Florida Domestic Violence Injunctions 101
If you are the victim of domestic violence, there is a proceeding available through the Court with which you can obtain a temporary and/or permanent injunction against an individual who has committed an act of domestic violence against you. Domestic violence is defined in Florida Statute 741.28 as "any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member." Florida Statute 741.30 also extends protection to individuals who have not yet actually been the victim of domestic violence but who have "reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence."
In order to obtain an injunction for protection, you would physically go to the Courthouse in your county to the injunction division and request to file an injunction. The clerk will ask you questions about your assailant as well as the events that occurred which prompted you to file the injunction. If you have photographs of your injuries, it is important to bring them with you to the injunction interview. You will also be asked to fill out a sworn written statement setting forth the facts of your case. Once you complete your interview with the clerk, the clerk will send your injunction directly to a judge for immediate review. At that point, the judge has a few options. The judge can grant the injunction on a temporary basis and order the parties back for a full evidentiary hearing usually within two weeks. If the judge grants the temporary injunction, this temporary injunction will be served on the other party by the Sheriff. The judge can deny the injunction on a temporary basis but still order the parties to return for a full evidentiary hearing. In this case, the other party will not be served with a temporary injunction; rather, they will be served with a notice to appear at the hearing. Lastly, the judge can dismiss your injunction totally, meaning that no further action will be taken by the Court on your behalf.
Assuming that your injunction is temporarily granted, you can expect to return to a Court hearing within two weeks. At this hearing, the Court will take testimony and evidence and determine whether to make the injunction permanent. The Court can and usually will determine any child support, spousal support and timesharing if appropriate. Any order entered by the Court stays in force for the duration of the injunction (usually one year) or until the Court modifies the injunction. Your are entitled to legal counsel at this hearing and we strongly suggest that you obtain counsel as far in advance of the hearing as possible.
It is important that you contest an injunction that you believe to be false, rather than not attending the hearing. A permanent injunction is recorded in the public records and will come up if an employer performs a routine background check on you.