Florida has several types of restraining orders, otherwise known as civil injunctions, including, an injunction for protection against domestic violence (“DVI”), an injunction for protection against dating violence, an injunction for protection against stalking, and an injunction for protection against repeat violence. Each of the aforementioned injunctions prohibits the person against whom the injunction has been entered (the “Respondent”) from making contact with the person seeking the injunction (the “Petitioner”) through, among other methods, direct speech, third party contact, e-mail, text messaging, or being within a set proximity of the Petitioner or the Petitioner's home, place of employment, or automobile.
Sadly, the civil injunction is one of the most abused areas of Florida law, as Petitioners frequently use the civil injunction statute as sword to effect vengeance or gain an advantage in family court instead of the intended use as a shield against legitimate threats. To obtain a civil injunction, the Petitioner must first file an emergency petition requesting one; and if the petition is legally sufficient, then the court will enter a temporary order granting the injunction (“Temporary Injunction”). The Respondent does not have the right to notice of the Petitioner's allegations or request for a civil injunction; however the court must schedule a final hearing/trial within 15 days of the date of the Temporary Injunction to allow the Respondent the opportunity to tell the court his/her side of the story. Notably, the court's failure to schedule a timely final hearing constitutes a violation of the Respondent's due process rights. Once the Temporary Injunction is in place, the Respondent must immediately cease all forms of contact with the Petitioner. Then, at the conclusion of the final hearing, the court will enter an order either dismissing the Temporary Injunction, or granting thereby ordering a Permanent Injunction. If the Temporary Injunction is dismissed, then the Respondent may resume contact with the Petitioner; however if the Temporary Injunction is permanently granted, then the Respondent will continue to be prohibited from having any contact with the Petitioner. Moreover, if the Respondent violates the court's Temporary or Permanent Injunction, then he/she can be arrested and charged with a crime.
While an injunction is a civil matter, a violation thereof is a crime; and therefore if the Respondent communicates with the Petitioner in violation of a Temporary or Permanent Injunction, then he/she may be arrested, charged with a crime, spend time in jail, and pay large fines. Additionally, the presence of a civil injunction may negatively affect the Respondent's career and suspends several of the Respondent's civil rights, including, among other things, the right to possess a firearm.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you are served with a court order granting a civil injunction against you, then it is imperative that you consult with an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can provide valuable insight and direction by, among other things, reviewing evidence, deposing witnesses (including the petitioner), interviewing witnesses to support your case, and representing you in court.