Attorney for Hearings on Petition for Protection Against Domestic Violence or Repeat Violence in Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, FL

So you were just served with a Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Repeat Violence or Domestic Violence in Tampa or Plant City for Hillsborough County, FL?

This article discusses general information to help you spot the issues presented in many of these cases. However, in order to obtain advice about what you should do next you must contact an attorney to discuss the particular facts of your case.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm provide free consultations to talk with anyone served with a temporary injunction for protection against repeat violence or domestic violence for Hillsborough County or the surrounding counties of Pasco, Pinellas, or Polk County, FL.

Leslie Sammis has more than ten years experience fighting domestic violence cases to protect her clients from the impact of false or exaggerated accusations. Call 813-250-0500 to talk directly with the attorney about the case. 

Last Updated on September 9, 2013

Judges for Restraining / Protective Order Hearings in Tampa

Currently, the hearings for the temporary injunctions for protection against repeat violence (or domestic violence) are heard in front of one of these three Circuit Court Judges for Hillsborough County, FL:
  • The Honorable Frances M. Perrone, judge for repeat violence, dating, stalking or domestic violence injunction hearings in Division "G" in courtroom 302 in the Edgecomb Building at 800 East Twiggs Street, Tampa, FL 33602.
  • The Honorable Scott A. Farr, judge for for repeat violence, dating, stalking or domestic violence injunction hearings) at courtroom 303, Division "H" at 800 East Twiggs Street, Tampa, FL 33602.
Judges for Restraining / Protective Order Hearings in Plant City, FL
  • For cases in Plant City, the case will be assigned to Division "S" before The Honorable Art E. McNeil in courtroom 1 (for repeat violence, dating, stalking or domestic violence injunction hearings) in courtroom P-1 at the Plant City Courthouse at 302 North Michigan Avenue, Plant City, FL 33563.
  • Cases in Plant City can also be assigned to Division "V" before The Honorable Dick Greco, Jr., in courtroom 2 at 301 North Michigan Ave., Plant City, FL 33563.
Consequences of a Domestic Violence or Repeat Violence Injunction

You should talk with an attorney about the possible consequences that can occur if the court finds a sufficient basis to issue a Temporary or Final Judgment of Injunction for Protection Against Repeat Violence or Domestic Violence. These consequences can include:
  1. Not being able to return to a certain location including your home or place of business;
  2. Not being able to see your children; 
  3. Losing your right to possess a firearm or dangerous weapon while the injunction is in effect; and
  4. Having the allegations in the petition and the fact that an injunction was granted show up in any basic background check for the rest of your life. 
Reasons to Request a Continuance so Your Attorney Can be Completely Prepared

The hearing is your one chance to present testimony from witnesses such as neighbors or police officers. It is also your one chance to provide the court with relevant documents that may show that the allegations against you are false or exaggerated.

In many of these cases the hearing is scheduled within a few days or a few weeks of when the petition for the injunction is served on the Respondent. Often this very short period of time is insufficient to be properly prepared for the hearing.

Your attorney may need to obtain police reports, subpoena witnesses to testify at the hearing, and locate documents such as prior legal filings between the parties, text messages, e-mail records, comments on Facebook or other social media profiles, and/or phone records.

Your attorney may also need additional time to subpoena the Petitioner (the one making the allegations of domestic violence or repeat violence) to testify at depositions. Your attorney can also find out what exhibits or witnesses the Petitioner intends to present at the hearing.

Depositions give your attorney an opportunity to question the petitioner under oath about the allegations prior to the actual hearing. In these cases in which your attorney needs additional time to be prepared for the hearing, your attorney can ask the court for a continuance after showing good cause for the request. 

Tampa Protective Order / Restraining Order Attorney Warning: Do not violate the letter or spirit of the temporary injunction. Do not contact the Petitioner in any way for any reason including text, phone calls, letters, flowers, or messages through a third party. Read the order carefully. Do not return to the home to retrieve your personal items without a police escort.

Obtaining Experienced Representation at an Injunction Hearing in Tampa or Plant City, FL

If you were served with an injunction for protection against domestic violence or repeat violence then contact an attorney to discuss the facts of your case. You may decide not to contest the injunction. However, if the allegations are false or exaggerated then you may decide to hire an attorney to represent you at the hearing. Our offices are located in downtown Tampa.

We represent Respondents at the hearings on petitions for an order of protection against repeat violence or domestic violence in Tampa and Plant City, FL.

Related domestic violence charges prosecuted in state court can include: domestic violence battery, assault, aggravated battery by strangulation, battery on a pregnant female, false imprisonment and interference with a 911 call. 

New Florida Firearm Laws Approved by Senate

Florida's New Firearm Laws

The Florida Senate passed two important bills that protect citizens from unfair prosecutions related to the possession of a firearm. This new legislation gives advocates for gun rights throughout Florida reason to celebrate.

  • House Bill 45, which was substituted for Senate Bill 402 based by a 30-8 margin. This bill prohibits local governments from passing their own patchwork of gun laws that would vary from one part of the state to another. This bill has already passed and is waiting to be signed by Governor Rick Scott. Gun rights advocates consider this bill an important piece of legislation that prevents unfair prosecutions as individuals travel from one part of the state to another. Individuals are often unaware of small difference in the laws related to firearm possession in various cities or counties throughout the state.
  • Senate Bill 234, known as the "accidental display bill" provides a defense to the second degree misdemeanor offense of carrying a firearm in open view under Florida Statute Section 790.053 and may possibly impact the first degree misdemeanor of improper exhibition of a firearm. The bill was approved by a margin of 26-11. This bill started off as an "open carry” law but was watered down to decriminalize the accidental showing of a concealed weapon. Although the bill was watered down, it may still provides a very important protection against Florida's broad statute concerning the "improper" exhibition of a firearm.
Careless Exhibition of a Firearm under Florida Law

We all know that Florida law allows a person who possesses a valid permit to carry a "concealed" weapon. Many people do not realize that it is a first degree misdemeanor to "carelessly" exhibit the firearm to another. This misdemeanor crime is one of the most commonly prosecuted firearm charge in Florida, although it is unclear how many times these prosecutions involve careless acts as opposed to intentional acts since the statute allows either. 

Florida Statute Section 790.10 is entitled, "improper exhibition of dangerous weapons or firearms." The statute provides as follows:
"if any person having or carrying any . . . weapon shall, in the presence of one or more (other) persons, exhibit the same in a rude, careless, angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self defense, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree".
Florida's New Law on Carrying Firearm in Open View

The new statutory language provides:
    2         An act relating to firearms; amending s. 790.053,
    3         F.S.; providing that a person who is licensed to carry
    4         a concealed firearm is not in violation of law if the
    5         firearm is briefly and openly displayed under certain
    6         circumstances; amending s. 790.06, F.S.; allowing the
    7         Division of Licensing of the Department of Agriculture
    8         and Consumer Services to take fingerprints from
    9         concealed carry license applicants; providing that a
   10         person may not openly carry a weapon or firearm or
   11         carry a concealed weapon or firearm into specified
   12         locations; providing that concealed carry licensees
   13         shall not be prohibited from carrying or storing a
   14         firearm in a vehicle for lawful purposes; providing
   15         that a provision limiting the scope of a license to
   16         carry a concealed weapon or firearm does not modify
   17         certain exceptions to prohibited acts with respect to
   18         a person’s right to keep and bear arms in motor
   19         vehicles for certain purposes; repealing s. 790.28,
   20         F.S., relating to the purchase of rifles and shotguns
   21         in contiguous states; amending s. 790.065, F.S.;
   22         providing that specified provisions do not apply to
   23         certain firearms transactions by a resident of this
   24         state; providing an effective date.
   26  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   28         Section 1. Subsection (1) of section 790.053, Florida
   29  Statutes, is amended to read:
   30         790.053 Open carrying of weapons.—
   31         (1) Except as otherwise provided by law and in subsection
   32  (2), it is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about
   33  his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device. It
   34  is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to
   35  carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who
   36  is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly
   37  and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another
   38  person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an
   39  angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.
   40         Section 2. Paragraph (c) of subsection (5) and subsection
   41  (12) of section 790.06, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
   42         790.06 License to carry concealed weapon or firearm.—
   43         (5) The applicant shall submit to the Department of
   44  Agriculture and Consumer Services:
   45         (c) A full set of fingerprints of the applicant
   46  administered by a law enforcement agency or the Division of
   47  Licensing of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
   48  Services.
   49         (12)(a)A No license issued under pursuant to this section
   50  does not shall authorize any person to openly carry a handgun or
   51  carry a concealed weapon or firearm into:
   52         1. Any place of nuisance as defined in s. 823.05;
   53         2. Any police, sheriff, or highway patrol station;
   54         3. Any detention facility, prison, or jail;
   55         4. Any courthouse;
   56         5. Any courtroom, except that nothing in this section would
   57  preclude a judge from carrying a concealed weapon or determining
   58  who will carry a concealed weapon in his or her courtroom;
   59         6. Any polling place;
   60         7. Any meeting of the governing body of a county, public
   61  school district, municipality, or special district;
   62         8. Any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof;
   63         9. Any school, college, or professional athletic event not
   64  related to firearms;
   65         10. Any elementary or secondary school facility or
   66  administration building;
   67         11. Any career center;
   68         12. Any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense
   69  alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which
   70  portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such
   71  purpose; any elementary or secondary school facility; any career
   72  center;
   73         13. Any college or university facility unless the licensee
   74  is a registered student, employee, or faculty member of such
   75  college or university and the weapon is a stun gun or nonlethal
   76  electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes
   77  and the weapon does not fire a dart or projectile;
   78         14. The inside of the passenger terminal and sterile area
   79  of any airport, provided that no person shall be prohibited from
   80  carrying any legal firearm into the terminal, which firearm is
   81  encased for shipment for purposes of checking such firearm as
   82  baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft; or
   83         15. Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited
   84  by federal law.
   85         (b) A person licensed under this section shall not be
   86  prohibited from carrying or storing a firearm in a vehicle for
   87  lawful purposes.
   88         (c) This section does not modify the terms or conditions of
   89  s. 790.251(7).
   90         (d) Any person who knowingly and willfully violates any
   91  provision of this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second
   92  degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

When does a careless or inadvertent exhibition of a firearm occur?

So if a person is lawfully carrying a concealed weapon that is inadvertently displayed then the misdemeanor offense can be alleged and prosecuted. How would such an inadvertent display occur? Possible situations that could be impacted by this new legislation could include the following:
  • A man has a firearm in a holster on his belt. The wind blows his jacket away from his body and a bystander sees the firearm on his belt and becomes concerned.
  • A woman has a firearm in her purse. While standing in line in the grocery store the woman reaches into the purse to get a wallet and the person in line behind her sees the firearm in the bag and becomes concerned.
  • A person with a concealed weapon repositions the weapon in a manner that makes it visible to another person.
  • A person leaves a firearm in a bag that is within reach of a child or teenager and another person becomes concerned and calls the police.
Why have a criminal charge that doesn't require a willful act?

Most criminal offenses in Florida require a showing that the person accused committed the act willfully, intentionally and with knowledge. The improper exhibition statute, however, allowed for the much lower showing that the person accused acted "carelessly." That determination of whether the defendant was careless or not in exhibiting the firearm might ultimately be decided by the jury at trial.

But even in questionable cases the individual could be arrested, driven to the jail, booked into the jail, required to post bond, forced to hire a criminal defense attorney, and then appear in court for pre-trial hearings in order to fight the criminal charge. If you think that overly aggressive prosecutions don't occur then think again. Prosecutors often say they have "no discretion" when it comes to firearms cases. Many prosecutors believe any firearm charge must be prosecuted aggressively.

Does Florida's Senate Bill 234 known as the "accidental display bill" really matter?

Although some may argue that "careless" exhibitions are rarely prosecuted, it is hard to imagine any "careless" exhibition that should be prosecuted if the person did not act willfully and with knowledge.

Case law indicates that the firearm must be displayed in a manner that a "reasonable person" might think they could get accidentally shot or in a manner that is "blatantly offensive." Who decides what conduct is "blantantly offensive"?  Florida has very little case law that defines or limits this standard under particular factual situations.

These standards are difficult to apply in many circumstances. Law enforcement officers often make an arrest first and ask questions later, so by using a "careless" standards instead of a "willful" standard overly aggressive or selective prosecutions could occur. 

What do you think of the proposed legislation?

It is already well-settled under Florida law that it is an affirmative defense if the weapon is displayed in the course of acting in lawful self-defense. What will the impact of this new legislation be on the prosecution of cases for an "accidental display" or "careless" exhibition of a firearm?