Many people who are served with petitions for injunction for protection (commonly referred to as restraining orders) mistakenly believe that these are not serious matters because they involve civil orders not handled in a traditional criminal court. The consequences of such an injunction, however, can be quite serious and have profound impact on many of a person’s basic rights.
Injunction hearings involve a much lower standard of proof than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” necessary for convictions in criminal court—and injunctions may even be granted in cases in which criminal charges were dismissed or never filed. Failure to attend a hearing will result in a judge entering a final injunction without any input from the alleged offender, and attempting to modify or dissolve an injunction can be a long and laborious task.
If you have been served with any kind of petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence or a related matter, you should immediately seek legal representation for help protecting your freedom. Terrezza Law understands how restraining orders are often used as weapons in contentious divorce or child custody proceedings.
Pensacola criminal defense attorney John Terrezza serves residents of Gulf Breeze, Pensacola Beach, Navarre, Milton, and many other communities in the greater Pensacola area. Call (850) 764-5291 or complete an online contact form right now to take advantage of a free consultation that will let our lawyer review your case.
In cases of domestic violence, an alleged victim can seek an injunction for protection. In these cases, the alleged victim is referred to as the petitioner and the alleged offender is referred to as the respondent.
After a petition has been filed, a judge will review the petition and do one of three things:
Courts rarely deny petitions as most judges prefer to err on the side of caution, but alleged victims are still able to submit supplemental petitions with new information in the event that the original petitions are denied. At hearings for injunctions for protection, judges will consider testimony, evidence, and witnesses presented by both the petitioners and the respondents.
If a judge decided to issue a final order of injunction for the petitioner, it may be in effect for a set period of time or it may be without an expiration date. If an injunction is granted, the court may order the respondent to do any of the following:
Escambia County essentially has five types of injunctions for protection. Each injunction involves different elements.
Petitioners may seek injunctions for protection against domestic violence if they were the victims of domestic violence or have reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger of becoming victims of any act of domestic violence. Under Florida Statute § 741.28(2), domestic violence is defined as any:
Family or household member means 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.
Petitioners can seek injunctions for protection against repeat violence if they have been victims of or were threatened with at least two acts of domestic violence. One of the acts must have been within six months of the filing.
Petitioners do not have to be family or household members in order to file for injunctions for protection against repeat violence. Thus, these orders are commonly sought by petitioners who many not qualify for injunctions for protection against domestic violence.
Petitioners can seek injunctions for protection against dating violence if they have been victims an act of domestic violence. The petitioner and the respondent must have or had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature within the previous six months that included an expectation of affection or sexual involvement.
Petitioners can seek injunctions for protection against sexual violence if they have been victims of one of the following acts:
The alleged sexual violence needs to have been reported to a law enforcement agency and that the petitioner is required to cooperate in the investigation. The injunction for protection against sexual violence can be issued even if the criminal charges were reduced or dismissed.
Petitioners can seek injunctions for protection against stalking if respondents have willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed, harassed, or cyberstalked the petitioners. Harass is defined under Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(a) as “to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose,” and a course of conduct is defined under Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(b) as “a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose.”
Domestic Violence | Clerk of the Court — Victims of domestic violence file petitions for injunctions with the Family Law Division of the Escambia County Clerk of the Circuit Court. The Clerk’s website contains brochures with information for petitioners and respondents. You can find answers to frequently asked questions and download certain forms on this website.
Clerk of the Circuit Court
Family Law Division
Room 23012 - Second Floor
190 West Government Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
Florida Statute § 741.30 — View the full text of the state law governing injunctions for protection against domestic violence. The statute covers what information needs to be in petitions, hearing processes, and enforcement of violations of injunctions.
Have you been served with a restraining order in Florida? Appearing at a hearing without legal counsel could be a huge mistake with very long-term consequences.
John Terrezza of Terrezza Law is a criminal defense attorney in Pensacola who defends clients accused of domestic violence offenses in Walton County, Okaloosa County, Escambia County, and Santa Rosa County. He can provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (850) 764-5291 or fill out an online contact form to arrange a free, confidential consultation.