Domestic violence injunctions can be filed despite the lack of any criminal charge or arrest for an actual crime. If you have been served with a temporary or permanent injunction, you have potential exposure to a criminal charge if you are accused of violating the injunction. This can be a confusing and unsettling experience — one where you likely have a good number of questions about how to proceed or what to do next.
These domestic violence injunctions, commonly referred to as “restraining orders,” hold great power and carry serious consequences for those who violate their restrictions. For that reason, we’re going to be exploring what you should and should not do in order to comply with an injunction. If you’re in need of assistance navigating the Florida court system, please get in touch with a Pinellas County domestic violence lawyer with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan.
Do Hire an Attorney to Represent You As Soon As Possible
Once you’ve received a document stating that the Florida court is initiating an injunction for domestic violence, the first and most important step is to contact a Pinellas County domestic violence attorney as soon as possible to learn about your rights and legal options. The laws governing protective orders and injunctions within the State of Florida are known for being highly complex, and violating such an injunction can lead to serious criminal charges, from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. For this reason, it’s important to act quickly to secure legal representation if someone is seeking an injunction against you. The attorneys at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan have years of experience dealing with injunctions, will work vigorously to protect your rights, and, in some cases, may even be able to protect the injunction from being issued against you. For example, an attorney may be able to represent you at the hearing and demonstrate why the court should dismiss the action and not grant the injunction.
Don’t Make Contact With the Petitioner
One of the most common mistakes made by individuals who have been served an injunction is contacting the petitioner or asking them to drop the charges. You should know that contacting the victim in any way, including passing messages through an intermediary, is considered a violation of the injunction. Doing so is a first-degree misdemeanor and can land you in much hotter water than you’re already in. This includes responding to the petitioner, even if he or she contacted you first.
Do Consider Contesting Your Domestic Violence Injunction
In some cases, especially those without a corresponding pending criminal case, it makes sense to contest or object to the entry of a Final Injunction. The process of contesting a domestic violence injunction does not vary or depend on whether or not the judge grants the petitioner a temporary injunction. In either event, you can expect to have a court hearing set within about 15 days.
It is at this hearing that the petitioner will have the opportunity to tell the judge why they want an injunction. You may likewise present evidence and provide your side of the story regarding the situation at hand. Generally speaking, the petitioner must establish that they are either a victim of domestic violence or have a reasonable basis for believing that they will become a victim of domestic violence in the near future. The judge will consider whether this has been established by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means that the court has found the evidence to establish domestic violence as more likely than not. In order to defend against the injunction, a Respondent’s lawyer may cross examine the Petitioner, call witnesses to discredit some or all of the Petitioner’s testimony, and present testimony of the Respondent, if appropriate.
Don’t Possess Any Firearms or Ammunition While the Injunction Is In Place
Under Florida Statute § 790.233, possession of a firearm or ammunition is prohibited when an individual is subjected to an injunction against committing acts of domestic violence. Any violation of this statute is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Florida Statute § 790.06 also prohibits the issuance of a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm to an individual who has been issued an injunction that is currently in force. As a result, you’ll want to avoid owning or obtaining a firearm or ammunition of any kind while the injunction is in place. If you are concerned about how a domestic violence-related offense could significantly impact your firearm rights, we highly recommend seeking legal representation as soon as possible.
If you have been charged with a violation of a domestic violence injunction, you may have defenses available to fight the charge or minimize potential penalties. Contact a highly-experienced Pinellas County domestic violence lawyer with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan for a free consultation.
For a free consultation with a Pinellas County domestic violence attorney, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.