Articles Posted in Injunctions

Violation of injunction for protection against domestic violence is a crime under Florida statute 731.32(4)(a).  For some, it seems ridiculous that an act as harmless as sending flowers or a text message could result in a person being arrested.  However, this is the reality under Florida law, if there has been a valid injunction for protection against domestic violence put into place.  Ordinarily, these protective orders have language that orders one person not to contact or come near another person.

No ViolenceAs a Jacksonville lawyer, I’ve advocated on behalf of clients needing protection and on behalf of clients seeking to avoid an injunction against them.  In some cases, the injunction was probably needed, while in other cases- not so much.  If there is an injunction entered against you, whether you believe it is valid or not, you should follow the judge’s order not to contact the other person. Violation of an injunction for protection is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or by probation up to one year. First degree misdemeanor criminal offenses, as here with injunction violations, can also be punished by fine.

The person who asks for or petitions the court for an injunction is called the petitioner. While the person who responds to the petition is called the respondent. Often, the respondent will be served with the initial temporary injunction and violate it immediately by calling or contacting the petitioner to find out what is going on. The temporary injunction is valid until a court has the ability to hear evidence and testimony from both sides. The testimony and evidence will be presented at a hearing. Based on the information provided, the judge will make a decision on whether the temporary injunction should be continued and made permanent or not.

Domestic violence injunctions are serious business. Having an injunction issued against you limits your rights in certain areas. It limits the freedom to go certain places, it limits the freedom to possess firearms, and it creates criminal liability for violating the injunction. Florida Statute 741.30 governs the circuit court’s injunction powers in regard to Domestic Violence. The statute is designed to make seeking a protective order an easy endeavor.

As a Jacksonville criminal defense and family law attorney, I’ve defended people in proceedings to have injunctions put in place, and I’ve also represented people seeking the protection of a domestic violence injunction. A common occurrence is that people are [understandably] highly emotional immediately after whatever incident led her [or him] to seek a domestic violence injunction, and he or she is adamant about having the protection in place. However, time has a way of healing wounds. The anger slips away, but now there is a court order that says that Boyfriend can’t come near Girlfriend or contact her for the next year [or maybe even permanently]. These situations can happen in both directions, but the most common scenario in my experience is that the woman is seeking protection from the man.

The thing about the injunctions are that they don’t tell Girlfriend that she is to stay away from Boyfriend; in most instances, it’s a one-way street. Boyfriend must stay away from and can’t contact Girlfriend, even if she says that it’s okay, because the judge said, “DON’T DO IT!” So what happens? Well, Boyfriend [thinking the coast is clear] accepts an invitation from Girlfriend to come by and spend time with her. Things are great, until there is a disagreement about something, usually some trivial and incredibly unimportant thing. By the way, while things were great, Boyfriend and Girlfriend called and texted each other ALL the time. So, after there is a falling out, she has plenty of proof that he’s violated the injunction, which is a crime.
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Through the evolution of technology, people no longer communicate the way that they used to. Where as most business and social interactions used to always take place face to face, in today’s tech world that is no longer the case. Now a substantial amount of social interaction and business interactions are through email or social media sites such as Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Although this has been great in many respects, there have also been many downfalls for clients in the legal system. This has been extremely true for people who have had domestic violence injunctions or restraining orders issued against them.

In years past when an alleged victim took out an injunction for protection in Florida, the prohibited conduct was normally clear. Do not call the victim. Do not go within 500 feet of certain addresses. If you called the person, there was a record of the call, which would mean that you violated the terms of the injunction and would go to jail on a misdemeanor violation of injunction. This is no longer the case. With the inventions of social media sites, violating an Injunction or commonly known as a restraining order has become more complicated and potentially more dangerous for the person who has an injunction against them. As a result, there have been allegations that a person may violate an injunction and not even know it.

Just this week it was reported that a Google+ invite to a former girlfriend landed a man in jail. The police reported alleged that an ex girlfriend had just broken up with the man and obtained a restraining order against him. Shortly after receiving the injunction, the girlfriend discovered an invitation to join one of his Google+ circles. She called the police and they arrested the man for this one act. Upon first look many people would think this is no different than the woman who was arrested for violating an injunction for a “poke” on Facebook. In the Facebook case the evidentiary issue was whether it could be proved that it was actually the woman herself or her involvement that caused the poke or had another person had access to her computer.
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Atlantic Beach Domestic Violence AttorneyAtlantic Beach Domestic Violence Accusations are very serious charges. What do you do when you have been accused of Domestic Violence? How do you defend yourself when someone has accused you of domestic violence in Atlantic Beach, Florida?

If someone accuses you of domestic violence, you need to watch what you say. In many cases, when the Jacksonville Beach Sheriff’s Office responds to a domestic dispute, someone ends up going to jail. You do not want your words to be misconstrued and used against you.

  • If you have been arrested for Atlantic Beach Domestic Violence, you will go before a judge for first appearance court. Here, you will (a) receive a bond or (b) accept a plea deal. The majority of the time, accepting a plea deal is one of the worse things that you can do. Usually, the Atlantic Beach Domestic Battery Sentence will include extensive probation and you will not be able to get the charge sealed. It is best to discuss the case with an Atlantic Beach Domestic Violence Attorney before doing anything.

Imagine that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office sends a police officer to your home for questioning. You hear a knock on your door, and you are not sure why the police officer is there. He begins to question you about a recent Jacksonville Florida crime. Due to his line of questioning, you feel uncomfortable. You are not sure if he believes you are a witness or a suspect. You are worried that if you refuse to speak with him, he will think that you have something to hide. However, if you talk to him, he may misconstrue your words and use them against you.

These are all normal reactions. As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer, I have represented clients that were not charged with crimes, but they were under investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. For people that are not involved in the Jacksonville legal system, it is difficult to discuss a case, because they do not understand all of the circumstances surrounding the case. Normally, when a police officer suspects that a person has committed a crime, he is not seeking evidence that will exculpate or exonerate the suspect. He is usually seeking evidence that tends to implicate the suspect. When you discuss your case with a police officer, you may be giving him evidence that he can later use against you.

You should considering hiring a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer to speak with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and discuss your case with you. The Jacksonville Criminal Attorney can be present at any meetings that you have with the police officer and advise you of the best route to take during the case’s investigation. If you are under investigation, contact a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer to assist you in these tricky times and to make sure your legal rights are being protected.

Jacksonville Domestic Violence Accusations are very serious charges. What do you do when you have been accused of Domestic Violence? How do you defend yourself when someone has accused you of domestic violence in Jacksonville, Florida?

  1. If someone accuses you of domestic violence, you need to watch what you say. In many cases, when the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responds to a domestic dispute, someone ends up going to jail. You do not want your words to be misconstrued and used against you.   
  2. If you have been arrested for Jacksonville Domestic Battery, you will go before a judge for first appearance court.  Here, you will (a) receive a bond or (b) accept a plea deal.  The majority of the time, accepting a plea deal is one of the worse things that you can do.  Usually, the Jacksonville Domestic Battery Sentence will include extensive probation and you will not be able to get the charge sealed.  It is best to discuss the case with a lawyer (Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer) before doing anything.  
  3. If you are served with a Jacksonville Restraining Order (Jacksonville Injunction), go to the hearing and be well-prepared.  You should hire an attorney that understands the law surrounding Jacksonville Restraining Orders.  In order for an alleged domestic violence victim to obtain a restraining order, he or she must prove certain things.  Quite often, the evidence is insufficient, so you must properly attack the Jacksonville domestic violence allegation. That why it is important to have a Jacksonville Injunction Lawyer (Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer) that has experience not only in defending against the injunctions being issued, but that has also petitioned courts to have injunctions issued and that has defended against criminal violations of injunctions.  
  4. Do not speak to the alleged victim or make any contact with this person.  If you have been charged with Jacksonville Domestic Battery and have been released on a bond, you could violated a “No Contact Order” which is a condition of that bond.  If a temporary or permanent injunction for protection against domestic violence has been issued against you, you will violate it, even if the alleged victim tries to contact you.  

Quite often, the respondent in a Jacksonville Domestic Violence Injunction Hearing will also have a criminal case pending at the same time. Therefore, he or she will be reluctant to defend at the Jacksonville Injunction hearing due to a fear of jeopardizing the criminal case. However, there are remedies. The respondent may be able to obtain a continuance until after the criminal case is resolved. Otherwise, the respondent can testify and invoke the fifth amendment’s right against self incrimination. As long as the respondent does not testify on direct-examination about the matters pertaining to the criminal charge, he or she cannot be forced to testify on cross-examination about the alleged Jacksonville crime. Since “the right to be free from self-incrimination is a fundamental principle secured by the Fifth Amendment, waiver of the privilege will not be lightly inferred, and courts will generally indulge every reasonable presumption against finding a waiver.” Jenkins v. Wessel, 780 So. 2d 1006, 1007 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001) (citing State v. Spiegel, 710 So. 2d 13, 16 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998).

For more information, read The Fifth Amendment is Used to Prevent People From Being Forced to Testify about Criminal Matters in Florida Hearings.

The Fifth Amendment is applied to Florida, and all the other States, through the Fourteenth Amendment. It protects a person from self-incrimination and is meant to “assure that an individual is not compelled to produce evidence which later may be used against him as an accused in a criminal action.” Maness v. Meyers, 419 U.S. 449, 461 (1975). A witness in a civil proceeding has the right to refuse to respond to a question on the grounds that his answer may tend to incriminate him. See Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441, 444-45 (1972).

In an injunction hearing is a civil proceeding. Quite often, the civil proceeding is intertwined with a criminal case. For example, the respondent that is defending against the restraining order may also be the Jacksonville criminal defendant in a Jacksonville domestic battery case. Other example occurs when the respondent has not been charged with a crime, but he or she may be arrested in the future for conduct alleged in the Jacksonville petition for an injunction.

The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals has found that a respondent did not waive his Fifth Amendment right when he testified at a Florida injunction hearing. Since this right “is a fundamental principle secured by the Fifth Amendment, waiver of the privilege will not be lightly inferred, and courts will generally indulge every reasonable presumption against finding a waiver.” Jenkins v. Wessel, 780 So. 2d 1006, 1008 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001) (citing State v. Spiegel, 710 So. 2d 13, 16 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998). The court held that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination is waived “only as to matters relevant to issues raised by [the witness’s] testimony on direct examination.” Jenkins, 780 So. 2d 1006, 1008 (citing Johnson v. State, 509 So. 2d 373, 373 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987)).

When a Jacksonville Court is deciding whether or not to issue a Jacksonville Restraining Order by granting a petition for an injunction against domestic violence, the court will look to the factors listed in Florida Statute Section 741.30(1)(a). This Florida law states that the court should consider whether the Respondent:

  1. committed or threatened to commit domestic violence;
  2. previously threatened, harassed, stalked, or physically abused the petitioner;
  3. attempted to harm the petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with the petitioner;
  4. threatened to conceal, kidnap, or harm the petitioner’s child or children.
  5. intentionally injured or killed a family pet;
  6. used, or has threatened to use, against the petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives;
  7. physically restrained the petitioner from leaving the home or calling law enforcement;
  8. has a criminal history involving violence or the threat of violence (if known);
  9. has another order of protection issued against him or her previously or from another jurisdiction (if known);
  10. destroyed personal property belonging to the petitioner; or
  11. engaged in any other behavior or conduct that leads the petitioner to have reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. 
When working on a Jacksonville Domestic Violence Injunction case, I grow through all of these factors to determine whether or not the Petition has establish grounds for the injunction and the best way to defend against it (Read Jacksonville Restraining Order Denied in Alleged Domestic Violence Case).
In some cases, the Petitioner will hire me to obtain the injunction.  In that case, it is important to make sure that I have the necessary proof, so the Court may grant the Jacksonville Petition for an Injunction.  

Today, I argued in favor of the Respondent at a Jacksonville Injunction Hearing. An injunction is often referred to as a Jacksonville Restraining Order. In this case, the wife (petitioner) filed for a an injunction against her husband (respondent). Without a hearing, the judge issued a temporary restraining order. After the order was issued, I met with the husband. After reading the Jacksonville Petition for an Injunction and speaking with him, it was obvious that the wife did not have a reasonable fear that he would commit any violence to her. He had never committed an act of domestic violence in the past and never threatened to do so. Factors that the Court will Look at When Issuing a Jacksonville Domestic Violence Restraining Order are listed in Florida Statute Section 741.30(1)(a).

At the Jacksonville Injunction Hearing, I presented Florida cases, such as Oettemeier v. Oettmeier, 960 So. 2d 902 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2007) and Gill v. Gill, 50 So. 3d 772 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2010). I explained to the judge the reasons that the Jacksonville Restraining Order should not be issue pursuant to Florida Statute Section 741.30. After hearing the testimony of the petitioner, wife, and reading the cases, the judge ruled that the injunction should not be issued, and he terminated the temporary restraining order.

When being served with a Jacksonville Restraining Order, it is important to know your rights. Contact a Jacksonville Injunction Lawyer to discuss your case.

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