Domestic Violence Injunctions in Florida
Obtaining a domestic violence injunction in Florida is not hard. The Court only requires that you show that you have been the victim of domestic violence (by what is called “competent substantial evidence”) OR that you are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. Here is the statute on point – Florida Statute 741.30.
What this means is that you do not even have to be a victim yet to get an injunction. If you are in imminent danger of a future act of domestic violence, you can get one!
You will have to show that you are related, you are family or you were a household member at some point. That is all you have to do to get a domestic violence injunction.
Now, a “household member” encompasses many different types of relationships. The definition includes spouses and former spouses, any persons related by blood or marriage, any persons who reside or have resided as a family in the past, or persons who have a child in common.
So even though you never lived in the same “household” as the other person, you are considered a “household member” if you had a child with that person.
If you only dated the other person, you may not qualify for a domestic violence injunction. But you may qualify for a dating violence injunction. That type of injunction is not used that often but it does exist.
Having a domestic violence injunction in Florida (while not a criminal offense) can hurt your future in many ways, including preventing you from getting or keeping a concealed weapons permit in the State of Florida. An injunction that has the word “violence” in it is very much like having a criminal record. It’s important to speak with a domestic violence injunction lawyer about your case, we encourage you to call us at 407-344-4837 to learn more.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family household member by another
When is a domestic violence injunction applicable in Florida?
According to Florida Law 741.30(6)(a), “A domestic violence injunction may be issued upon notice and hearing, when it appears to the court that a petitioner is either the victim of domestic violence as defined by section 741.28 or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.”
Therefore, you have to show two things:
- The respondent is or was a household member; and
- The respondent stalked, battered, sexually battered or assaulted, kidnapped or falsely imprisoned you.
Who qualifies as a family or household member?
To have standing to get a domestic violence injunction, a person must show that he or she is a “family or household member” together with the target of the requested injunction. “Family or household member” is defined to include:
Spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
You need “something more than a romantic relationship with overnight visits,” especially when two people “maintained separate residences throughout their relationship.” Slovenski v. Wright, 849 So. 2d 349, 350 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003). Here is a recent 2022 case that affirmed that 2003 ruling. Ryan Alcon, Appellant, v. Emmaline Collins, Appellee. 1st District. Case Nos. 1D20-2265, 1D20-3459. March 2, 2022.
Does it matter when the violence happened?
The Florida Supreme Court has held that there is a temporal component to filling for a domestic violence injunction. While that is not specified, it is important because you need to provide evidence of domestic violence that is reasonable and competent, the court may not accept an isolated incident as a reason to issue an injunction.
For example, consider the recent Florida Supreme Court decision in Zapiola v. Kordecki. The two women had been in a relationship in 2012. During that time there was a night that Kordecki claimed Zapiola “threw a drink at her and punched her in the face.” After that Kordecki said that Zapiola had tried to contact her through social media and that her job as a traffic aid may present Xapiola with the opportunity to harm her. The court decided that the one incident identified years ago by Kordecki is not “reasonable cause to believe that she was in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.” The court also found that the messages sent over social media were not objectively reasonable.
In the context, objectively reasonable means that the fear experienced in the case was not a fear that would be felt by a reasonable, unbiased person. For example, if for some reason your boss yelled “I’m going to kill you,” and you were in a public place and he/she did not have a gun pointed at you, then it is reasonable to think that he/she will not actually kill you. Therefore the fear felt alone is not reasonable cause to file for an injunction. Similarly, the messages sent by Zapiola to Kordecki did not adequately show that Kordecki was or will be in danger.
What if I am experiencing verbal violence?
The Florida Supreme Court has found that “verbal violence, mental instability, a bad temper, depressive and suicidal statements, angry messages, vague actions, and general conditional future threats without overt action implying imminence have been found to be insufficient.” In other words, if the person is being mean or exhibits “uncivil behavior” along with actions that are typical of a crumbling domestic relationship, that is not sufficient grounds for this kind of injunction.
What can happen to me if I violate a Florida domestic violence injunction?
The Florida Legislature passed a law, which specifies exactly what has to happen if a person violates a domestic violence injunction. For example, a person who willfully violates an injunction for protection against domestic violence commits a first-degree misdemeanor. If that person has two or more prior convictions for a violation of an injunction, and who subsequently commits a violation of any injunction against the same victim, commits a felony of the third degree. Even if there is no criminal prosecution of the violation, the judge still MUST order you to complete a batterer’s intervention course.
Probably the most interesting part of this statute is that any person, who suffers an injury and/or loss as a result of a violation of an injunction for protection against domestic violence, may be awarded economic damages for that injury and/or loss by the court issuing the injunction. Damages include costs and attorneys’ fees for enforcement of the injunction!