Defending Domestic Violence Injunction Case in Hillsborough County, FL

If you were just served with an injunction for protection against domestic violence then you have come to the right place. The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm defend both men and women in these types of cases against unfounded or exaggerated allegations of violence.

We only represent the Respondent in these types of cases. Our offices are located in downtown Tampa, just a few blocks from the courthouse. Our attorneys are experienced in aggressively defending these actions in both the Tampa Courthouse and the Plant City Courthouse. 

For Hillsborough County, FL, we represent clients in petitions for protective orders (injunctions or restraining orders) against domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, and stalking.

Contact us to find out how to win your injunction for protection hearing. Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case.

I've just been served with a petition for a protective order against domestic violence, what now?

For cases in Tampa, Florida, a petitioner for a violence injunction will be heard in the Circuit Court Division "G" and "H." 

Injunctions for protection in the Tampa Courthouse are assigned to Division G in courtroom 302 or Division H in courtroom 303 in the Edgecomb building at 800 E. Twiggs St., Tampa, FL.

For violence injunction cases in Plant City, Florida, the hearing takes place in the East Circuit Division "S" and East Circuit Division "V." The location where one party resides determines whether a filing in the East Division is appropriate.

For violence injunction cases in the Plant City courthouse assigned in division "S" are heard by The Honorable Art E. McNeil in courtroom 1, and in Division "V" are heard by the Honorable Richard A. Weis in courtroom 3 at 301 North Michigan Ave., Plant City, FL 33563.

What is a violence injunction?

Under Florida law, the term "violence injunction" is defined to include injunctions for protection against domestic violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, dating violence, or stalking. These types of actions are commonly referred to as "restraining orders."

Under Florida law, no bond is ever required for entry of an injunction. Florida Statute § 741.30(2)(b). Likewise, the Petitioner does not have to pay any filing fee or suffer an expense at all.

How did the Petitioner get the injunction for protection?

The courts make it very easy for anyone to file for an injunction for protection. The petitioner can file for a Protection Against Violence at several different locations including: 
  • Family Law Department located on the first floor of the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse at 800 E. Twiggs St. in downtown Tampa. 
    • The hours of operation are 8 AM until 5 PM, Monday through Friday. 
    • Petitions for protection are accepted for filing until 5 PM. 
    • On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays the hours are 7 AM to 10 AM.
    • The phone number is (813) 276-8100 Ext. 4356. 
  • Plant City Courthouse Annex located at 301 N. Michigan Avenue, Plant City, FL. 
    • The hours of operation are 8 AM until 5 PM, Monday through Friday. 
    • Petitions are accepted for filing until 4 PM. 
    • The phone number is (813) 276-8100 Ext. 4524.
For individuals that need to file a petition for Protection Against Domestic Violence outside the hours of operation for the courthouse, they may contact local law enforcement for assistance or the Spring of Tampa Bay, a Domestic Violence Shelter, servicing Hillsborough County. By calling (813) 247-7233, the shelter will help the person arrange to complete the necessary paperwork.

The clerk's office even provides assistance with processing Injunctions for Protection Against Violence on non-business days for the Clerk's Office including weekends and holidays. The staff is available during these times from 7AM until 10AM at the Edgecomb Courthouse, 800 E Twiggs St.

Common Defenses in Domestic Violence Injunction Case

The Petitioner Must Have Standing to Bring the Petition

When defending against a domestic violence injunction in Hillsborough County, including in Tampa or Plant City, Florida, one of the first issues to consider is whether the Petitioner has standing. 

Under Florida law, the Petitioner and Respondent must be domestically related which means they must be either family or household members. Florida Statute §741.30(1)(e). Florida Statute §741.28(3) provides a definition for the term “family or household member.” 

Under Florida law, the term "family or household member" means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently living together as if a family or who have lived together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child together regardless of whether or not they have been married or lived together.

With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing together or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit. Florida Statute § 741.28(3).

The Petitioner can bring the action on behalf of the minor child. Those actions list the Petitioner as the “next best friend” of the child.

Minimum Residency Requirement for Restraining Orders in Florida

In a domestic violence injunction cases, there is no minimum residency requirement. In other words, even if the Petitioner just moved to Hillsborough County, the Petitioner can still file the petition for a protective order against domestic violence at the Tampa or Plant City Courthouse. 

A petition for protection against domestic violence may be filed in the circuit where the petitioner currently or temporarily resides, where the respondent resides, or where the domestic violence occurred. Florida Statutes § 741.30(1)(j).

In the petition for a protective order against domestic violence, the Petitioner must allege sufficient facts to show that the Petitioner is a victim of domestic violence or in imminent danger of becoming a victim. Florida Statute § 741.30(1)(a).

Florida Statute § 741.28(2) defines the term "domestic violence" to include any criminal offense results in physical injury or death to one family or household member by another family or household member, specifically including but not limited to the following: 
  • assault;
  • aggravated assault;
  • battery;
  • aggravated battery;
  • sexual assault; 
  • sexual battery; 
  • stalking; 
  • aggravated stalking; 
  • kidnapping; or 
  • false imprisonment.

Reasonable Cause of Imminent Danger of Domestic Violence

In determining whether Petitioner has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, the courts in Tampa or Plant City, Hillsborough County, FL, must consider all relevant factors alleged in the petition for injunction for protection against domestic violence, including, but not limited to:
  • 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. § 741.30(6)(b).
  • Whether the respondent has used or has threatened to use, against the petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives.
  • Whether the respondent has threatened to conceal, kidnap, or harm the petitioner’s child or children.
  • The history between the petitioner and the respondent, including threats, harassment, stalking, and physical abuse.
  • Whether the respondent has attempted to harm the petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with the petitioner.
  • Whether the respondent has a criminal history involving violence or the threat of violence.
  • Whether the respondent has intentionally injured or killed a family pet.
  • Whether the respondent has physically restrained the petitioner from leaving the home or calling law enforcement.
  • The existence of a verifiable order of protection issued previously or from another jurisdiction.
  • Whether the respondent has destroyed personal property, including, but not limited to, telephones or other communication equipment, clothing, or other items belonging to the petitioner.

Ex-Parte Injunctions (Also Known as the "Temporary Injunction")

When reviewing the petition for a protective order on an ex-parte basis, the court must determine whether it appears to the court that an immediate and present danger of domestic violence exists. Florida Statute § 741.30(5)(a).

The court can only consider the verified pleadings or affidavits unless the Respondent appears at the hearing or has received reasonable notice of the hearing. Florida Statute § 741.30(5)(b).

The Court can either grant or deny the ex parte (temporary) injunction either with a return hearing or without a return hearing.
  • If the court finds no basis for the issuance of an injunction, the petition may be denied without a return hearing; however, a denial of a petition for an ex-parte (temporary) injunction shall be by written order noting the legal grounds for denial. Florida Statute § 741.30(5)(b).
  • When the only ground for denial is no appearance of the immediate or present danger of domestic violence, the petition for ex parte (temporary) injunction may be denied but the court shall set a full hearing on the petition for injunction with notice at the earliest possible time. Florida Statute § 741.30(5)(b). 
If the ex parte (temporary) injunction is granted and any such temporary injunction shall be effective for a fixed period not to exceed 15 days. Florida Statute § 741.30(5)(c). A full hearing shall be set for a date no later than the date when the temporary injunction ceases to be effective. Florida Statute § 741.30(5)(c).

Making a Request for a Continuance

The court may grant a continuance of the hearing before or during a hearing for good cause shown by either party, which shall include a continuance to obtain service of process. § 741.30(5)(c).

Any injunction shall be extended if necessary to remain in full force and effect during any period of continuance. § 741.30(5)(c).

What Relief Can the Court Grant in the Ex-Parte or Temporary Injunction

If the court grants the ex-parte or temporary injunction, then the court has a wide range of relief that can be granted to the Petitioner to restrain the conduct of the Petitioner such as:
  • Restraining the respondent from committing any acts of domestic violence against the petitioner or any member of the petitioner’s family or household members. § 741.30(5)(a)1.
  • Restraining the respondent from contact with the petitioner or any member of the petitioner’s immediate family or household. Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms 12.98(c)(1) and (c)(2).
  • Awarding the petitioner temporary exclusive use and occupancy of the dwelling that the parties share or excluding the respondent from the residence of the petitioner. § 741.30(5)(a)
  • Excluding the respondent from going to the petitioner’s place of employment or school. Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms 12.980(c)(1) and (c)(2).
  • Excluding the respondent from places frequented regularly by the petitioner and/or any named family or household member of the petitioner. Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms 12.980(c)(1) and (c)(2).
  • Awarding temporary custody of a minor child or children of the parties on the same basis as provided in section 61.13. § 741.30(5)(a)3. A UCCJEA form must be filed by the petitioner if seeking such relief. § 741.30(3)(d).
  • Ordering the respondent to surrender any firearms and ammunition in his or her possession to the specified sheriff’s office pending further order of the court. Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.980(c)(2).
  • Ordering such other relief as the court deems necessary for the protection of a victim of domestic violence, including injunctions or directives to law enforcement agencies as provided in this section. § 741.30(6)(a)7.

The Final or Permanent Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence

The courts in Hillsborough County, including Tampa or Plant City, Florida, must allow certain advocates to be present with the petitioner or respondent during any court proceedings or hearings related to the injunction for protection, provided the petitioner or respondent has made such a request and the advocate is able to be present. Florida Statute § 741.30(7) including:
  • an advocate from a state attorney’s office;
  • an advocate from a law enforcement agency; or 
  • an advocate from a certified domestic violence center who is registered under Florida Statute section 39.905
All proceedings shall be recorded. Recording may be by electronic means as provided by the Rules of Judicial Administration. § 741.30(6)(h).

Upon notice and hearing, when it appears to the court that the petitioner is a victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim, the court may grant such relief as the court deems proper. § 741.30(6)(a).

If Granted at the Return Hearing, How Long with the Injunction Last?

The final judgment of injunction for protection against domestic violence may be effective
  • indefinitely; 
  • until modified or dissolved by the judge at either party’s request, upon notice and hearing; or
  • expire on a date certain at the judge’s discretion. 
See Florida Statute § 741.30(5)(c), Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.980(e).
The final injunction order must include the statement that the respondent (unless the Respondent is a law enforcement officer defined in section 943.10 holding an active certification) may not have in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm or ammunition. Florida Statute § 741.30(6)(g), § 790.233(1).

What Relief Can the Court Grant in the Final or Permanent Injunction

In addition to the types of possible relief listed in the ex-parte temporary injunction above, the court may also:
  • Establish temporary support for a minor child or children or the petitioner.
  • The temporary support, custody, and or visitation provisions that are established in a permanent domestic violence injunction remain in effect until the order expires or an order, which addresses support, custody, and or visitation, is entered in a pending or subsequent civil action. §741.30(6)(a)3.,4.
  • Refer the petitioner to a certified domestic violence center. The court must provide the petitioner with a list of certified domestic violence centers in the circuit. § 741.30(6)(a)6.
  • Order counseling for any minor children and order any other provisions relating to minor children. Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.980(d)(1). Order a substance abuse and/or mental health evaluation for the respondent and order the respondent to attend any treatment recommended by the evaluation(s). § 741.30(6)(a)5.
  • Establish the type of contact/visitation with the minor child(ren) that the noncustodial parent may have. Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.980(d)(1).
  • Establish temporary alimony. Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms 12.980(d)(1) and (2).
  • Order the respondent to enroll and complete a certified batterers’ intervention program. It is mandatory that such programs be certified under section 741.32. If the court orders the respondent to this type of program the court must provide the respondent with a list of all certified batterers’ intervention programs and all programs that have submitted an application to DCF to become certified. § 741.30(6)(a)5.
Unless the court makes written factual findings in its judgment or order which are based on substantial evidence, stating why batterers’ intervention programs would be inappropriate, the court shall order the respondent to attend a batterers’ intervention program if:
  1. It finds that the respondent willfully violated the ex parte injunction;
  2. The respondent, in this state or any other state, has been convicted of, had adjudication withheld on, or pled nolo contendere to a crime involving violence or a threat of violence; or
  3. At any time in the past in this state or another state, an injunction has been entered against the respondent after a hearing with notice. § 741.30(6)(e).

What Does the Final Written Order Say?

The order will typically indicate on its face that:
  • The injunction is valid and enforceable in all counties in Florida. § 741.30(6)(d)1.
  • Law enforcement officers may use their arrest powers pursuant to section 901.15(6) to enforce the terms of the injunction. § 741.30(6)(d)2.
  • The court had jurisdiction over the parties and matter.
  • Reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard was given to the Respondent sufficient to protect that person’s right to due process. § 741.30(6)(d)3.
  • The date respondent was served with the temporary or final order, if obtainable. § 741.30(6)(d)4.
Florida law also sets out certain special requirement for final injunctions including the following:
  • A final injunction must, on its face, indicate that it is a violation of section 790.233, and a first degree misdemeanor, for respondent to have in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm or ammunition. § 741.30(6)(g).

How are Domestic Violence Injunctions Enforced?

The Florida legislature has expressed an intention that domestic violence should be treated as a criminal act rather than a private matter. Consequently, in the Tampa and Plant City courtrooms in Hillsborough County, FL, criminal prosecution are the favored method of enforcing compliance with injunctions. Florida Statute § 741.2901(2).

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has established and maintains a Domestic, Dating, Sexual and Repeat Violence Injunction Statewide Verification System capable of electronically transmitting information to and between criminal justice agencies relating to domestic violence injunctions issued by the courts throughout the state. 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) must have the respondent’s name, race, sex, and date of birth.

The court may enforce a violation of an injunction for protection against domestic violence through a civil or criminal contempt proceeding, or the state attorney may prosecute it as a criminal violation under Florida Statute Section 741.31. 

The court may enforce the respondent’s compliance with the injunction through any appropriate civil and criminal remedies, including but not limited to, a monetary assessment or fine. Florida Statute § 741.30(9)(a).

Finding the Best Attorney for a Violence Injunction Case in Tampa or Plant City, FL

Injunction cases are serious and come with a lifetime of consequences. If you were served with a petition for a protective order against domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence or stalking, then contact an experienced attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. 

Read more about how we fight domestic violence injunction cases in Hillsborough County, FL.

In the meantime, read the paperwork carefully. Be extremely careful not to do anything to violate the letter or spirit of the injunction. 

Make sure that your family and friends know not to contact the Petitioner in any way on your behalf while the case is pending. Seek out advice from a qualified attorney. 

Call 813-250-0500.

This article was last updated on Thursday, September 3, 2020.

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