In Florida, an “injunction” is a court order issued by a circuit court that prohibits
or restricts a person’s ability to have contact with another person. Florida injunctions
are frequently referred to as “restraining orders,” and are frequently issued in
cases involving allegations of domestic violence. A violation of an injunction for
protection against domestic violence is classified as a first degree misdemeanor,
with penalties of up 365 days in jail or 12 months probation, and a $1,000.00 fine.
If you have been charged with a violation of a domestic violence injunction in Jacksonville,
Duval County, Nassau County, or Clay County Florida, contact an experienced Jacksonville
criminal defense lawyer immediately. Injunction violation offenses are vigorously
prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney and attorney is critical for avoiding
or minimizing potential penalties.
Definition of Domestic Violence Injunction- Florida
In Florida, a Domestic Violence Injunction (Injunction for Protection Against Domestic
Violence) is court order, issued in connection with a prior “domestic violence” petition,
that restricts or prohibits family or household members from having contact with
Under Section 741.30, Florida Statutes, any person who is either the victim of domestic
violence or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming
the victim of any act of domestic violence, has standing in the circuit court to
file a sworn petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence.
A petition may also be filed by family or household members. If the Circuit Court
grants the petition (or if the court issues a temporary injunction prior to the formal
hearing on the injunction) then the respondent becomes subject to a domestic violence
injunction (Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence).
Penalties for Violating a Domestic Violence Injunction in Florida
In Florida, a violation of a domestic violence injunction, dating violence injunction,
sexual violence injunction, or repeat violence injunction is treated as a first degree
misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. In some cases, a person can be
charged with the felony offense of “Aggravated Stalking” if there are multiple violations
of the injunction and the violations are calculated to harass or threaten.
How is a Domestic Violence Injunction Different From Other Injunctions in Florida
a. Repeat Violence Injunction
Section 784.046(2), Florida Statutes, creates a cause of action for an injunction
for protection in cases of “repeat violence.” “Repeat violence” means two incidents
of violence or stalking committed by the respondent, one of which must have been
within 6 months of the filing of the petition, which are directed against the petitioner
or the petitioner’s immediate family member. The sworn petition shall allege the
incidents of repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence and shall include
the specific facts and circumstances that form the basis upon which relief is sought.
b. Sexual Violence Injunction
Section 784.046, Florida Statutes, also creates a right to pursue an injunction for
“sexual violence.” sexual violence means any one incident of Sexual battery (as
defined in Chapter 794, Florida Statutes), a lewd or lascivious act (as defined in
chapter 800) committed upon or in the presence of a person younger than 16 years
of age, luring or enticing a child (described in chapter 787), sexual performance
by a child (described in Chapter 827), and any other forcible felony wherein a sexual
act is committed or attempted. A sexual violence injunction may be sought by a petitioner
regardless of whether criminal charges based on the incident were filed, reduced,
or dismissed by the state attorney.
c. Dating Violence Injunction
An injunction may also be sought for any person who is the victim of “dating violence”
and has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the
victim of another act of dating violence. “Dating violence” is defined as violence
between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship
of a romantic or intimate nature. To constitute a continuing and significant relationship,
a dating relationship must have existed within the past 6 months, the relationship
must have been characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement
between the parties, and the persons must have been involved over time and on a continuous
basis during the course of the relationship. Thus, the term “dating violence” does
not include violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals
who only have engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.
Ways to Violate a Domestic Violence Injunction
There are innumerable ways to violate a Florida injunction, and the best source to
avoid a violation is the court order itself. Depending on the specifics of the injunction,
a person may be charged with an injunction violation for any of the following:
Refusing to leave or vacate the dwelling or home that the parties share;
Going to, or being within 500 feet of, the petitioner’s residence, school, place
of employment, or a specified place frequented regularly by the petitioner and any
named family or household member;
Committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner;
Committing any other violation of the injunction through an intentional unlawful
threat, word, or act to do violence to the petitioner;
Telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner directly
or indirectly, unless the injunction specifically allows indirect contact through
a third party;
Knowingly and intentionally coming within 100 feet of the petitioner’s motor vehicle,
whether or not that vehicle is occupied;
Defacing or destroying the petitioner’s personal property, including the petitioner’s
motor vehicle; or
Refusing to surrender firearms or ammunition if ordered to do so by the court
How Long Does an Injunction Last in Florida?
The best source is the court order itself. Read the injunction carefully, as the
length of time can vary widely from case to case. Also keep in mind that, under
Section 784.046(7)(c), Florida Statutes, a Circuit Court Judge can order that an
injunction remain in full force and effect permanently. This could mean that the
injunction will last forever unless it is modified or dissolved by the issuing court.
Although either person may ask the court to modify or dissolve the injunction, neither
party may change the terms of the injunction without obtaining the permission of
the court first. Contact an experienced Jacksonville injunction violation lawyer
and criminal defense lawyer before seeking a modification.
What if the Other Person Wants Contact?
Stay away. Many people who are subjected to domestic violence injunctions in Florida
make the mistake of assuming that the person who petitioned for the injunction can
decide whether resuming contact is permissible. This is not the case. An injunction,
once granted, must be modified through a court hearing before a Circuit Court Judge. Even
if you and the petitioner have reconciled and the relationship is amicable in every
respect, you can still be charged with violating the injunction. Remember: the essence
of the offense is that there is a violation of a court order. The petitioner can
not modify or lift that order without leave of court. Note that Section 784.046(13),
Florida Statutes, gives law enforcement the discretion to arrest and charge you for
a violation of an injunction regardless of the “victim’s” consent to contact. Therefore,
the permission of the “victim” will not stop an arrest.
Defenses to Violation of Injunction- Florida Law
There are multiple defenses available to contest a Florida injunction violation charge.
The more common defenses raised in injunction cases are as follows:
Lack of Intent to Violate- to constitute a violation of an injunction in Florida,
the State must prove that the defendant willfully violated the injunction. To be
“willful,” the defendant’s actions in violating the court’s order (as contained in
the injunction) must be done “knowingly, intentionally, and purposely.” Often, the
defendant was not aware of the full scope of the injunction’s prohibitions, or believed
that his or her actions were in compliance with the injunction. If the violation
was not willful, this can serve as a complete defense to the charge.
Lack of Notice of Injunction- notice of an injunction is an essential element of
the charge of violating its provisions. Cordova v. State, 675 So. 2d 632, 634 (Fla.
Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist. 1996); Thus, a conviction can not be sustained and a Motion
for Judgment of Acquittal must be granted where the State fails to prove that the
defendant was served with the injunction or had some other notice. See Robinson
v. State, 840 So. 2d 1138, 1139 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003) (reversing trial court’s denial
of defendant’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal where the State failed to establish
that the accused knew the permanent injunction had been entered against him, either
through proof that the accused had been served with the permanent injunction, or
through proof that the accused had some other notice).
Other Injunction Issued / Conflicting Injunction- occasionally, a defendant accused
of violating an injunction is, at the time of the alleged violation, subject to two
conflicting injunction orders. If this is the case, then the alleged violation of
one injunction is arguably not willful, so long as the defendant complied with the
other injunction and believed that the other injunction was the one that had legal
effect at the time of the alleged offense.
Mistake as to the Meaning, Effect, or Scope of the Injunction- a mistaken belief
as to the meaning, effect, or scope of an injunction, if reasonable and well founded,
can provide a defense to an injunction violation charge. If there is a good faith
mistake or misunderstanding, then the violation is arguably not willful. One common
example is where a defendant is ordered to have “no contact” with the alleged victim.
Most of the time, judges do not explain the full scope of the no contact provision
to respondents. Thus, it can be unclear whether “no contact” means only direct contact,
or whether it encompasses indirect, third party contact.
No Intentional Contact- where the injunction orders a defendant to have “no contact”
with the alleged victim, the State must establish that the contact in question occurred
intentionally. Thus, if a defendant communicates to third party about the alleged
victim and the third party (a family member, friend, or colleague), without the defendant
asking, relays the message to the victim, this is not intentional.
. . .
If you have been charged with a violation of a domestic violence injunction, dating
violence injunction, repeat violence injunction, or sexual violence injunction in
Jacksonville, FL, you may have defenses available to fight the charge or to minimize
potential penalties. Contact an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Attorney today
for a free consultation.