It now takes less time to serve an injunction in Florida because a new law requires court clerks to email protective orders to sheriff’s departments instead of sending them by mail. The measure is being hailed as good news for victims of intimate partner violence.
Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence (including repeat violence, dating violence, and sexual violence) or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence can file a petition for a protective injunction, also known as a restraining order. Court clerks would routinely send approved injunctions via US mail, which could mean it might take days or even weeks for law enforcement to serve an injunction.
Under recently passed legislation, court clerks are now required to email the protective order to county sheriff’s departments instead of mailing or faxing the documents. Florida’s domestic violence Statute 741.30 now states that “within 24 hours after the court issues an injunction for protection against domestic violence, the clerk of the court shall electronically transmit a copy” to the sheriff, “who shall serve it upon the respondent as soon thereafter as possible on any day of the week and at any time of the day or night.”
The new email requirement also applies to Florida Statute 784.0485 providing for filing injunctions against stalking, and Florida Statute 784.046 pertaining to repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence.
It Takes Less Time to Serve an Injunction
The change reflects concerns that victims of Intimate Partner Violence were being exposed to unnecessary risk due to the time it takes for an injunction to reach law enforcement through the mail.
“This bill makes a simple change to the domestic violence injunction or restricting order filing process, which could have a huge impact on the safety of the petitioner, or the domestic violence survivor,” State Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa), told the Florida Bar News. “These injunctions for protections were actually being dropped in the U.S. mail, so four or five days there, four or five days for processing, we’re talking about 10 days before a sheriff can serve an injunction and do something about someone who shows up and threatens a woman or a man.”
Generally, anyone who has been physically assaulted or feels threatened by another person can file for an order of protection that will require that the perpetrator stay away from the victim and cease all contact.
The person filing for the injunction submits a petition to Florida Family Law Court stating that the perpetrator (respondent) committed or threatened to commit acts of domestic violence, defined by Florida law 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…”
The petition form has a checklist of other violent or threatening behaviors as well as a space for the petitioner to write a brief narrative description of the latest offensive behavior by the respondent.
In granting a petition, a judge can order whatever measures “the court deems necessary for the protection of the petitioner.” Among other measures, the judge can order the respondent to not contact the petitioner, maintain a specific distance from the petitioner’s home, school, workplace, car, or any other location frequented by the petitioner, surrender any firearms and ammunition they may have, and move out of a shared residence.
Once the judge grants the petition, the clerk sends the order to local law enforcement, which will then serve an injunction against the respondent.
- Fighting Injunctions in Florida
While most people file injunctions in Florida because they legitimately need protection from violence, many people abuse restraining orders. Highly emotional personal relationships can lead domestic or romantic partners to have the sheriff serve an injunction as a way to get even.
A judge may impose a temporary restraining order solely based on the alleged victim’s statement in the petition without hearing from the accused party. In most situations, the respondent is unaware of the injunction until the sheriff hands him (or her) court papers. You may be required to immediately leave the residence you share with the petitioner even if your name is on the lease or you own the home.
The sheriff will serve an injunction, then give you a few minutes to gather your possessions before ordering you to leave, and to refrain from contacting the petitioner in any way. You may be barred from visiting or communicating with your children.
- When Law Serves an Injunction
A temporary restraining order is in effect for 15 days and when they serve an injunction, you are given notice of a date for a final injunction hearing at which the judge can decide to make it permanent. Injunctions are public record and will appear on background checks. These records can never be sealed or expunged, and they will follow you for the rest of your life. It can make it difficult to get or keep a job. You can lose your right to own a firearm or ammunition. An injunction can work against you in divorce proceedings, custody disputes, and support payment judgments.
That’s why, if you need to defend yourself against false allegations, it’s important to consult with an experienced Orlando Injunction Lawyer who knows how to fight for your rights. By thoroughly investigating all of the accusations, your lawyer may uncover inconsistencies and contradictions in the accuser’s claims. An attorney may be able to use information like text messages, cell phone data, pictures, or witness testimony to demonstrate to the court that the charges against you are false.
It may be possible to get an injunction removed through a motion to dismiss a temporary injunction or a motion to dissolve a permanent injunction. And If the accusations are proven false, you may be able to recover attorneys fees and costs associated with your defense.