Violating a Restraining Order
There are cases where a relationship ends due to physical, sexual, or mental cruelty by one or both parties. In these cases, a restraining order or injunction can be sought in civil court by either party. A restraining order or injunction prevents one party from making direct or indirect contact with the other party except in certain cases like appearing in court.
A person may apply for a restraining order or injunction by going to law enforcement, an attorney, or applying to the circuit court in their area. Once the application is received by the court, a judge will review it and make the decision whether a temporary restraining order or injunction should be issued until a court hearing can be scheduled. Usually, the court hearing is scheduled within 15 days of application.
At the court hearing, if the respondent (the person whom the restraining order or injunction is against) is present, the judge will hear from both sides and make a determination. If the respondent is not present, the judge will make a decision based upon the presented facts of the case.
A judge may grant a restraining order for life or for a set period of time. At the time of the decision, the judge will also make determinations regarding custody of children, if necessary.
The penalties for violating a restraining order or injunction in the state of Florida can vary. Initially, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $1000 in fines. Repeated violations may increase the penalties and potential for jail time.
In cases where violence is involved, such as stalking or assault, and battery, the violation of a restraining order can escalate the charges a person may face. For example, if a restraining order or injunction is in place and the person violating that order is charged with stalking, the charge is automatically upgraded to aggravated stalking, which could mean facing up to 15 years in prison.
In the state of Florida, if someone is accused of violating a domestic violence related injunction, the judge is required by Florida law make the violator attend a 26-week course of domestic violence counseling.
A recent news-making case of violation of an injunction involved a man who beat his estranged wife’s boyfriend with a baseball bat and then tried to set fire to the couple’s garage. The case happened in Orange Park.
According to the story, the man went to the home of the boyfriend and began beating him with a bat. The ex-wife made a 911 call, then tried to intervene. She was bitten by her ex but managed to get the bat away from him. The man continued his assault until he was hit with a cooking pot.
At this point, the man tried to get away and burn down the detached garage of the home with gasoline. The boyfriend followed the man and shot him in the leg with a shotgun. Despite the man’s injuries, he was able to set two fires before the police and paramedics came.
The man now faces numerous charges, including attempted murder, aggravated battery, arson, armed burglary, violation of an injunction, and domestic battery.
If you are served with an injunction or a restraining order, it is best to abide by the terms of the restraining order. If you believe that the restraining order is not warranted, you may challenge it through the court system. However, Florida law requires that until a decision is reached that the terms of the order be obeyed. For more questions about restraining orders and Florida family law, contact Gustavo E. Frances for a consultation.