Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders
Domestic violence is a serious situation that requires immediate intervention. If you are the victim of domestic violence, there are steps that can be taken to ensure your safety and the safety of others who might be involved. The most important thing to do is to make sure that you call 911 as soon as the violence occurs, if at all possible.
Florida defines domestic violence as any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense that results in personal injury or death. This must be committed by a family or household member against another family or household member.
Additionally, Florida law defines family or household member as well. The definitions according to Florida statute are:
current or former spouses
1). persons related by blood or marriage
2). persons currently or formerly residing together as if a family,
3). parents who have a child in common, regardless of whether they were at any time married
Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence or believes that they are at risk for becoming one has the right to petition the court for protection. The fact that you have left the household to avoid the violence or abuse does not affect this right.
The first step in obtaining this order is to contact the clerk of court or your local law enforcement agency. They will provide you with the necessary forms and assistance in correctly finishing them. Once these are completed and approved by the court, you will receive a preliminary protection of a restraining order for up to 15 days.
The person the restraining order is against will then be served a copy of that restraining order by a sheriff’s deputy. Once served, if any unlawful contact is made, he or she will be subject to arrest. If the person you have a restraining order against violates that order, you must contact the police immediately. Advise the responding officer(s) that you have a restraining order. Be sure to keep a copy of the order in an easily accessible place to show the police.
Within 15 days of applying for the restraining order, a hearing before a judge will be scheduled. The judge will hear both sides of the case in order to make a decision as to whether the restraining order should remain in effect and for how long. It is very important that you attend this hearing in order to continue the restraining order. Failure to attend will result in the judge dissolving the restraining order.
Once the restraining order is obtained, you must also refrain from contact with the party that the order is against. Though the order does not prevent you from having voluntary contact with the other person, doing so may jeopardize your chances of enforcing that restraining order. It can also affect your ability to secure another restraining order in the future.
It is always a good idea to have an attorney accompany you to this hearing. A skilled attorney like Mr. Frances will be able to present a concise and powerful presentation of all relevant facts in your case to help secure the protections you need while you undergo your divorce or separation.