For Your Protection: Guide to Restraining Orders in Florida

Different types of restraining orders in Florida exist to protect people from violence and trauma. Whether you are experiencing verbal or physical abuse or other types of trauma, know that you shouldn’t have to deal with it one minute longer. A restraining order in Florida can protect you from a spouse, a partner, a friend, or another individual that is causing harm. 

The Five Types of Restraining Orders in Florida

It is not uncommon to have questions about the different types of protection from abuse. Florida law can be complicated. The five types of restraining orders in Florida are, in legal terms, called injunctions. They are as follows:

  1. Domestic Violence — an injunction used if stalking or violence has occurred or if the person has reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger — from a spouse, former spouse, persons related by blood or marriage who are residing or have resided together as a family, or individuals who are living together or have lived together as if family, or individuals who have a child in common
  2. Repeat Violence — an injunction used if there have been two acts of stalking or violence on two different occasions, with one of them occurring in the last six months — from a person who is a non-domestic or non-dating relation such as a neighbor or co-worker
  3. Stalking Violence — an injunction used if a person is intentionally harassing or following you for no legitimate purpose over a period of time, causing emotional distress; if/when these actions become threatening to harm you or threaten your life physically, then the stalking is classified as “aggravated.”
  4. Sexual Violence — an injunction used if any one of the following criteria are met: (1) the violence was reported to law enforcement, and you are cooperating with criminal proceedings, or (2) the offender was sentenced to prison, and the term has expired or is expiring within 90 days, and any one of the following has occurred (1) any forcible felony wherein a sexual act is attempted or committed (2) sexual battery (3) luring or enticing a child (4) lewd or lascivious act, committed in the presence of or upon a person younger than 16-years-old or (5) sexual performance by a child
  5. Dating Violence — an injunction used if stalking or violence has occurred, and the person has reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger — from a person (1) they have been dating within the last six months (2) they have had an affection for or expectation of a sexual relationship and (3) have been involved on a continuous basis over time — not including people who you have only fraternized within social or business contexts

The most important action here is to ensure that the proper type of restraining order in Florida is chosen and filed correctly. If this is not done, the judge could deny the petition for the injunction. Working with an experienced attorney is recommended to get the proper order of protection in Florida. 

Required Proof for a Restraining Order and How to Collect It

When seeking one of the types of restraining orders in Florida, it’s essential to present clear and convincing evidence to the court to prove the necessity of the injunction for your protection. Understanding what constitutes as adequate proof and knowing how to collect this evidence can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Here, we provide a detailed guide on the required proof for a restraining order and strategies for gathering this crucial evidence, maintaining an informative, empathetic, and empowering tone enriched with very specific facts.

Understanding What Counts as Proof

Proof, in the context of a restraining order, includes any form of evidence that can convincingly demonstrate the existence of abuse, stalking, violence, or a credible threat to your safety. This evidence must substantiate your claims and convince the court that the restraining order is necessary to prevent further harm. Specific types of proof may include:

  • Documented Injuries: Medical records, photographs of injuries, or reports from healthcare providers that detail any harm you’ve suffered as a result of the abuse. If you sustain injuries, seek medical attention promptly. Inform the healthcare provider that the injuries are the result of abuse so they can document it appropriately in your medical records.
  • Police Reports: Copies of any police reports filed in relation to instances of violence, threats, or stalking. If you’re the victim of violence, threats, or stalking, report these incidents to the police. Even if you choose not to press charges initially, having an official record can be critical evidence for your restraining order petition.
  • Communications: Text messages, emails, voicemails, or social media interactions that contain threats, harassment, or evidence of stalking behavior. Taking screenshots can help preserve evidence that might be deleted later.
  • Witness Statements: Written or recorded statements from individuals who have witnessed the abuse or its effects on you. This can include friends, family members, coworkers, or neighbors.
  • Personal Documentation: A detailed journal or log that records dates, times, and descriptions of incidents of abuse or threats, including any witnesses or police involvement.

When collecting evidence, it’s crucial to do so legally and ethically. Unauthorized recording of conversations without consent, for instance, may not be admissible in court and could potentially expose you to legal liability. Always consider consulting with an attorney to ensure your evidence-collection methods are legally sound.

Filing the Petition: How to File for A Restraining Order In Florida

Once the proper petition is filed, the judge will review it as quickly as possible. The petition should include as much detailed information as you can about the history of abuse/stalking, including severity and dates. The judge can then, if he/she deems it appropriate, issue a temporary restraining order (injunction) to protect you prior to the hearing. According to Florida Statutes, a temporary injunction will last no longer than 15 days. The date of the hearing will be set when the temporary order is put in place.

What Happens at a Restraining Order Hearing?

what happens when you get a restraining order in Florida

At the hearing, the evidence will be presented on why the restraining order should be filed against the abuser, which is the most crucial aspect of the process. The respondent may or may not show up at the hearing, but if they do, they have the right to provide evidence to counter your claims to have the restraining order put in place. 

The judge will consider all the evidence and then decide on whether to grant the final restraining order (injunction). If the order is granted, it will be more than 15 days and can give you even more protection than the original injunction. This final injunction may have a specific time period (such as one year), or it could have no expiration date. The injunction can be modified in the future if the judge decides it can be changed or dissolved.

An injunction is a civil matter, but if the abuser violates the order, then that would be considered a criminal act and would go on the person’s criminal record.  

How Do Restraining Orders Work in Florida?

The types of restraining orders in Florida, legally referred to as “injunctions for protection,” are designed to prevent further abuse by legally restricting an abuser’s actions toward the victim. The Florida Statutes, specifically sections 741.30, 784.046, and 784.0485, outline the laws governing restraining orders for cases of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, repeat violence, and stalking.

Once a restraining order is granted in Florida, it becomes immediately enforceable. Law enforcement officers have the authority to arrest and charge individuals who violate the terms of these orders. The specific restrictions imposed by a restraining order can vary widely but commonly include:

  • Prohibition of Contact: The respondent may be ordered to cease all forms of communication with the petitioner, including phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media interactions.
  • Physical Distance: The order may specify a minimum distance the respondent must maintain from the petitioner’s home, workplace, school, or other places frequently visited.
  • Exclusion from Property: The respondent might be required to vacate a shared residence and stay away from the petitioner’s property.
  • Custody and Visitation: In cases involving children, the order may temporarily address custody arrangements, often limiting the respondent’s access to the children.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Example 1: Jane Doe files a petition for a domestic violence injunction after her ex-partner, with whom she shares a child, threatens her physically. She includes documented texts of threats, a police report from a past incident, and photographs of damage to her property. A temporary injunction is granted immediately, and at the hearing, a final injunction is issued based on her evidence.
  • Example 2: John Smith seeks a stalking injunction against a former coworker who has been sending threatening emails and following him to public places. John provides emails, security footage showing the coworker’s presence at these places, and witness statements. A temporary injunction is granted, followed by a final injunction after the hearing.

In essence, each of these types of restraining orders in Florida work by legally binding the respondent to a set of specific conditions, the violation of which triggers legal consequences designed to reinforce the protective barrier around the petitioner.

Consequences of Violating a Restraining Order

Violating any of these types of restraining orders in Florida is a serious offense. The consequences depend on the nature of the violation but can include:

  • Arrest and Criminal Charges: A violation of a restraining order can lead to immediate arrest and criminal charges, which could result in jail time, fines, or both.
  • Increased Legal Restrictions: A violation may lead to the imposition of additional legal restrictions or an extension of the restraining order’s duration.
  • Impact on Custody and Visitation: For respondents with children, violating a restraining order can adversely affect custody arrangements and visitation rights, potentially resulting in limited or supervised access to children.

Common Questions

  • How quickly can I get a restraining order? Temporary injunctions can be issued without notice to the abuser and are often processed within a few hours to a day. The final injunction is decided upon at a hearing, which is usually scheduled within 15 days.
  • What happens if the abuser violates the injunction? Violating a restraining order is a criminal offense in Florida. If the abuser contacts you, comes near you, or otherwise breaches the terms of the injunction, they can be arrested.
  • What if the abuser lives in a different state? A restraining order filed in Florida is enforceable nationwide due to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. If the abuser lives in or moves to another state, the restraining order remains valid and enforceable. 
  • Can I obtain a restraining order against someone I don’t know, like a stalker? Yes, Florida law allows for restraining orders against unknown individuals in cases of stalking, including cyberstalking. When filing a petition, provide as much information as possible about the stalker, such as their physical description, vehicle information, or online identifiers.
  • Is it possible to modify or dissolve a restraining order? Either party can request the court to modify or dissolve a restraining order. The petitioner may seek adjustments to the terms or complete removal of the order if they feel safe or the circumstances have changed. Conversely, the respondent can request modifications or dissolution, but they must demonstrate a significant change in circumstances or prove that the order is no longer necessary.
  • Do I need a lawyer to file for a restraining order? While it is not required to have a lawyer to file for a restraining order in Florida, having legal representation can be beneficial, especially in complex cases or if the abuser has an attorney. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, prepare the necessary documentation, and represent you during the hearing.

Understanding how these types of restraining orders in Florida work is crucial for those seeking protection. This guide aims to illuminate the path with factual clarity and supportive guidance, ensuring you’re informed every step of the way in securing your safety and peace of mind.

Contact a Restraining Order & Injunctions Attorney

The different types of restraining orders in Florida are there exclusively for your safety and protection. If you have been enduring domestic violence, stalking, or other types of violence, know that you are not helpless and you are not alone. A restraining order and injunctions attorney can help you make the best legal decisions moving forward so you can be legally protected and safe.

If there are children involved, a domestic violence injunction in Florida can help you to protect the family. You and your children deserve to be safe.