‘Better Safe than Sorry’ Not a Sufficient Basis for Granting an Order of Protection

A single outburst proved to be inadequate to support an order of protection granted to a woman by a Martin County court. Since the accused man had never harmed or threatened the woman before or after the single incident, and the woman was not afraid of the man, there was no evidence that she was in “imminent danger” of suffering harm, and the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that a protective order was not warranted.

W.’s appearance in Circuit Court in Martin County represented the aftermath of the somewhat acrimonious end of her three-month relationship with T. In May 2013, while visiting a pool hall, W. allegedly made a statement that angered the man, and he insisted that they leave. Once inside his car, T. allegedly continued yelling and cursing at the woman and refused to stop the car so that she could get out. At the man’s house, W. allegedly grabbed her phone and dialed 911, but the man grabbed her arm and pulled the phone away. The woman allegedly left and went across the street, where the neighbors called police. No arrests were made.

A week later, the pair met so that each could return items that had been in the other’s residence. W. was unaccompanied, but T. did not threaten or physically harm the woman. The woman later sought an order of protection. She admitted that the man had no history of violence before or after the pool hall incident, and she did not express that she feared T., but testified that she had friends in law enforcement who told her to seek the order because it was “better to be safe than sorry.”

The trial court granted the order of protection. The appeals court concluded that this was improper. The law says that an order of protection is only appropriate if the alleged victim was in “imminent danger” of becoming the victim of another act of dating violence. W.’s case was essentially devoid of any evidence indicating that the woman was in any such imminent danger or reasonably feared being in danger. In fact, the evidence seemed to indicate the opposite. Just a week after the outburst, W. met T. with no one accompanying her. The exchange of belongings occurred without any indication of threats or violence.

Some might wonder why T. retained an attorney and litigated this case all the way to the appeals court. However, if someone is seeking out an order of protection against you, it is important to take the matter seriously, even if the accuser is someone with whom you no longer desire to have a relationship. A dating violence order can damage your reputation in the community and maybe cost you your job. If you and your accuser share children, the order may affect your custody and visitation rights regarding your children.

If someone has obtained an unwarranted order of protection against you, it is important that you address it proactively and aggressively, regardless of the status of your relationship with that accuser. For answers and advocacy regarding your order of protection issue, consult the South Florida family law attorneys of Sandy T. Fox, P.A.. Our attorneys can help you protect your rights and your reputation.

Contact us online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Understanding How to Protect Yourself Against Harassment, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Feb. 12, 2014
Court Vacates Protective Injunction Due to Insufficient Proof of Violence, Threats, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Dec. 19, 2013