Orders for protection are commonly referred to as "restraining orders" or "protection orders." These injunctions for protection can involve allegations of domestic violence. The person who files the petition is called the petitioner. The person who is served with the order is called the respondent.
The petition for an injunction can be filed, even if the respondent was never arrested. The alleged victim in these cases may make exaggerated or completely false allegations when seeking injunctions. Getting served with an injunction for protection can cause the respondent to see numerous aspects of their lives dramatically altered.
If you were served with a temporary order of protection in Broward County, FL, against domestic violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, dating violence or stalking, then seek out the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you have been served with any kind of petition for an injunction for protection in South Florida, it is in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. aggressively defends clients accused of domestic violence offenses all over Broward County, including Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Davie, Plantation, and many others.
Our criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale are experienced in fighting to protect the respondent. Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell will work tirelessly to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that results in the fewest possible consequences.
Our attorneys can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case. Call (954) 745-7457 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Florida has five types of injunctions, all of which are civil proceedings to which the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure and the Florida Rules of Evidence apply. The type of restraining order sought by the petitioner depends on his or her relationship to the respondent as well as the type of behavior allegedly involved.
A petitioner can seek an injunction for protection against domestic violence if he or she has been the alleged victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming an alleged victim of any act of domestic violence.
Florida Statute § 741.28(2) defines domestic violence as “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.”
Family or household member is defined under Florida Statute § 741.28(3) as meaning “spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.
With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.”
A petitioner who is not a family or household member can seek an injunction for protection against repeat violence if he or she is the alleged victim of repeat violence, or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child living at home who is the alleged victim of repeat violence.
Repeat violence is defined under Florida Statute § 784.046(1)(b) as “two incidents of violence or stalking committed by the respondent, one of which must have been within six months of the filing of the petition, which are directed against the petitioner or the petitioner’s immediate family member.”
A petitioner can seek an injunction for protection against dating violence if he or she is the alleged victim of dating violence, defined under Florida Statute § 784.046(1)(d) as “violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”
The existence of such a relationship is determined based on the consideration of the following factors:
Dating violence does not include “violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who only have engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.”
A petitioner who is the alleged victim of stalking or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child who is living at home who is the alleged victim of stalking can seek an injunction for protection against stalking. Florida Statute § 784.048(2) states that a person commits the offense of stalking if he or she “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.”
Harass is defined under Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(a) as “to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose,” and a course of conduct is defined under Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(b) as “a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose.” Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(d) defines cyberstalk as “to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.”
A petitioner who is the alleged victim of sexual violence or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child who is living at home who is the alleged victim of sexual violence can seek an injunction for protection against sexual violence if he or she has reported the alleged sexual violence to a law enforcement agency and is cooperating in any criminal proceeding against the respondent, regardless of whether criminal charges based on the sexual violence have been filed, reduced, or dismissed by the state attorney.
This type of injunction can also be filed if the respondent who committed the sexual violence against the alleged victim or minor child was sentenced to a term of imprisonment in state prison for the sexual violence and the respondent’s term of imprisonment has expired or is due to expire within 90 days following the date the petition is filed.
Sexual violence is defined under Florida Statute § 784.046(1)(b) as any one of the following incidents, regardless of whether criminal charges based on the incident were filed, reduced, or dismissed by the State Attorney's Office in Broward County:
Injunctions for protection can have serious consequences. Under § 790.233, Fla. Stat., individuals against whom a section 784.0485 injunction is entered may not possess a firearm or ammunition. Under § 784.0485(9)(a), violation of an injunction for protection may be enforced through a civil or criminal contempt proceeding or prosecuted as a criminal violation.
An injunction for protection is also a public record that can affect a person's employment and freedom to travel. Although many persons are not represented by lawyers at injunction hearings, you are entitled to hire an attorney to represent you in this important matter.
The courts often have busy dockets that make it tempting for judges to push the cases through very quickly. Expediency must not overwhelm a trial judge's obligation to ensure litigants a fully understand the consequences that flow from injunctions for protection. Hiring an attorney is the best way to make sure your rights are protected.
People who identify as any of the types of victims listed above can file petitions for their respective injunctions for protection. After an alleged victim files a petition, the judge will either deny the petition, issue a temporary or ex parte injunction that is in effect until the hearing (typically held within 15 days), or sign an order setting a hearing on the petition for injunction for protection without the issuance of an interim temporary injunction.
Judges base initial decisions on the information presented in the petitions, so petitions are rarely denied out of simple caution and concern for the alleged victim. The respondents do not to be present when a judge is considering a temporary injunction.
When the court decides whether to issue a final order of injunction for the petitioner, a judge will consider any testimony, evidence, and/or witnesses presented by the petitioner and the respondent. If a judge issues a final order of injunction for the petitioner, it may be in effect for a set period of time or have no expiration date.
An injunction for protection can order a respondent to do any of the following:
Broward County Clerk of Courts | Domestic Violence Frequently Asked Questions — Visit this section of the Broward County Clerk of Courts website to find the answers to many frequently asked questions about domestic violence and restraining orders. You can learn how to obtain a restraining order, what happens after you eFile your petition on a domestic violence matter, and what the Pro Se Self Help Unit is. You can also download the forms for various domestic violence injunctions.
Broward County Clerk of Courts
Broward County Central Courthouse
201 SE 6th St.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Information on Restraining Orders | Broward Sheriff's Office — On this section of the Broward Sheriff's Office website, you can learn more about the restraining order process in Broward County. Learn how to obtain a restraining order and who needs to know about the restraining order. You can also find additional information on protecting yourself and your family following the issuance of a restraining order.
Broward Sheriff's Office
2601 W. Broward Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
Have you been served in Broward County with any kind of petition for an injunction for protection? You have the right to legal counsel at your hearing, and Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can fight to protect all of your rights.
Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense lawyers in Fort Lauderdale who represent individuals in Sunrise, Deerfield Beach, Weston, Tamarac, Margate, Coconut Creek, Hallandale Beach, Wilton Manors, and several other nearby communities in South Florida.
Call (954) 745-7457 or complete an online contact form to have our attorneys review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.
This article was last updated on Friday, November 3, 2017.
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