Protective Order Hearings
A protective order is otherwise known as a “restraining order.” The purpose of a protective order is to impose certain injunctions for the petitioner’s safety. These injunctions are legal orders that may require the alleged aggressor to refrain from contacting the victim, being close to the victim, owning a firearm, or other conditions.
A protective order can have a domestic violence, stalking, sexual violence or dating violence origin. A petition for an injunction can be filed without the respondent ever being arrested. In some cases the allegations for protective orders are disingenuous. Even so, it can alter a person’s life dramatically.
Have you been served with a temporary order of protection in the St. Lucie County or Martin County area? If so, you must take legal action now. Contact an attorney at Meltzer & Bell today.
Attorneys for Protective Order Hearings in Fort Pierce
Protective orders can limit your ability to navigate your life. However, there is no reason to give up hope. A skilled attorney can advise you throughout the hearing and uncover every legal option available to you.
The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell have advocated for clients in protective order hearings in the Treasure Coast, Florida area. We have over 20 years of collective experience in criminal defense. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to obtain you the best possible result for your case.
Meltzer & Bell represents clients in protective order hearings throughout Martin County and St. Lucie County including Port St. Lucie, Ocean Breeze, Rio, and Fort Pierce.
Call us today at (772) 291-2534, or simply submit an online contact form today.
Overview for Protective Order Hearings in Florida
Types of Protective Orders in Florida
In Florida, there are five types of protective orders with differing injunctions. In all cases the Florida Family Law Rules and the Florida Rules of Evidence apply. The type of restraining order is reliant on the relationship between petitioner and respondent.
Domestic Violence Protective Order
One of the most common protective orders is for domestic violence. A domestic violence protective order is between family members or members of the same household. Florida law states that a domestic violence protective order can be issued for those who have the following relationships:
- Former spouses;
- Present spouses;
- Those who have child(ren) in common;
- Those related by marriage and blood;
- Those who reside together in the same household;
- Those who previously resided together in the same household.
Any kind of assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, aggravated stalking , kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense between family members is considered domestic violence.
Dating Violence Protective Order
There are certain injunctions for those in a dating relationship. Florida Statute § 784.046(1)(d) states “violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” The type of violence that could trigger prosecution and a protective order is the same as it is for domestic violence: assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, aggravated stalking , kidnapping, and false imprisonment
A dating relationship is characterized by the following elements:
- A dating relationship between the two parties within the past six months;
- The frequency and type of interaction between both parties indicates that they have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship; and
- The nature of the relationship must have been characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties.
Stalking Protective Order
An alleged victim of stalking, or the legal guardian of the minor who is an alleged victim, can seek an injunction for protection. Florida Statute § 784.048(2) defines stalking as a person who “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.”
The term “harass” is defined under Florida law as a person who engages “in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.”
Cyberstalking can also be considered stalking. An alleged victim of cyberstalking can file a injunction for a protective order. The term cyberstalking is defined as the intentional act to cause substantial emotional distress to another through electronic mail, text messaging, and other forms of electronic communication.
Sexual Violence Protective Order
Victims or their legal guardians of alleged sexual violence can seek an injunction for protection against any further abuse. Even if the criminal charges for the sexual violence have been reduced or dismissed, a protective order can still be issued.
Florida Statute § 784.046(1)(b) lists actions that can be considered sexual violence under the law. These following are some criminal offenses that constitute sexual violence:
- Sexual performance by a child;
- Luring or enticing a child;
- Sexual battery;
- Sexual assault;
- Lewd or lascivious act on a person who is younger than 16 years of age.
- Any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted.
Repeat Violence Protective Order
Those who are not family or were not in a dating relationship, can still seek an injunction for protection. An alleged victim of repeat violence can petition for an injunction if he or she fears for imminent injury or death.
Florida Statute § 784.046(1)(b) defines repeat violence as “two incidents of violence or stalking committed by the respondent, one of which must have been within six months of the filing of the petition, which are directed against the petitioner or the petitioner’s immediate family.”
Protective Order Process & Consequences in St. Lucie County, Florida
Once the alleged victim files a petition for a protective injunction, the judge will make a decision. He or she can either deny the petition, issue a temporary injunction that stays in effect until the actual hearing, or can sign an order for a hearing without the added temporary injunction for protection.
A judge will deliberate a decision according to the information given to him or her. In reality, it is rare for a petition to be denied. This is out of fear for the safety of the alleged victim. If a temporary injunction is issued, the respondent does not need to be present beforehand.
For the final order of injunction, the judge will review all the available evidence, testimony, and witnesses that are presented by the petitioner and respondent. In some cases, the protective injunction is for a set period of time. On the other hand, there are cases of the protective order having no expiration date at all.
The following are some conditions a respondent may be required to follow if he or she is issued an injunction for protection.
- To not be within 500 feet of the petitioner’s residence, place of employment, school, or specified place which is frequently visited by the petitioner;
- Refrain from contacting the petitioner. Either through telephone, electronic communication, text messaging, or any other form of communication.
- To not be within 100 feet of the petitioner’s motor vehicle, whether it is occupied or not.
- Refrain from defacing or destroying the petitioner’s personal property
- Never make an intentional unlawful threat, word, or act to do violence to the petitioner or the petitioner’s family.
- Commit no act of domestic violence against the petitioner.
- To not be within 100 feet of the petitioner’s child, or the child’s school, home, or frequently visited place.
- Vacate any shared dwelling.
- Surrender firearms or ammunition.
Filing a Restraining Order – Visit the official website for the St. Lucie County Clerk. Find more information regarding how to file an order for a protective injunction. Read more regarding the process, the documentation required, and the differing types of protective orders in Florida.
Victim Services – Visit the official website for the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office. Find more information, provided by Ken J. Mascara, regarding the Sheriff’s Office Victim Assistance program. Gain access to the contacts of the program directors, the address of the program, and resources for victims in English and Spanish.
Injunctions for Protection – Visit the official website for the Martin County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller. Find more information regarding the types of protective orders, resources on how to file a petition, and the requirements a person must bring to successfully file an injunction.
Lawyers for Injunctions for Protection in Port St. Lucie, FL
If you or someone you know is awaiting a protective order hearing, it is crucial that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Judges do tend to side with the alleged victim in protective order hearings. Hiring an attorney can greatly increase the chances of avoiding the issuance of a protective order.
Meltzer & Bell is well-versed in advocating for respondents in protective hearings. We are knowledgeable in all types of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and other types of crimes that can lead to a protective order. Our attorneys are dedicated and creative when formulating defenses. We will exhaust all resources to create the defense that can give you the best possible results for your hearing. Do not be idle in this time. Call the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell today.
The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell practice law throughout the Treasure Coast, Florida area including Port St. Lucie, Stuart, Fort Pierce, Jupiter Island, and Rio.
Dial us today at (772) 291-2534, or simply submit an online contact form for a free consultation.
This article was last updated on September 5, 2018.