In Florida, restraining orders, better known as protective injunctions, offer legal protection to individuals in fear of violence or harm. Injunctions are court orders, so they are enforceable by the court. One important way the court might enforce the terms of an injunction is through criminal penalties for violations. In today’s blog, we will review the specific protections granted in an injunction and the consequences the respondent may face for violating an injunction.
Protections Granted in a Restraining Order
Recall that Florida offers 5 different types of protective injunctions – domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence, repeat violence, and stalking injunctions. Each injunction carries different terms, but they all generally protect the petitioner by prohibiting further contact or violence from the respondent and requiring them to surrender any guns or ammunition in possession. Depending on your case, your injunction may also order more specific terms. For instance, a domestic violence injunction also restricts the respondent from going anywhere near your residence or workplace and may include child custody and support provisions.
Penalties for Violating an Injunction
Courts can enforce protective injunctions by issuing criminal penalties for violations. Depending on the terms of your injunction, you have the right to request action from the court if the respondent:
- refuses to leave a residence you share together (domestic violence injunction);
- commits further violence, threat, or stalking against the petitioner;
- contacts or otherwise communicates with the petitioner and/or their children directly or indirectly;
- defaces the petitioner’s personal property, such as their motor vehicle;
- refuses to relinquish their firearms or ammunition if ordered by the court to do so.
A violation of an injunction for domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or repeat violence is charged as a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by:
- up to 1 year in jail or 12 months of probation; and
- $1,000 in fines.
In serious situations, the violator can be charged with a third degree felony of aggravated stalking if they commit multiple violations intended to harass or threaten the protected individual(s). Such a crime is punishable by:
- up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation; and
- $5,000 in fines.
Is It Possible to Enforce an Out-of-State Order?
If you have a protection order from another state, your order can be enforced in Florida as long as it meets the following federal requirements:
- it was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or another person from coming near you or contacting you;
- the court that issued the order had the authority (jurisdiction) to hear the case;
- the abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell their side of the story regardless of whether they appeared in court.
While Florida can enforce a protective order from another state, it cannot enforce child custody or support provisions in the order until the order is domesticated (formally recorded) in a Florida court. Keep in mind that this process will notify the respondent that the injunction has been filed in Florida. You cannot further modify, extend, or cancel an out-of-state protection order in Florida; to do so you must go back to the original court that issued the order.
If you have a restraining order against someone, you have every right to ensure the court enforces it. A protective injunction is legally binding, and even a slight violation of the terms warrants serious penalties – even if you agree to a one-off in-person meeting that violates the stay-away terms, for instance. An efficient (and effective) way the court can enforce a protective injunction is by issuing criminal penalties to those who violate it.
Contact us at the Law Office of Russell S. Hershkowitz, L.L.C. to discuss your legal options for enforcement today.