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Sadly, acts of domestic violence are committed daily in the state of Florida. If you, or someone you love, is a victim of domestic violence or are in imminent fear of becoming one, the attorneys at the Lopez Law Group want to help you get the protection you deserve.
Beyond domestic violence, which is traditionally limited to those who live in your home, typically a spouse or partner, the law now provides similar protections for those in less formal relationships. ,
Florida law has expanded the right to petition the courts for protective orders by expanding the statutes to cover “dating violence.” The statute provides that dating violence is violence that takes place between individuals who have a significant relationship that is romantic or intimate in nature. Of note, the statute defines that the term domestic violence does not extend to those in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who only spend time together in a business or social context.
What is an Injunction?
An injunction is also frequently referred to as a restraining order. Essentially, it is a court order prohibiting one person from taking specific actions. In cases of domestic violence, the court order prohibits the abuser from coming within a certain distance of the person alleging they were abused. If the abuser violates these orders, then criminal action can be taken. In incidents of domestic violence, restraining orders are a necessary tool to ensure the police have the power to interceded before actual violence takes place.
What Types of Injunctions Can I Request?
The type of injunction, or restraining order, you need will depend on the circumstances. Florida statutes are very specific about who may and may not ask for injunctions and also detail what relief is and is not available.
Types of Injunctions
Domestic violence—if a spouse, or ex-spouse, has reason to fear for their safety, they can petition the court to issue a restraining order prohibiting the abusive spouse or partner from coming within a certain distance of them, or other remedies designed to keep them safe.
Repeat violence injunction—available to victims when there have been two or more incidents of violence or stalking. One of the two incidents must have occurred within the six months before the filing of the Petition.
Sexual violence injunctions—if you have been the victim of sexual harassment or another type of sex crime, you are eligible for this type of injunction. To file for this type of injunction, it is not necessary that charges were filed. The injunction can also be approved if criminal charges were reduced or dismissed by the prosecutor.
Stalking injunction—available to protect you from cyberstalking, physical stalking, harassment, and other acts that fit the criteria for stalking.
What is a Domestic Violence Petition
Domestic violence petitions are filed in civil court but are quasi-criminal in nature. Simply put, a violation of a domestic violation injunction imposed by the court can and will result in criminal charges. That being said, it is essential not to note that there does not have to be a corresponding criminal charge of violence to establish that you are entitled to a domestic violence injunction.
The Petition begins by providing detailed information about the relationship between you, as the petitioner and the person that you are seeking an injunction against, called the respondent. The Petition requires you to provide background information on the respondent. You will also need to be prepared to provide truthful information relevant to finding you have either been a victim of domestic violence or that you are in imminent danger from the respondent. For example, the Petition will ask if the respondent is in possession of any firearms or if he or she has ever been subject to the Baker Act.
The Baker Act, under Florida law, is the ability to have someone committed for a mental health evaluation and possible treatment if it is established that they are a danger to themselves or others. If the person you are seeking an injunction against has previously been the subject of the Baker Act, it can help establish their history as a possible danger to you.
What Happens Once I File the Petition?
The Petition will be reviewed to ensure it adequately alleges the statutory requirements for a finding of domestic or dating violence. If so, the court will grant the Petition on a preliminary basis. The court will then set a hearing in the matter, and the respondent will be issued a summons to appear in court.
At this hearing, the court will hear testimony and receive evidence from both the petitioner and the respondent. Once all evidence and testimony are complete, the court will then render a decision as to whether the injunction should be granted for a more extended period of time or if the injunction is unnecessary at this time.
The courts take these Petitions very seriously and will carefully and thoughtfully consider your requests and the evidence and testimony provided. An injunction can be crucial for your safety, so if you are being stalked, threatened, or feel fearful that someone might harm you, please contact an attorney to help you get a restraining order as soon as possible.
Domestic Violence Statistics in Florida
Domestic, dating and sexual violence occur across every age, race, socio-economic status, and religion. There is no victim profile of who can experience violence, threats or stalking. Domestic violence continues to trend upward in the United States, and most major metropolitan areas have indicated an uptick in domestic disputes during the Coronavirus pandemic.
In the United States, an average of 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 3 women and almost 1 in 4 men have been the victim of physical violence by a partner during their lifetime.
- In intimate partner homicides, one study found that 20% of the homicide victims where not the intimate partner. Instead, it was a family member, friend, neighbor, or first responder who was killed.
- An estimated 3.3 million children directly witness some form of partner violence each year.
- Children who witness this type of violence are prone to depression, anxiety, poor educational performance and are more likely to grow up to be an abuser or a victim of abuse.
- One in five college women will be assaulted before they leave college.
- Immigrants, which make up a significant portion of Florida’s population, are far less likely to report incidents of violence, meaning that the overall reporting of domestic violence is probably artificially suppressed in Florida.
- Intimate partner violence costs taxpayers an estimated 8.3 billion dollars a year.
- Over twenty percent of high school students report being sexually or physically abused by a dating partner.
- Over 120,000 cases of domestic violence are reported in Florida each year, but far more cases go unreported.
- One-third of female homicide victims are murdered by a partner or ex-partner.
Florida Attorneys Who Understand the Need for Injunctions
Domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, and stalking are all serious allegations. No one should have to live in fear of what someone else might do to them. If you feel that way, please reach out to our attorneys so that we can help you get a restraining order as soon as possible.
We know it is just a sheet of paper, and you may feel that it doesn’t offer any real protection. Florida has changed the way it views restraining orders, and having one in place allows you to call the police when the respondent is in violation of the injunction.
For instance, if the injunction maintains, they must remain 500 yards away from your home, but you see them parked on the street outside, they are violating the injunction and you can call the police. Without an injunction, in the same situation, the police would be powerless to do anything because they are on a public road.
You deserve to live your life free from violence or the threat of violence. In addition, to contact The Lopez Law Group to help you obtain an injunction as legal protection against violence, we recommend that you contact the Florida Department of Children and Families for access to different resources to help you remain safe. You can also call 1-800-500-1119.
Use this link to find local domestic violence centers that can offer you a safe place to go if you feel you are in imminent danger. If your abuser can monitor your internet or computer activity, you may wish to call or use a computer at another location. You do not have to live in fear, and there are resources available to keep you and your family safe.
The Lopez Law Group cares about your safety, and we will walk you through the process of getting the legal protection you need. Do not wait until an attack happens. If you feel threatened or in danger, let us help you take the preemptive step of getting an injunction. To speak with an understanding and compassionate attorney familiar with Florida law, give us a call right away at (727) 933-0015.