Petitioning for an Injunction for Protection from Domestic Violence in Florida
A very brief summary of important tips for presenting an effective petition for a domestic violence injunction in Florida Courts.
START SIMPLE, START STRONGThe most critical piece of advice in filing an effective domestic violence petition is to begin with a list of simple statements of violations of the law, if applicable, and the exact dates and times of each. For example, if the Respondent waved a knife at the Petitioner in a threatening manner in the living room, the worst way to present this is to introduce the dispute, describe other people involved and their concerns, and go through a timeline of the day leading up to the encounter with parenthetical notes regarding the history of the argument's subject matter. Do not do this.
Judges are human beings with tremendous case loads. They have neither the time nor the desire to hunt through several pages to determine whether your allegations are sufficient to merit the entry of a temporary injunction.
Continuing the example above, the very first thing in the Petition ought to be "On March 23, 2018, at approximately 4:00 p.m., the Respondent waved a knife in my face in a threatening manner." If there are other relevant acts of violence, they go next before any elaboration whatsoever as to the initial allegation. List them. "On February 23, 2018, at approximately 3:30 p.m., the Respondent shoved me in the chest." Only after completing this sort of list should the Petitioner go on to provide any elaboration or details. Limit your elaboration to only one extra page, and even that is pushing it. The judge and/or opposing counsel will ask whatever questions they like to get whatever details they like at the hearing.
BACK THAT FACT UPBring documents. In today's age, everyone's relationships are accompanied by a paper trail of some kind. Texts, chats, emails, and even records of telephone calls can provide important corroboration that can change the tide of which side a court finds credible. Remember that for evidence to be admitted and considered by the Court, the Clerk must take possession of it. If the only place your evidence can be found is on your phone, your phone must be permanently given to the Court. Print out whatever you can so that you can submit a piece of paper instead.
Bring witnesses. Bring warm mammalian bodies even if they are not witnesses and have them sit with you. There is no such thing as too many people in your corner in injunction court.
STAY CALM AND ANSWER THE QUESTIONIt is impossible to overstate how harmful it can be to one's case to become emotional. Courts are designed to consider facts. Nearly all the rules of evidence are designed to restrict presentations to facts rather than emotion and speculation. Emotions, particularly anger, generally causes judges to tune out the speaker.
When asked a question, if your answer is longer than two sentences, you are likely saying too much. Answer the question as briefly as you can, and be cautious about answering more than the question you were asked.