Personal Protection Injunctions 101
If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, your alleged victim may seek to obtain a personal protection injunction (formerly known as a restraining order) to help ensure their safety. However, Florida law provides for five different types of injunctions, so it is crucial to understand which one applies in your case, lest you unintentionally violate the injunction and find yourself in even more trouble than you are already.
Multiple Types of Injunctions
Five different types of personal protection injunctions may seem like overkill, as the details of the categories can overlap. However, the categories remain because making so many divisions can help cases get processed more quickly – there are only so many dockets, and petitions for injunctions are always time-sensitive. The five types of injunctions are:
- Domestic violence. This is for those who are living together (or formerly did) or who have a child in common. The petitioner must be able to show that you are a victim of domestic violence or there is ‘immediate danger’ of them becoming a victim. Domestic violence injunctions also require certain things – namely, that the respondent must leave any shared dwelling, and if the injunction becomes permanent, they must surrender any kind of guns and ammunition;
- Repeat violence. This is the appropriate injunction if the petitioner or one of their family members has endured at least two separate acts of violence or stalking, with one being in the past six months. You do not have to live together or have any prior relationship;
- Dating violence. You must either be in a relationship or have been in one during the past 6 months, that has an “expectation of affection.” Violence must have already occurred, or they must show they are in immediate danger of becoming a victim of violence;
- Sexual violence, which includes specific offenses like sexual battery or luring or enticing a child. This is the only type of injunction that specifically requires the petitioner cooperate with law enforcement after filing their petition; and
- Two or more incidents of stalking or cyberstalking must have occurred.
A domestic violence injunction has perhaps the most requirements and specifications, but also offers the most concrete protection if your case qualifies. If your alleged victim files for and obtains a domestic violence injunction against you, you are required to vacate the home you share with them, as well as staying a certain distance away from them (and in some cases, any children you have in common).
After The Filing
If your alleged victim has petitioned for a domestic violence injunction against you, the court may issue the injunction ‘ex parte’ if there is reason to believe that there is immediate danger for the petitioner. Assuming there is none, a hearing will be scheduled to determine whether or not the injunction should be granted. It is important that you understand that the hearing is solely to determine whether or not the injunction should be granted; it is not a venue in which to plead your case.
Keep in mind that willfully violating a domestic violence injunction is a first-degree misdemeanor, which does not sound like much, but when it is added to another domestic violence-related charge such as assault, battery, or sexual assault, it can be grounds to add time to the underlying sentence. Domestic violence is not a charge, per se, in Florida; it is used as a sentence enhancer, usually moving an offense up one degree. Thus, if you have been charged with the first-degree misdemeanor of domestic battery, it may be raised to a third-degree felony.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic violence is a terrifying ordeal that no one should ever have to experience. The law can help give you options, and the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can help you figure out how best to proceed. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.