In the State of Florida, victims of domestic, sexual, and stalking violence have a variety of legal tools at their disposal that can offer significant protection from abusers and batterers.
The most recognized legal framework is an injunction, which is also known as a “restraining order.” In its fundamental form, an injunction is a court order prohibiting someone or something from doing a specific action. As it pertains to Florida, there is not a one “catch-all” injunction that covers a wide array of domestic and spousal actions. Alternatively, the legislature has adopted a system of five injunctions that provide protection from very specific actions. Due to the specificity of the injunctions, it is extremely important that individuals needing injunctive relief file the appropriate injunction with the relevant court or risk dismissal. Please call an attorney if you have any questions about this. So this begs the question “Which type of restraining order should I file?”
The following is an overview of Florida’s injunctions:
Domestic Violence Injunction- Fla. Stat. 741.30
The injunction for protection against domestic violence may be filed by an individual who is a domestic violence victim as defined in 741.28 or has a reasonable belief that they are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence. Additionally, the abuser must be a family member, live-in spouse or companion, or the parent of the victim’s child(ren).
These injunctions allow a court to provide such legal relief to the victim as it deems necessary. Relief often includes a prohibition on physical and electronic contract and the surrender of all weapons and firearms.
Repeat Violence Injunction- Fla. Stat. 784.046(1)(b)
This injunction is available who individuals who do not meet the statutory requirements (Family member, live-in spouse/companion) for the domestic violence injunction. Individuals who have been subjected to two or more incidents of violence or stalking within the last six months may file for this injunction.
Sexual Violence Injunction- Fla. Stat. 784.046(1)(c)
The sexual violence injunction is an available remedy for any individual who has been subjected to one incident of sexual battery, a lewd or lascivious act committed upon or in the presence of a person younger than 16 years of age, luring or enticing a child, sexual performance by a child, or any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted.
Dating Violence Injunction- Fla. Stat. 784.046(1)(d)
Dating violence is defined as violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. Courts will determine the existence of a relationship by analyzing the following factors:
1. A dating relationship must have existed within the past 6 months
2. The nature of the relationship must have been characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties, and
3. The frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship must have included that the persons have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.
Stalking Injunction- Fla. Stat. 784.0485
This is a fairly new injunction that is available to the victims of stalking. Unlike the other injunctions, the stalking injunction originates under a criminal statute. However, the injunction is still referenced in the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. Additionally, in Hillsborough County, hearings for stalking injunctions are heard in the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court. An individual who has been subjected to a repeat course of conduct designed to inflict substantial emotional distress may have grounds to file for a stalking injunction. How to get a stalking injunction in Florida.
As one can see, injunctions in the State of Florida are fairly complicated and provide a broad range of legal protection. For more information, please contact William S. Foley, PA.