defense Attorney time to strategize a defense.
Obeying A Temporary Restraining Order
A preliminary injunction in Florida lasts until the date of the hearing. The reality is that the judge sets it on the calendar when they have time. It just depends on their schedule.
Once a law enforcement officer serves you with an injunction, you are legally required to obey the court order. Even if you and the Petitioner had been communicating up to the moment before the injunction was served, you can no longer do it. If you violate the injunction, the police can arrest you and charge you with a crime. Getting bond after violating an injunction is not easy either.
What to Avoid if You Have an Injunction Against You
Once a person files an injunction against you, what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. Certain actions will invoke negative consequences and potentially damage your chances in court. The best advice that anyone can give is to lay low and don’t instigate the Petitioner. It never helps to have your mom or friends reach out and try to apply pressure.
Do Not Contact The Person Filing An Injunction Against You
Once the injunction is filed, you should refrain from contacting that person. Understandably, you will want to call them and try to work things out. However, that is not permitted by the order and if you get caught doing it, you will go to jail.
If the Petitioner contacts you by phone, you may answer and redirect them to your Florida Injunction Lawyer. Do not spend a lot of time on the phone. The reason why you can answer the phone is because the court order does not prevent the Petitioner from contacting you. It only prevents you from contacting the Petitioner. So, if YOU are called, that is not considered to be YOU contacting the Petitioner. But, if the Petitioner texts or messages you, do not respond. That is considered contact.
Do Not Post About Your Injunction Case On Social Media
On top of cutting all communication with the person, you should also avoid discussing any case details on social media. This is common sense, but you would be surprised how often this happens. While you may be angry and feel the injunction is unfounded or undue, you should not make public statements about the case. It just never helps.
Avoid discussing details publicly, no matter how angry or frustrated you feel. The Petitioner and their lawyer could use this against you in court, even if you don’t contact them directly. Also, refrain from discussing the case with any mutual friends while you are emotionally charged. They could be potential witnesses for the case. Stoking the other party up or trying to retaliate just never helps your situation.
Why Do I Need a Florida Injunction Lawyer?
Having a lawyer can significantly help your case. If you don’t have legal training, how are you going to be able to handle the procedural requirements of a trial on your own? How will you be able to introduce evidence? Ask questions in a way that are legally permitted? Know the standard of proof? And, if you lose, do you know the appropriate length and terms of the permanent injunction?
A Florida Injunction Lawyer can help you through this confusing and emotional process.
Can I Challenge a Protective Order Issued Against Me?
Yes. You have a right to a hearing where you present your side of the case. You can question the Petitioner, challenge the evidence and present your own evidence and witnesses.
Provide Your Florida Injunction Lawyer With Evidence
If you have proof that the claims made against you are false, collect evidence and give it to your lawyer. It will help if others can corroborate the other party’s claims as false.
You should also inform your Florida Injunction Lawyer if the person filing against you has a history of making false claims or has an ulterior motive. Revenge and jealousy are big motivators for the filing of an injunction, but you need evidence like text messages or emails.
Can I Agree to an Injunction Without a Hearing?
Yes. In many cases, especially when there is a pending criminal case, the injunction is the least of your concerns. In these situations, you can stipulate to a certain length of time in order to avoid the hearing.
In some cases, the Respondent agrees that he/she no longer wants contact with the Petitioner either. These situations can also result in a stipulation.
Contact a Florida Injunction Lawyer Today
If you are in the middle of an injunction case as either the Petitioner or the Respondent, it is always smart to have a lawyer with you. If you are the Petitioner, you don’t want to be bullied by a defense lawyer who knows the rules and the judge. If you are a Respondent, you don’t want the stigma of an injunction being out there. And, you don’t want to take the chance that if there is an injunction, the same person who filed it against you tries to get you arrested for violating it.
We represent both Petitioners and Respondents for injunctions. We specialize in Pinellas County, Florida. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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