Domestic violence affects millions of individuals and families across the United States. In Florida, filing a restraining order provides a mechanism for victims to seek protection from domestic violence. This legal order prohibits the abuser from contacting, approaching, or harming the victim, providing a sense of safety and security. There is no question that Palm Beach County is not immune to the problem. According to the Palm Beach Post, County Judges have issued 14,957 restraining orders over the last five years.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner.” It can include a range of behaviors, including:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional or psychological abuse
- Economic abuse
- May also involve stalking, threats, and/or other forms of intimidation
Domestic abuse can occur in any kind of intimate relationship, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. It is often characterized by a cycle of abuse, where tensions build, is then followed by incidents of violence, and then a period of reconciliation and/or calm.
Who Should Consider Getting a Restraining Order?
Anyone experiencing domestic violence should consider filing for a restraining order, regardless of the severity of abuse. It is appropriate for individuals experiencing physical harm, threats, harassment, stalking of rother forms of violence. Also, it’s not limited to physical abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse also qualify. If an individual is being abused, but is hesitant to apply for a restraining order, please consider this. Before joining GOLDLAW, Civil Trial Attorney Tim Kenison tried numerous cases that included charges of domestic violence, capital sexual battery, and sexual batter with force. He’s seen what effect domestic abuse has on victims, and why getting a restraining order is vital.
“According to the CDC, 41% of women and 26% of men have experienced some form of domestic violence, which includes physical violence, sexual violence, and stalking. Florida law offers protection to victims of domestic abuse in the form of a civil restraining order entered by a judge. To obtain a restraining order against the abuser, the victim must show that there is an imminent threat of violence. An ‘imminent’ threat is an immediate threat and requires the victim to show his or her very recent abuse. The longer the victim waits to pursue a restraining order following an incident of abuse, the harder it is to obtain one. If you or a loved one are a victim of physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking, it is extremely important that action is taken quickly. Delays and second chances are often fatal.”
How to File a Restraining Order in Florida.
The first step in obtaining a restraining order is to file a petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence. The petition is available at local courthouses and is often provided at no cast. Once you have the paperwork, it’ s imperative to follow these steps:
1. Gather Information
Collect any documentation or evidence supporting your claim of domestic violence. This may include police reports, medical records, and witness statements.
2. Complete the Petition
The first step in the legal process is to fill out the petition. You’ll be asked to describe the incidents of domestic violence in detail, including dates, times, and the nature of the abuse. Be as SPECIFIC and FACTUAL as possible.
3. File the Petition
Once the petition is complete, file it with the Clerk of Court in the county you reside or where the domestic violence occurred.
4. Temporary Hearing/Injunction
Once the petition is filed, a judge will review it, often on the same day. During the hearing, both the petitioner (victim) and the respondent (individual accused of domestic violence) can present their case. If the court finds your petition valid, a temporary restraining order may be issued immediately. This order will remain in effect until a final hearing is held.
5. Final Hearing
This hearing is usually scheduled within 15 days of the temporary injunction. During this hearing, both parties will present their arguments, and the judge will make a decision based on the evidence presented.
Common Problems Petitioners May Face
Petitioners should be prepared for possible challengers, including:
1. Serving the Order
Serving the restraining order on the abuser can be challenging, especially if the abuser is evasive of unwilling to cooperate.
2. Enforcing the Order
Even after a restraining order is issued, enforcing it may be difficult. Law enforcement may not always be able to respond immediately to violations, and the abuser may still find ways to contact or harm the victim.
3. Emotional/Psychological Toll
The process of filing for and obtaining the order can be emotionally draining for the victim. Dealing with the legal system and facing the abuser in court can often be overwhelming.
Should You Work With a Lawyer?
While it’s not mandatory to have an attorney file for a restraining order. Seeking legal assistance can be beneficial. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the process and provide advice on such things as gathering evidence and providing representation in court.
Obtaining a restraining order in Florida involves several steps, from filing a detailed petition to potentially appearing in court. It’s a process that requires courage and clarity, especially if the victim must confront the abuser. Although legal assistance is not mandatory, it can be a significant asset. In the end, a restraining order is a vital tool in ensuring safety and peace of mind for victims of domestic violence. Check here to get more information on how to file an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence in Palm Beach County.
Let GOLDLAW Help!
The sexual assault lawyers at GOLDLAW have years of experience representing clients whose situations often started with their being victims of domestic abuse. Our attorneys will help you obtain the justice you deserve by doing the following:
- Connect you with the proper authorities to investigate the battery or the assault and possibly bring charges against the perpetrator.
- File a legal claim against the defendant or other associated defendants in a civil court of law. The purpose of a civil claim is to hold the attacker accountable for their actions and secure restitution for the pain, suffering, and mental and physical agony an attacker has inflicted upon you.
- At GOLDLAW, we are advocates for the rights of victims of domestic violence, Our lawyers have represented survivors of sexual assault of various backgrounds, circumstances, and outcomes. GOLDLAW lawyers have also spoken at women’s and victim’s rights seminars and workshops about the law and civil protections for those who have been assaulted.
Need a lawyer with the experience, compassion, and dedication to fight for your rights? Contact GOLDLAW immediately, or “Choose the 2s,” and call 561.222.2222 for a COMPLIMENTARY consultation!