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FLORIDA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW
The term domestic violence means 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 or household member by another family or household member.
HOW IS FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD DEFINED
Family or household member means a spouse, former spouse, 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.
AM I ENTITLED TO A HEARING BEFORE AN INJUNCTION IS ISSUED
A temporary injunction is issued based upon the Affidavit of the person seeking it, there is no hearing and it is good for at least 15 days. After a temporary injunction is served upon the respondent a hearing will be held within 15 days. At the hearing, the Petitioner must prove by a preponderance of evidence (it is more likely than not) that she/he is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.
WHAT IS THE CRITERIA IN DETERMINING THE ISSUANCE OF AN INJUNCTION
In determining whether the person is in imminent danger the court considers the following factors and all other relevant factors alleged in the petition, including, but not limited to:
1. The history between the petitioner and the respondent, including threats, harassment,stalking, and physical abuse;
2. Whether the respondent has attempted to harm the petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with the petitioner
3. Whether the respondent has threatened to conceal, kidnap, or harm the petitioner's child or children.
4. Whether the respondent has intentionally injured or killed a family pet.
5. Whether the respondent has used, or has threatened to use, against the petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives.
6. Whether the respondent has physically restrained the petitioner from leaving the home or calling law enforcement.
7. Whether the respondent has a criminal history involving violence or the threat of violence.
8. The existence of a verifiable order of protection issued previously or from another jurisdiction.
9. Whether the respondent has destroyed personal property, including, but not limited to, telephones or other communications equipment, clothing, or other items belonging to the petitioner.
10. Whether the respondent engaged in any other behavior or conduct that leads the petitioner to have reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.
HOW LONG IS AN INJUNCTION VALID FOR
Temporary Injections typically last no more than 15 days but may be extended for good cause, such as the respondent not being served with the temporary injunction and notice of final hearing.
At the full hearing, the judge will decide whether to give you a final injunction. The final injunction will last longer than 15 days and may provide you with more protections than the temporary injunction did. The final injunction may have a set period of time that it will be in effect (for example, one year) or it may not have an expiration date. If there is no expiration date, either you or the abuser can file in court to modify (change) or dissolve (end) the injunction at any time and the judge will decide whether or not to grant the relief requested.
CAN I BE ARRESTED FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, IF SO WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT
Yes. A person is found guilty of, has adjudication withheld on, or pleads nolo contendere (no contest) to a crime of domestic violence that person will be ordered by the court to serve a minimum term of 1-year probation and the court must order that the defendant to attend a batterers' intervention program as a condition of probation. Further, If a person found guilty of the crime of domestic violence and the person intentionally cased bodily harm to another person, the court must order the defendant to serve a minimum of 5 days in the county jail as part of any sentence imposed.
ARE THERE DEFENSES TO A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGE
In Florida, domestic violence crimes are very defendable and a decision to plead guilty or no contest should not be made without first consulting with a lawyer. There are defenses to domestic violence. They are:
Disputes about the underlying incident;
There is no injury and the alleged victim is not truthful;
Alleged victim using domestic violence laws to gain an edge in a divorce action;
Defending another such as a child or other household member;
Defending against the destruction of your personal property;
Defending yourself when attached in your home (Stand your ground)