In Florida, without you even knowing about it, a judge can make a ruling against you that upends your life, ruins your reputation, and threatens your livelihood. One day, out of the blue, a sheriff’s deputy comes waving papers with your name on them. All of a sudden, and for no good reason, you are ordered to stay away from your wife and kids, find someplace else to live, and get all your stuff out of your own house. Right now.
A Restraining Order or Injunction for Protection is meant to protect someone who feels threatened by violence from someone else. But sometimes a person will get one for the wrong reasons, unfairly targeting an innocent person to get leverage in a divorce or other legal battle. A person wanting to get an injunction for malicious purposes has several advantages over the person they are targeting. A judge can grant one against you without even hearing your side of the story. Since a restraining order is issued from a civil court, the burden of proof is not as great as it is in a criminal court. If the Petitioner, the person who asks for it, can convince the court that he or she feels threatened, there’s a good chance they’ll grant it.
The Orlando Restraining Order Attorneys at the Rivas law Firm help get restraining orders for victims who need protection – and for those who have been victimized by false allegations. If you need a restraining order to protect yourself and your family – or if you have been served with an unfair protective injunction – call 407-644-2466 or use our Online Contact Form for a free consultation with our Civil Litigation team.
What is an Injunction?
A Restraining Order or Injunction for Protection is when a judge orders a person to not threaten or commit any act of violence against someone else. As opposed to criminal courts, these types of protective orders are issued by civil courts, in this case, Florida’s Family Law Court. The person on the receiving end of the order is called the Respondent. The law allows a judge to order whatever measures “the court deems necessary for the protection of the petitioner.”
That means the judge can order a respondent to:
- Surrender any guns and ammunition in their possession.
- Leave a shared home or apartment.
- Have no contact with the petitioner.
- Keep a certain distance away from the petitioner’s residence, school, place of employment, car, or place regularly frequented by the petitioner, or any named family or household member.
In addition to injunctions for protection against domestic violence, victims of violence outside household or family settings can apply for protective orders in various situations, including cases of:
- Sexual Violence
- Dating Violence
- Repeat Violence
What Happens if Someone puts a Restraining Order on You?
Generally, the spouse or partner who is the alleged victim in a domestic violence case will go to the courthouse or fill out a form (petition) online. The petition asks the judge to issue an injunction against the Respondent – the person who allegedly threatened or committed violent acts. The aim is to protect the petitioner from further acts of violence.
A judge can issue a temporary restraining order based solely on the victim’s statement in the petition. The accused need not be present and in most cases will not even know about an injunction until the sheriff hands him (or her) papers. At that point, you may have to vacate the residence you share with the petitioner – even if you own the home.
The sheriff will give you a little time to collect your belongings and then you have to leave your house and are forbidden from contacting the petitioner in any way. You may be prevented from seeing or contacting your children.
The court will schedule a hearing to take place within 15 days to decide whether to lift the restraining order or make it permanent.
What Happens at a Court Hearing for a Restraining Order?
At this hearing, the judge will hear testimony from the respondent and the petitioner. You need to appear at the hearing to present your side of the story. If you aren’t represented, all of the accuser’s charges will be accepted as fact, and you will have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life.
If the judge issues a permanent injunction, there may be a Compliance Hearing within 30-45 days to make sure you are following the rules. You may be able to have this hearing canceled if you can show you have been in compliance.
You are not required to have a lawyer present for these hearings. But your chances of having the injunction thrown out or altered in your favor are greatly improved if you are represented in court by a defense attorney experienced in fighting domestic violence injunctions.
Different Types of Restraining Orders
The law defines violence as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, or false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death, by a person against any other person.”
There are five categories of violence for injunctions for protection:
Domestic Violence: Specific to members of a household, defined in Florida Statute 741.28(3) as “spouses; former spouses; persons related by blood or marriage (including minors); any person who is or was residing within a single dwelling with petitioner as if a family; or a person with whom the petitioner has a child in common (regardless of marriage or cohabitation).
Dating Violence: According toFlorida Statute 784.046(1)(d) “’Dating Violence’ means violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”
Repeat Violence: Florida Statute 784.046(1)(b) says is “two incidents of violence or stalking committed, one of which must have been within 6 months of the petition.”
Sexual Violence: Florida Statute 784.046(1)(c) defines sexual violence as “any incident of sexual battery, lewd or lascivious acts committed on or in the presence of a person younger than 16, luring or enticing a child, sexual performance by a child, or any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted.”
Stalking: Although the law includes stalking in the definition of violence for the purposes of a Restraining Order, it is also a crime under Florida Statute 748.048, which is committed by “A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person…”
Injunctions have Serious Consequences
Injunctions are public record and show up on background checks. These records can never be sealed or expunged and can affect you for the rest of your life. It can hurt your chances of getting or keeping a job. According to Florida law (§ 790.233, Florida Statutes), you can lose your right to possess a firearm or ammunition. An injunction can adversely affect you in divorce proceedings, custody battles, and support payment determinations. That’s why it’s vital to contact an Orlando defense attorney with experience fighting protection orders and defending domestic violence charges.
Talk to the Orlando Protection Order Defense Attorneys at the Rivas law Firm if you have been served with a Restraining Order. We can also help if you need to get an injunction to protect yourself. Call 407-644-2466 or use our Online Contact Form for a free consultation.