What Happens If Someone Violates a Protective Order?



In Florida, a protective order (injunction) is a court order issued to restrict or prohibit a person from coming into or contacting the petitioner.  Under Florida law, any person who is either the victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger has the legal standing in the civil or family court to file for an injunction order. There are four protective orders in Florida: domestic, repeat, dating, and sexual.

Protective orders are taken very seriously by Florida courts. Those who violate the terms of the injunction placed on them may face severe criminal repercussions. Courts are often unsympathetic to protective order violations. No criminal charge is taken lightly, but the consequences may be even more severe if an injunction order is in place. These situations often require an experienced defense attorney who understands the law and can protect your rights.

Possible Defenses against Violating a Protective Order

There are many ways a person may violate a protective order. The best way to ensure no violations are committed is to have a thorough understanding of the conditions of the injunction. A common misconception is that the petitioner can decide whether resuming contact is permissible. However, this is not true; once an injunction is granted, it must be modified through a court hearing before a judge.

Even if you and the petitioner have reconciled, communicating with them violates the injunction and can have severe consequences. Florida law states that law enforcement has the discretion to arrest and charge you for any violation of an injunction regardless of the petitioner’s content to contact. There are numerous defenses available against a violation of protective order in Florida. Someone of those common defenses includes:

Lack of Intent to Violate

The prosecution must prove that the defendant willfully violated the protective order in this defense. To be considered willfully, the defendant’s actions in violating the protective order must be done knowingly, intentionally, and purposely. This often happens when a defendant is unaware of the full scope of the protective order’s prohibitions.

Lack of Notice of Protective Order

Convection of violation cannot be sustained when the state fails to provide the defendant with the protective order notice or the full scope of the protective order’s restrictions.

Protective Order Issues/Conflicting Protective Orders

Occasionally, a defendant accused of violating a protective order is subject to two conflicting protective orders at the time of the alleged violation. For instance, one order might state the defendant cannot be near the petitioner’s home, but their custody agreement states the defendant must pick up the child at their home. In this instance, the alleged violation of one order is arguably not willful, so long as the defendant complied with the other order and believed the order they violated was not in effect at the time of the alleged violation.

Misunderstanding of Meaning, Effect, or Scope of the Protective Order

If there is a good-faith mistake or misunderstanding, the violation is arguably not willful. When the protective order terms are not thoroughly explained and outlined, the defendant may violate a term they hadn’t even fully understood.

Work with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney at Fight Law

Not every protective order violation is done with the intent to break the law. Often protective orders can be confusing and complex, and they require extensive knowledge of protective order law and criminal law. However, violating a protective order even by accident can have severe criminal consequences. The best way to protect yourself from even committing a violation is to work with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the legal process of a protective order.

If you have violated a protective order, Fighter Law has the expertise, experience, and resources to build a strong defense and achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. Reach out to us at (407) 344-4837 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation today.

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