Injunctions are essentially restraining orders – and they have serious consequences. False injunctions happen all the time. While they are not considered criminal, injunctions have very much the same consequences as criminal cases. Injunctions are designed to prevent someone from doing something or coming into contact with another person. There does exist the possibility of this process being abused and it is highly advised that you speak with an attorney if you are ever involved in an injunction. Here is basically how it works:
The petitioner files an injunction with the court against the respondent.
Petitioner = the person seeking protection from the court.
Respondent = the person who allegedly committed (or threatened to commit) violence.
While different things must be shown for each kind of injunction, the standard is the same for all six. The petitioner (the one asking for the injunction) must demonstrate to the court by competent substantial evidence that the requisite violence occurred.
Judges (not juries) decide whether to issue an injunction or not. If the petition for an injunction is properly filled out and the contents are sufficient to meet the standard, a judge will order a temporary injunction and order a final injunction hearing date be set as soon as possible. In the meantime, the respondent cannot have any contact with the petitioner and must abide by any other orders the judge included in the temporary injunction – such as not allowing the respondent to return home, or ordering the respondent to continue to pay to support the petitioner (and children, where applicable).
During the final injunction hearing, the parties are not required to have attorneys – although we highly suggest it. When the hearing is held, both sides are entitled to an impartial decision-maker and the opportunity to present their case. Either side can call witnesses and present evidence. This is where an attorney can significantly help you present to the court your side of the case. The rules of evidence and court procedure are relaxed somewhat in injunction hearings, but they do still apply.
When the court holds the final injunction hearing, it must make findings of fact that there exists circumstances to warrant the issuance of the injunction. For example, yelling profanities and threats at the petitioner are not always sufficient – even if they occur on more than one occasion. A Florida court has even held that a respondent’s statement that he had a gun and that he wasn’t afraid to use was not sufficient to constitute a threat because there was no overt act that indicated an ability to carry out the threat or to justify a belief that any violence was imminent. Santiago v. Towle, 917 So.2d 909 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005).
Courts may have many injunction hearings set for any given day and your time before the judge may be limited. Go into the courtroom with the confidence that you have an experienced trial lawyer with the skills and experience to present your case effectively. Don’t risk getting a false injunction! At Fighter Law, we strive to be the most skilled injunction lawyers in Orlando. We would be honored to help you in your time of need.
Yes, people can lie in injunctions. While injunctions are important to protect victims from legitimate violence and threats of violence, people do sometimes lie in their petitions. There are many different theories as to why people lie and a skilled defense attorney should be able to bring to light any motive or bias a petitioner may have to falsely seek an injunction.
Here are some of the theories clients have presented to me over the years:
Ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends may seek revenge on the other out of jealousy or spite.
Spouses going through a divorce in the middle of a heated custody battle over their children think that getting an injunction will win them favor with the family law court or help them get custody of the children.
When a former girlfriend learns her boyfriend has been cheating on her – or vice versa.
When one person simply wants to interfere with the life of the ex and make their life miserable by dragging them back into court over and over.
An ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend wants to embarrass the other by making false allegations against them in an open court.
To be able to gain control over the other person. If a person gets an injunction, all they have to do is call the police claiming the respondent violated the injunction by calling them or coming near them – this often results in the respondent getting arrested.
One person wants to get the other kicked out the house to teach them a lesson.
You can file for an injunction in the county where you live (either temporaily or permanently), where the respondent lives, or where the violence occurred. There is no minimum residency requirement.
Yes, text messages can be used in injunctions. However, anyone can fake text messages. Therefore, in order to get them entered into evidence for the court to consider, you have to authenticate them. In other words, there has to be something that shows that the other person in fact sent you the text messages. Circumstantial factors can be used to “authenticate” the text came from a particular person. The case to read on this point is Walker v. Harley-Anderson, 45 Fla. L. Weekly D2116a – a 2020 4th DCA case. Some of the factors include context like the person’s name being contained in the messages, other witnesses who can testify that they have communicated with that person at that number, addresses, things like that which can be linked back to the person.
Usually, yes. Absent exceptional circumstances, the court will usually dismiss or throw out the injunction and the respondent will be free to go.
If the petitioner indicates to the court that he or she still wants the injunction, the court will usually grant the petition and enter an injunction against the respondent. The court will want to see proof that the respondent was served with notice of the hearing, however.
Yes. Florida law specifically allows for that. The party (or parties) must petition the court to modify or dissolve the injunction. But be warned – the injunction will NOT be considered amended or dismissed until the judge signs an order indicated such.
The court has the authority to order you not to have any contact with the petitioner, to order you to attend classes (including the batterer’s intervention program), to prohibit you owning or possessing any firearms, to have supervised visitation with any children in common and any other conditions the court deems necessary to protect the petitioner.
You MUST be served in order for the injunction process to move forward. Due process requires that a respondent be served with the injunction papers before the final hearing can take place. If you have not been served, the injunction is technically not enforceable and you cannot violate it. If a final order has been entered without you being served, that is reversible error. In other words, it can be undone.
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