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Injunctions for Domestic Violence

An alleged victim of any act of domestic violence or a person who has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of being subject to domestic violence can ask a court for an injunction for protection against domestic violence. The individual submitting the request is known as the petitioner. The person against whom the order for protection is being sought is referred to as the respondent. 

An initial hearing relating to a temporary conjunction may be held without the respondent being present, but the alleged offender will be served notice of the date for a return hearing at which a final injunction may be issued. 

It is important to understand that an injunction for protection is a lawful court order, so a person must abide by all requirements of the order—regardless of which aspects he or she might disagree with—or face serious criminal penalties for any violation.

Lawyer for Injunctions for Domestic Violence in St. Petersburg, FL

Have you been served notice about an injunction for protection against domestic violence being sought against you or were you arrested in the Tampa Bay area for allegedly violating a domestic violence injunction? Make sure you contact Morris Law Firm, P.A. as soon as possible. 

St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney Melinda Morris defends clients in communities all over Pinellas County, such as Pinellas Park, Dunedin, Clearwater, Largo, and many others. 

You can have our lawyer review your case and help you understand all of your legal options when you call (727) 388-4736 to receive a free, confidential consultation.

Florida Injunctions for Domestic Violence Information Center

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Domestic Violence Injunction Hearings in Pinellas County

Florida Statute § 741.28(2) defines domestic violence as “any 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.” A family or household member is defined under Florida Statute § 741.28(3) as meaning: 

  • Spouses; 
  • Former spouses; 
  • Persons related by blood or marriage; 
  • Persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family; and 
  • Persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. 

Except for persons who have a child in common, family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit. 

In determining whether a petitioner has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, the court must consider all relevant factors alleged in the petition. Here is a list of examples. 

  • The history between the petitioner and the respondent, including threats, harassment, stalking, and physical abuse. 
  • Whether the respondent has attempted to harm the petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with the petitioner. 
  • Whether the respondent has threatened to conceal, kidnap, or harm the petitioner’s child or children. 
  • Whether the respondent has intentionally injured or killed a family pet. 
  • Whether the respondent has used, or has threatened to use, against the petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives. 
  • Whether the respondent has physically restrained the petitioner from leaving the home or calling law enforcement. 
  • Whether the respondent has a criminal history involving violence or the threat of violence. 
  • The existence of a verifiable order of protection issued previously or from another jurisdiction. 
  • Whether the respondent has destroyed personal property, including, but not limited to, telephones or other communications equipment, clothing, or other items belonging to the petitioner.
  • Whether the respondent engaged in any other behavior or conduct that leads the petitioner to have reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. 

If the facts contained in a petition convince the judge that the petitioner is a victim of domestic violence or in imminent danger of domestic violence, the judge will sign a Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence. Temporary (also called ex parte) injunctions can be issued without any notice to respondents. 

Temporary injunctions take effect immediately after respondents have been served their copies. A temporary injunction remains in effect until a full hearing can be held or for 15 days, whichever comes first.

If a judge issues a final injunction, it may have a set period of time that it remains in effect or it may have no expiration date. When an injunction is set to expire, the petitioner can file a motion for an extension that provides an additional one year of protection.

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Domestic Violence Injunction Violation Penalties in St. Petersburg

Under Florida Statute § 741.31(4)(a), a person willfully violates an injunction for protection against domestic violence by: 

  • refusing to vacate the dwelling that the parties share; 
  • going to, or being within 500 feet of, the petitioner’s residence, school, place of employment, or a specified place frequented regularly by the petitioner and any named family or household member; 
  • committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner; 
  • committing any other violation of the injunction through an intentional unlawful threat, word, or act to do violence to the petitioner; 
  • telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner directly or indirectly, unless the injunction specifically allows indirect contact through a third party; 
  • knowingly and intentionally coming within 100 feet of the petitioner’s motor vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is occupied; 
  • defacing or destroying the petitioner’s personal property, including the petitioner’s motor vehicle; or 
  • refusing to surrender firearms or ammunition if ordered to do so by the court. 

Any of the above violations is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Florida Statute § 741.31(4)(b) also makes it a first-degree misdemeanor for a person to violate a final injunction for protection against domestic violence by having in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm or ammunition. 

If an alleged offender has two or more prior convictions for violation of an injunction, any subsequent violation is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. 

Chapter 8.18 of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions establishes that in order for a person to be convicted of violating an injunction for protection against domestic violence, the prosecutor must prove both of the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt: 

  • A temporary or final injunction for protection against domestic violence was issued by a court against the alleged offender for the benefit of the alleged victim; and 
  • The alleged offender willfully violated the injunction by an alleged violation of Florida Statute § 741.31(4)(a). 

Willfully is defined in the jury instructions as meaning “knowingly, intentionally, and purposely.” In several cases, a person accused of violating an injunction may be able to have his or her criminal charges dismissed if he or she can prove that an alleged violation was completely unintended (such as an innocent encounter with a petitioner in a public place).

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Florida Injunctions for Domestic Violence Resources

Domestic and Repeat Violence | Pinellas County, FL | Clerk of the Circuit Court — Visit the website of the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court to learn more about filing a petition for an injunction for protection. The website also has information about violations of injunctions, contempt of injunctions, and modifications to injunctions. You can also learn more about extension and dismissal of injunctions.

Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court
315 Court St.
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 464-7000

Know Your Legal Rights | Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) — CASA is the official 501(c)(3) domestic violence center based in southern Pinellas County, FL. On this section of CASA’s website, you can download a PDF document about your legal rights in domestic violence cases. Learn more ab out the injunction for protection process and how to make a safety plan.

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Find an Injunctions for Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in St. Petersburg, FL

If you were arrested for allegedly violating a domestic violence injunction or you have been served notice about a hearing for an injunction against domestic violence in the Tampa Bay area, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents individuals in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, and Pasco County. 

Melinda Morris is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg who has handled these cases on the other side of the aisle as a former Domestic Violence Division Prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas County. 

Call (727) 388-4736 or submit an online contact form to have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.

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