How to file a stalking injunction in Florida
On October 1, 2012, Florida supplemented its list of available civil injunctions with a new independent injunction for stalking.
This stand-alone injunction for victims of stalking offers a new civil protective remedy that is specifically tailored to protect those who have been affected by stalking. Stalking was previously an offense that could allow a court to issue an injunction.
So, the question remains: How will this injunction influence the current landscape of civil injunctions?
The short answer is that the addition of this injunction will not have an immense impact from a legal perspective; rather, there will be another category in which to file an injunction in Florida. This is simply because – as mentioned above – other injunctions were in place that explicitly offered protection to individuals who are victims of stalking.
Still, the addition of this injunction is an important legislative achievement, for it shows how serious stalking has become and shows that lawmakers are taking important steps to protect the public by directly recognizing the prevalence of stalking in society.
The injunction is no doubt a viable option for those victimized by stalkers, but is it the best option for victims?
Whether seeking a stalking injunction is the best course of action depends on the circumstances of each individual’s case. In some cases, where an individual feels that their or someone else’s life is in immediate and imminent danger, the police should be called to prevent the situation from escalating to a volatile level. Alternatively, an experienced family law attorney can lend great insight into whether or not an injunction would be appropriate in a particular case. This can usually be done in an initial consultation to discuss all of the injunctions available in Florida.
There are some important things to keep in mind when seeking a stalking injunction against a particular individual or seeking to have one dismissed that has been filed.
First, is that claims of stalking have to be supported by “competent substantial evidence.” In other words, solid proof of stalking is required before the court may issue an injunction, or the court may risk being overturned by a higher court if an appeal is filed. This is extremely important and is often best supported through evidence and testimony. Documentation over a period of time allows a court to get a good grasp on the nature of a case and allows the court to make a better, more informed judgment. Persons in situations that may potentially result in a stalking injunction should be aware of this and should take any necessary steps to ensure that they have proper evidence to support their allegations.
Second, It should be noted that the process for obtaining a stalking injunction is virtually identical to the processes for injunctions concerning domestic violence, repeat violence, etc.; when a petition is filed, the court will either:
1) issue a temporary order and set a return hearing
2) not issue a temporary order and set a hearing for within 15 days, or
3) or dismiss the injunction.
After the final return hearing, the court will issue its final ruling. Under this process, it is common for judges to be fairly liberal in granting temporary injunctions if the petition sufficiently alleges that stalking may have occurred. This is simply a matter of prudence, as courts would rather err on the side of caution until a full hearing can be held and all of the evidence has been displayed.
The issuance of an injunction can have very serious consequences in many areas of life. Those with injunctions on their records often cannot secure certain employment opportunities in careers that require background checks and security clearances. More importantly, injunctions can directly affect whether or not someone can see and be with their loved ones, namely their children. Injunctions truly are a powerful remedy and should be approached under the guidance of a qualified attorney.
Having a qualified attorney involved may mean the difference between dismissing an injunction and issuing one. Even more than that – legal proceedings involving stalking are highly emotional and can cause confusion and uncertainty. An attorney, who has been involved in injunction proceedings before, can be a tremendously stabling force by offering objective advice from an experienced perspective. It always helps to have someone there who has navigated through this process before.
If you are interested in speaking with a Florida Family Law Attorney about a Stalking Injunction, contact William S. Foley, Esquire, at (813) 272-2345 today.
Foley Family Law | William S. Foley, PA