Injunctions and Restraining Orders
In Florida, those who have been the victims of specific kinds of violence, including sexual violence, are granted certain protections under Fla. Stat. 784.046. One of these protections is known as an Injunction for Protection but is more commonly referred to as a Protective Order. These orders prohibit the victim’s aggressor from coming within 500 feet of their person and from contacting them in any way.
Requesting an Injunction
Victims can request an injunction for protection in cases of:
Those who have been the victim of repeat domestic violence can seek an injunction against further violence on behalf of themselves as well as any minor children living at home as long as there is evidence that two incidents of violence have been committed by the accused, one of which was within the last six months. However, before victims of dating violence can receive an injunction, they must be able to establish that the accused and the petitioner have or have had a continuing and significant romantic relationship. Whether this type of relationship exists will be decided by the court who will look at a number of factors, including:
- Repeat violence
- Dating violence
- Sexual violence
Excluded from the definition is any type of violence that has occurred in a casual acquaintanceship or in a social or business context.
- Whether a dating relationship existed within the last six months
- Whether the nature of the relationship was characterized by the expectation of sexual involvement or affection between the parties
- Whether the frequency and type of interactions between the accused and the petitioner indicate that the two were involved in a relationship over a period of time and on a continuous basis.
Sexual Violence Defined
A person who is the victim of sexual violence can file a petition for an injunction if:
An injunction for protection will only be granted in cases involving allegations of sexual violence if the violent acts fall under one of the following categories:
- The petitioner has reported the sexual violence to law enforcement and is cooperating in a criminal proceeding against the accused, regardless of whether criminal charges have been filed or dismissed
- The accused was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for sexual violence on a prior occasion and his or her term has expired or is set to expire within 90 days
Although parents and legal guardians are permitted to petition the court for an injunction on behalf of a minor the petitioner must provide proof that he or she has:
- Sexual battery
- A lewd or lascivious act committed upon or in the presence of a minor who is under the age of 16 years old
- Luring or enticing a child
- Sexual performance by a child
- Any other forcible felony that involves the commission or attempt of a sexual act
- Seen or has direct physical evidence or affidavits from other eyewitnesses of prior incidents of violence, if the petition is filed against the child’s other parent or guardian
- Reasonable cause to believe that the minor is the victim of repeat sexual or dating violence at the hands of a third party that is not the child’s parent
Courts are willing to grant temporary injunctions when there is evidence of an immediate and present danger of violence. These temporary orders are only effective for 15 days, at which time the parties will be required to attending a hearing. As long as the petitioner can show good cause, the injunction can either be terminated or extended at that time.
Powers of an Injunction
When granting an injunction, the court can provide specific kinds of relief, including:
Injunctions of protection remain in effect until the term included on the injunction has expired. In some cases, courts order injunctions to remain in full force on a permanent basis. These types of injunctions of protection will remain effective until they are modified or dissolved by the court. Although either the petitioner or the respondent can request a modification, no changes will go into effect unless the court agrees to the amendments. Violating the terms of an injunction can have serious consequences, including first-degree misdemeanor charges, a one-year jail sentence, one year of probation, and a $1,000 fine.
- Prohibiting the respondent from committing further acts of violence
- Prohibiting the respondent from accessing the petitioner’s home
- Granting the petitioner sole custody of any minor children in a temporary parenting plan
- Requiring the respondent to provide temporary support for any children
- Ordering the respondent to participate in a treatment program
- Ordering that the respondent be arrested and held in police custody if he or she violates the injunction
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