In Florida, a person who has been accused of domestic violence may be served with a court order that prohibits further contact and other specific conduct, like going within a certain distance of the victim or owning a firearm. This injunction, often referred to as a restraining order, is legally enforceable and a violation could result in jail time, fines, and other penalties.
Here, we will take a look at what consequences you might face if you’re found guilty of violating a restraining order in Florida—and review your legal rights and options in the face of an accusation.
How Are Restraining Orders Violated?
Restraining orders not only prohibit certain conduct but may also lay out requirements for persons accused of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, stalking, and/or harassment. You can learn more about these injunctions in our blog: How Florida Restraining Orders Work.
A restraining order is violated when the person named in the order:
- Does something that is prohibited by the order; or
- Fails to do something that is required by the order.
The following are examples of restraining order violations:
- Coming within 500 feet of the alleged victim.
- Refusing to leave a home shared with the alleged victim.
- Returning to a home once shared with the alleged victim.
- Contacting the alleged victim in any way, by phone, email, text, etc.
- Committing a new act of violence against the alleged victim.
- Refusing to disclose and surrender a firearm or ammunition to the court.
- Obtaining or possessing a firearm or ammunition.
- Failing to pay court-ordered support.
- Failing to attend court-ordered counseling.
- Defacing or destroying the alleged victim’s property.
- Threatening the alleged victim.
Penalties for Restraining Order Violations
Violating a restraining order is a misdemeanor of the first degree in Florida, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,500. A third or subsequent violation of a restraining order is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. You could even face additional penalties for a separate crime, like committing a new act of domestic violence.
A person found guilty of a restraining order violation in Florida may also have to pay economic damages to the alleged victim, if he or she sustained any type of injury or loss as a result of the violation. This may include the payment of attorneys’ fees and other costs to enforce the restraining order.
Your Rights & Options
If you’ve been accused of violating a restraining order, you have the right to an attorney. You have the right to a hearing where you can present your case and show that you did not commit the alleged violation. As Tampa criminal defense attorneys, we have seen far too many instances of people being wrongfully accused of restraining order violations and other crimes simply because they’re viewed as “criminals” or “abusers.” We’ve seen restraining orders obtained for frivolous reasons, through jealousy or even in underhanded attempts to gain custody or restrict parental rights.
At Thomas & Paulk, P.A., our lawyers have successfully represented thousands of clients in the face of criminal charges of all kinds, from first-time DUIs to serious sex crimes and violent crimes. Allegations of a restraining order violation can ruin your life, putting you at risk of jail time and other penalties. Assert your rights and contact our attorneys to find out how we can help you. Your initial consultation is free and confidential—call (813) 321-7323 today!