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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 1 year in jail or 12 months probation, and a $1,000 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 one another.

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).

For additional information about how injunctions are obtained in Florida, visit our How to Obtain an Injunction web page.   

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 classified as a first degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 1 year in jail or 12 months probation and a $1000 fine. 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?

Repeat Violence Injunctions

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.

Sexual Violence Injunctions

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.

Dating Violence Injunctions

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 in Florida

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:

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 in Florida

There are multiple defenses available to contest a Florida injunction violation charge.  The more common defenses raised in injunction cases are as follows:

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.