In Florida, restraining orders are typically given in the context of domestic violence or a dispute in personal or familial relationships, which can include physical abuse, harassment, stalking, cyberstalking, and sexual assault as well as other forms of abuse. Courts have the jurisdiction to issue temporary restraining orders (also known as orders of protection) that force a person to refrain from engaging in a specified activity, such as seeing or contacting the person who has requested the order.
In civil cases, courts can also impose restraining orders which can prevent a person from contacting a non-family member or intimate partner, or from visiting a specific company or professional office among other things. While an individual's initial instinct may be to contact the person who issued the restraining order, here are some suggestions on what to do (and what not to do) when faced with an order of protection. If you or a loved one has been served with a civil injunction or restraining order, the first thing you should do is call an experienced West Palm Beach domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible.
Is a Florida Restraining Order Civil or Criminal?
Criminal cases and civil protection orders are not the same thing, however, one can have an impact on the other. Actions that lead to a protection order may not be enough to charge someone with a crime. This could be because of the specific action, or it could be because there is not enough evidence to meet the higher "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of proof required for a conviction for a crime. To convict a person, a prosecutor must show that there is no reasonable doubt that the accuser may be in danger. Criminal evidence rules are very complicated, and the type of crime at hand can affect which previous bad acts and statements can be used as evidence.
For example, suppose someone kept calling another person and making them feel bad for months. There might be enough evidence to get a telephone anti-harassment order against them. A person can be charged with harassment if he or she makes a lot of repeated phone calls to the same person. However, there might not be enough evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she had bad intentions.
In Florida, a temporary protection order is a serious thing, but it's considered a civil matter. If you break a civil protection order that has been put in place, you could face jail time. While fines are not part of protection orders, costs can be, and for financial reasons these are the same. When you get a court order, it shows up on different databases than when you get a criminal record. It can also limit the future actions of the person to whom it is applied in a big way.
Family law matters such as divorce, paternity claims, or custody hearings can also lead to restraining orders, and they may address concerns that arise in those situations such as domestic abuse, child support, and property division.
What to Do If Someone Files for a Restraining Order Against You in Florida?
If you are served with a temporary restraining order, it is important to act quickly. Even if you believe you have a good defense and will defeat an attempt to have the temporary order turned into a permanent order, you must comply with all of the orders contained in it, such as not having any contact with the petitioner. Once you have done so, you should immediately consult with a West Palm Beach domestic violence defense attorney to ensure that you are prepared for the hearing on the permanent order.
While you should obey the order of protection, it is also important to:
- Collect any physical evidence pertaining to the incidents or events referenced in the petition, such as clothing, photographs, films, and items.
- Assemble any documents or records that may be relevant to the case, such as letters, emails, phone and GPS records, computer records, and records indicating your location at the time of an incident.
- Compile a list of possible witnesses—include anyone you believe has information about the incident, the accusations, or the petitioner—and obtain the witnesses' contact information.
It is possible that everything you say during this hearing will be used against you later on in court. There is no limit to what the responder can do after he or she has said everything that is necessary to undermine the petitioner's accusations against them. Only questions can be asked after he or she has finished, and the petitioner may not make assertions or argue with the respondent after the respondent has finished speaking to the petitioner. If the respondent has any witnesses, he or she may ask the judge to call them.
Can I Drop an Order of Protection in Florida?
When a spouse or partner goes to a judge and asks for an order of protection, the reason may no longer be legitimate or valid. Some people have these orders placed against a person because they were angry at them in a single moment. Then, they might reflect back on it differently the next day or even a week after they did it. Others may listen to someone who talks them into getting the order even though they don't need to because of their partner or spouse. While some people may use the tactic of an order to improve their chances of getting custody or getting more money in a divorce. Do not get an order of protection just because you have a heated argument with your spouse or someone you're in a relationship with.
Orders like this can become more complicated if there are other issues, like domestic violence or abuse, that are linked to them. If the other person has to show that he or she is not guilty of a crime, the order may stay in place even if the victim doesn't want it to. Learn more about domestic violence victims dropping the charges here.
Restraining Order Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach, FL
Restraining orders can put a lot of strain on relationships and families, especially when they are based on false or exaggerated claims. Having a West Palm Beach restraining order lawyer makes sure that both sides of the story are heard while ensuring you have the best chance of not having an order of protection on your record.
If you are facing a restraining order or a civil protection order in Florida, you should talk to a lawyer who is familiar with this kind of case to see what your options are for fighting it or getting it reduced. Contact us or call us at (561) 671-5995 to speak with an attorney about a restraining order or protective order today.