Florida's Domestic Violence Protective Orders

Were you recently arrested for domestic violence in Tampa, or anywhere else in Hillsborough County? If so, it’s important that you learn what you are up against. As of right now, your freedom, your future, and your family are at stake. You could have a protective order filed against you, which would prohibit you from coming into contact with the alleged victim and even moving from a shared home or apartment.

In light of the serious consequences of domestic violence allegations alone, it is important to educate yourself on this criminal offense and how protective orders are involved. We have compiled some helpful information on this subject, and we welcome you to review the following. We also welcome you to contact our office at any time for a free, confidential consultation.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence refers to violent and sexually-motivated crimes between family and household members. It can include threats, harassment, and stalking. It does not have to involve “actual physical contact” to constitute domestic violence.

Under Sec. 741.28(2) of the Florida Statutes, domestic violence includes assault and aggravated assault, battery and aggravated battery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment, which is where you forcibly restrain or confine a person against their will.

Usually a domestic violence case begins after a call is placed to the police. The 911 caller can be the victim, another household or family member, or even a concerned neighbor who called the cops.

How Florida Protective Orders Are Involved

Following an arrest for domestic violence, the victim will often request an injunction, otherwise known as a protective order. A person may also request a protective order at any time following an alleged act of stalking, abuse, or other form of domestic violence—even if there is no arrest.

The purpose of a protective order in Florida is to protect a victim from further violence or harm. Depending on the conditions imposed by the court, a protective order may prohibit any contact with the victim, prohibit further acts or threats of violence, and prohibit the alleged abuser from coming within a certain distance of the victim’s home, workplace, or school.

Will the Judge Issue a Protective Order Against You?

If an alleged victim is asking the court to issue a protective order against you, first the judge must find “reasonable cause” to believe that the petitioner is in imminent danger of being harmed by you.

Before the judge can order an injunction, he or she must weigh all relevant factors that the victim alleged in their petition, such as:

  • The history between you and the petitioner, including physical violence, threats, harassment, and stalking.
  • Whether you have ever tried to harm the petitioner, their family, or their friends.
  • Whether you have threatened to kidnap or harm the petitioner’s children.
  • If you have ever abused or killed one of the family pets.
  • If you have used or threatened to use a weapon, such as a knife or gun, to injure the petitioner or another family member.
  • Whether you have ever physically barred the petitioner from leaving the house or from calling the police.
  • Whether you have a criminal history of violence.
  • If there are other restraining orders against you, including other jurisdictions.
  • Whether you have destroyed the respondent’s personal property, including communication devices.
  • If you have done something in the past that places the petitioner in reasonable fear of becoming a victim of domestic violence.

Hearsay alone should not be enough to support a protective order. You need to remember that you have the right to challenge an injunction and to present your side of the story. Even if the alleged victim claims to have evidence against you or things seem helpless, talk to an attorney about your options. You might be surprised to find out that a positive outcome is possible.

Temporary Injunctions

Once an alleged victim files a petition for protection from domestic violence, the court may decide to grant an ex parte order granting a temporary injunction (protective order). If the protective order is granted, a court will schedule a return hearing.

If a temporary injunction is granted, it will be effective for no more than 15 days under Sec. 741.30(5)(c) of the Florida Statutes. The court will then schedule a full hearing for a date before the temporary injunction expires.

A temporary injunction may include various terms. It may:

  • Order the respondent to STOP committing domestic violence.
  • Order the respondent to stay away from the petitioner.
  • Order the respondent to stay away from the family home.
  • Specify how far the respondent must stay away from the alleged victim.
  • Order the respondent to stay away from the victim’s work or school.
  • Award temporary child custody to the victim.
  • Order the respondent to surrender their firearms and ammunition.

Final Injunctions

If the court believes that the petitioner is in fact a victim of domestic violence, the court may grant a final injunction for protection against domestic violence, which can require the alleged abuser to attend counseling and substance abuse treatment, complete a batterer intervention program, and pay spousal and child support among other things.

Facing a Protective Order? You Have Options

In the face of a protective order, your future may seem uncertain. Our attorneys are former prosecutors who have handled thousands of criminal cases. We have helped people in similar situations successfully challenge protective orders, and we will create a strategy that offers you the best opportunity at a future that is not limited by a protective order or domestic violence conviction.

To learn more about Florida’s domestic violence laws and protection orders, contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. Let our former prosecutors defend your family and your future!

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