Domestic Violence Protective Orders
In Florida, crimes involving domestic violence are taken very seriously and have severe consequences for those who are convicted. Because pressing charges can take time, victims of domestic violence have the option of seeking protective orders. Protective orders are injunctions that order a designated person to refrain from any contact with the petitioner, the violation of which could lead to a first-degree misdemeanor charge. If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, it is imperative that you contact an experienced attorney who can help represent your legal rights.Protective Orders
Domestic violence protective orders are specifically designed to protect victims who have certain relationships with their abusers. For instance, in order to qualify for a domestic violence protective order, the victim must be a:
- Current or former spouse;
- Relative by blood or marriage;
- Cohabitant or former cohabitant; or
- Child’s other parent.
An individual need not wait until an act of domestic violence has been committed before applying for a protective order. In Florida, someone can file a petition seeking a protective order before an act of domestic violence actually occurs, as long as that person has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence.Excluded Activities
Protective orders exclude the victim’s abuser from his or her dwelling and prohibit contact between the victim and abuser. If minor children may be at risk of abuse, protective orders can include provisions:
- Granting temporary custody visitations;
- Requiring temporary support;
- Mandating counseling; and
- Restraining the abuser from committing any acts of domestic violence.
There are two types of protective orders in Florida domestic violence situations: ex-parte temporary protective orders and general protective orders. An ex-parte temporary protective order is only effective for a maximum of 15 days and is usually granted when a court has reason to believe that the petitioner is in immediate and present danger of domestic violence. In such instances, the court will grant a protective order without first holding a hearing.
A general protective order will be valid up until the date indicated by the issuing court. The court’s determination will depend on the individual circumstances of the case, including the likelihood of violation and the safety of the petitioner.Penalties for Violation
A person who willfully violates an order of protection commits a first degree misdemeanor. Violations may occur when an abuser:
- Refuses to vacate the dwelling that the parties share;
- Goes to or within 500 feet of the victim’s residence, school, place of employment, or a specified place frequented regularly by the petitioner and any named family or household member;
- Commits an act of domestic violence against the victim;
- Commits any other violation of the injunction through an intentional unlawful threat to or act of violence against the victim;
- Telephones, contacts, or otherwise communicates with the victim directly or indirectly, unless the injunction specifically allows indirect contact through a third party;
- Knowingly and intentionally comes within 100 feet of the victim’s motor vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is occupied;
- Defaces or destroys the victim’s personal property, including a motor vehicle; or
- Refuses to surrender firearms or ammunition if ordered to do so by the court.
Penalties include up to one year in jail and the payment of a $1,000 fine. Furthermore, if a person suffers an injury or loss as a result of the violation, he or she may be awarded economic damages by the court, including court costs and attorneys’ fees.
If you have been the victim of domestic violence, please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.