Protective/Restraining Order in Florida
Being a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or assault is both physically and emotionally damaging and terrifying. While you may feel as though you have no options if you are at risk of harm, filing a petition for a protective order, also referred to as a restraining order, can provide the sense of security that you need.
At the office of Crystal Collins Spencer, Attorney at Law, our Florida family law attorneys can assist you in understanding the four types of protective orders in Florida, how to petition the court for a protective order, what a restraining order does, and what happens next. Please reach out to our lawyers today for the help and legal guidance that you need.
Types of Protective and Restraining Orders in Florida
In Florida, there are four types of protective and restraining orders, called injunctions, against violence that are issued by the state. These are:
- Injunctions for protection against domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined by Florida Statute Section 741.28 as “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 of one family or household member by another family or household member.” To be clear, a family member or household member does not necessarily mean people who are living in the same house or who are related by blood; the statute continues on to clarify that the definition includes those who reside together or who have resided together, spouses and former spouses, parties who have a child in common, and any persons related by blood or marriage.
- Injunctions for protection against repeat violence. For those who are victims of repeat violence committed by someone with whom the victim does not have a “family or household member” relationship, seeking a protective order is still possible – the victim will need to seek an injunction for protection against repeat violence. In order for the injunction to be issued, the victim must prove that they have been the victim of at least two incidents of violence or stalking.
- Injunctions for protection against dating violence. Merely having a dating relationship with another person does not qualify as a family or household relationship, and therefore an injunction for protection against domestic violence would not be relevant. Instead, dating violence refers to any violence between individuals who have or have had a relationship of a romantic and intimate nature.
- Injunctions for protection against sexual violence. Finally, an injunction for protection against sexual violence is designed for any person who is the victim of sexual violence, which is defined as an incident of sexual battery, a lewd act committed upon or in the presence of a minor 15 years of age or younger, a forcible felony where a sexual act is committed, or enticing a child’s sexual performance.
What Does a Restraining Order Do?
An injunction against violence can be used to seek protection against the abusive/offending party. While the exact language of a restraining order may depend on the circumstances of your case and the type of injunction you are seeking, in general, injunctions against violence can be used to:
- Order the abuser to refrain from contacting you or those you know;
- Order the abuser to stay away from your home, place of work, place of education, and other places you frequent;
- Order the abuser to stop abusing you;
- Order the abuser to move out of a shared home;
- Order the abuser to seek treatment or therapy;
- Order the abuser to not have any weapons;
- Provide you with temporary custody of any shared children;
- Order the abuser to temporarily provide you with spousal support or child support; and
- Anything else that a judge finds to be necessary for your protection.
Note that there are two types of injunctions that may be ordered: ex parte orders and final judgments. Ex parte orders are temporary orders that only last for 15 days, and that are ordered without a hearing when there is evidence that the victim is at an immediate risk of violence. A final judgment/permanent injunction, on the other hand, is issued after a hearing, and will remain in effect until changed or dismissed by the court.
How to Petition for a Protective Order in Florida
If you are a victim of domestic violence or another type of violence in Florida, the first thing that you should do is find a safe place for yourself and your children. Then, you should immediately start the process of seeking an injunction against violence. We recommend calling an attorney who can assist you with this process.
In short, the process will involve visiting the courthouse to get the necessary forms, filling out the forms accurately and in full, and filing the forms with your county clerk. Your petition will then be immediately reviewed by a judge, who will determine whether an ex parte order is necessary. The next step will be serving the petition to the abusive party, which will be done by the sheriff or a process server – you will not be responsible for personally serving the papers. After this, a hearing will follow.
During the hearing, the abuser will have an opportunity to offer a defense and you will be responsible for testifying and presenting evidence of abuse to the court. This can be very intimidating and scary – working with a lawyer who can offer support and guidance can be a huge comfort.
Call the Office of Crystal Collins Spencer, Attorney at Law Today
At the office of Crystal Collins Spencer, Attorney at Law, our Florida family law attorneys empathize with your situation and want to make sure you get the help and protection you need if you’re a victim of violence. We can help you to prepare your petition, prepare for the hearing, and understand the next steps to take, such as filing for divorce or getting custody of your children. To connect with our law firm today and get the immediate assistance you require, please send us a message, visit our law firm in person, or call us at (850) 912-8080.