Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

Sometimes, you may see a family law-themed courtroom show on TV (such as Divorce Court or others,) where the spouses spend the entire episode angrily arguing with each other and complaining about one another, leaving the judge spending more time being a referee between the bickering spouses than being a judge of the facts and the law. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen only on TV.

Highly contentious family law cases, whether between two parents, two ex-spouses or two ex-partners are a reality of family law litigation. An extremely emotional and contentious case is one circumstance where it definitely pays to have a skilled South Florida family law attorney on your side. Your attorney can help guide you, calm you and protect your rights.

Take, as an example, a recent case from the Tampa area. R.L. and L.D. were former dating partners and she was in court seeking an injunction against dating violence. During the relationship, the man, L.D., had allegedly yanked R.L.’s arm and flung her across a room. A few months later, he allegedly chased her car on foot while cursing at her. According to R.L., L.D. had a long history of violence against women.

There are injunctions that protect against spousal violence and there are injunctions that protect against dating violence. However, you may wonder, “What if my attacker/stalker is someone with whom I had a relationship but, we were never married and we never really ‘dated,’ so to speak? Am I out of luck when it comes to getting this kind of protection?” The answer, fortunately, is “no.” These injunctions can apply to a variety of people and relationships, so if you’re being threatened, never assume that you can’t get protection; always talk to an experienced South Florida family law attorney first.

A case originating from the Tallahassee area gives a good illustration of how many different relationships can be the subject of an injunction against dating violence. T.S. and L.T. were a couple who met via the Internet site Craigslist. Based upon the description contained in the First District Court of Appeal’s opinion, this pair appeared to have what many might call a “friends with benefits” relationship. According to the man, the pair never actually went out anywhere together. Instead, over the four-year span of their on-again-off-again relationship, they got together mostly for sex. If one person began dating someone else, they’d cease their relationship, and then resume their couplings once that outside dating situation ended.

When the woman finally broke up for the last time, the man allegedly contacted her on social media, called her, texted her and “left unpleasant voice messages.” The man also once showed up at the woman’s home without warning and refused to leave until she told him she would call the police if he didn’t go.

Occasionally, this blog discusses the benefits of pursuing your case with an experienced attorney as opposed to “going it alone.” When someone opts to go it alone, they are almost always harming their case. Sometimes, those mistakes cost the litigant money. Other times, though, the stakes are much, much higher, such as in the case of domestic violence injunctions. If find yourself in the position of needing to pursue a protective injunction, or to defend against one, the stakes are about as high as they can be. You may be fearful that you cannot afford to hire an attorney. However, in reality, you cannot afford to go through the process without one. Your helpful South Florida family law attorney may be able to provide you with more solutions or options than you thought available, potentially making the cost more manageable, or even potentially nothing at all.

A recent case is a very clear cautionary tale. T.L., the plaintiff in the case, was the mother of a pre-teen daughter. T.L. and her daughter lived in Miami but, when the girl was 9, she spent a period of time in Palm Beach County with a paternal aunt and uncle due to Hurricane Irma. During that stay, the uncle alleged committed a sexual assault on the girl.

Based on that alleged incident, the mother went to court seeking an injunction for protection against sexual violence. The mother handled the case on her own. At the hearing, the girl did not testify; the mother was the only witness. A portion of the mother’s testimony focused on things that the daughter had told her about the incident.

Sometimes, people do bad things. When they do, they should face the legal consequences that come with the decisions made. However, sometimes that bad thing was an aberration or the wrongdoer made subsequent changes and improvements in his life. When circumstances change in your life, just as you deserved to face punishment for your wrong act, you should also be entitled to the benefits that the law allows as a result of those changes. This is true for a variety of people, including those who have had permanent domestic violence injunctions entered against them.

A permanent domestic violence injunction can have many impacts. For one, it generally means you’re forbidden from owning or possessing a gun. It also can have a variety of restrictions that can directly or indirectly limit your employment options. With that in mind, if you have an existing permanent injunction but the circumstances underlying that injunction no longer exist, getting that injunction dissolved may still be challenging. Be sure to talk to an experienced South Florida family law attorney about your options so that you can take the next step in moving forward with your life.

K.T.’s case was an example of someone in that situation. K.T. was a man going through a problematic marital breakup in the spring of 2011. That June, his wife sought a domestic violence injunction, alleging that the husband “pulled out a gun, trapped her in the garage, and threatened to shoot her in front of their nine-month-old daughter.” The husband was also charged criminally for the incident.

If someone in your life decides to go to court and seek a domestic violence injunction against you, you have many options. Depending on the circumstances, you might think that the easiest and best option is just to ignore it. That is, in the vast majority of circumstances, the worst plan of action you can have. Simply ignoring the case, refusing to litigate, and allowing the injunction to be entered can have massive detrimental effects on your life.Having a current domestic violence injunction against you can cause many problems. It generally will prevent you from possessing any firearms and possessing any ammunition. You can’t get a concealed weapon license if you have a current domestic violence injunction against you. The injunction may also negatively affect where you live, may cause you to be excluded from consideration for certain jobs (or even fired from the job you currently have), and may negatively affect your timesharing with your children. That’s why it’s almost never a good idea to turn your back on these cases. Instead, retain the services of a skilled South Florida domestic violence attorney and contest your case.

A recent case from near Clearwater serves as an example of how the process works and how a successful defense works. K.D., the wife, filed a request in circuit court asking for an injunction for protection against domestic violence against her husband, J.D. While the wife initially won and received the injunction from the trial court judge, the husband was ultimately successful on appeal. He achieved ultimate success because Florida has several things that a person seeking a domestic violence injunction must show, and the case K.D. made did not meet all of those requirements imposed by Florida law.

The wife alleged that the husband drank to excess and was prone to temper outbursts. She asserted two occasions on which he grabbed her so hard he bruised her arms. One of those was in 1998, and the other was in 2011.

Injunctions of protection in Florida are serious matters. They can be invaluable to the person for whom they provide vital protection. They can also have a substantial impact on the person who is restrained by their terms. Depending on the type of injunction entered by the court, you may be able to challenge the entry of that order through the appeals process, even if the injunction has already expired on its own. Initiating a challenge may be extremely important because, depending on the type, an injunction of protection may have a substantial impact on your life, including finding housing, obtaining employment, and owning firearms. To mount a strong challenge, be sure to retain the services of an experienced Florida domestic violence attorney.

A recent case from Palm Beach County offers an example of how this process can work and when it is not available. The underlying case was a dispute between Joseph and Barbara. Joseph accused Barbara of stalking him and sought a protective injunction. After a “brief but thorough” hearing, the trial judge granted the man the injunction he sought. Many of these types of injunctions have expiration dates, after which the injunction ceases to be effective. The expiration date of this injunction was December 29, 2017.

Barbara appealed, but, before her appeal case could be heard, December 29, 2017 came and went. The appeals court, as a result, asked Barbara to make an argument as to why the appeal should not be dismissed as moot. (Mootness refers to a circumstance when the matter at issue has ended or been resolved, meaning that there is no “live dispute” still pending.) Barbara argued that a successful appeal and successful challenge to what she asserted were the inappropriate actions of the trial court would allow the public record to reflect that she did nothing to violate Florida law.

If you find yourself in the stressful and likely frightening situation of facing a domestic violence case in some faraway state where you’ve not lived for many years (or never lived at all), you have several options. One option is to ignore the case. This is almost always a terrible choice. While it is true that certain types of judgments from one state cannot reach you in another state, a domestic violence order is possibly much more problematic. Having a domestic violence injunction issued against you, even if it is issued by a court in a state with which you have no contact, can affect your ability to own or possess firearms, your ability to hold certain types of jobs, and potentially your ability to have custody or timesharing with your children, even including your children from other marriages and relationships. Simply ignoring the case will likely do nothing but harm to you. A better option is to retain an experienced Florida domestic violence attorney and litigate your case.

Rabih was a man facing such a case. He, Issrra (his wife), and their three children lived in Ohio until the couple separated, and Issrra and the children moved to Pinellas County. A week and a half after arriving in Florida, the mother filed a request with the court in Pinellas County to enter a domestic violence injunction against the father. Rabih, at that point, faced a problem. He lived in northern Ohio and had lived there for well more than a decade, but he had now been served with court papers regarding a potential domestic violence injunction against him in Florida.

Rabih wisely chose not to ignore his case. He hired Florida counsel, and he won his jurisdiction argument, which meant that Issrra’s case was dismissed. The law gives you the opportunity to argue that a state’s courts do not have personal jurisdiction over you without that appearance and action creating a forfeiture of your jurisdiction argument. In other words, simply hiring a Florida lawyer to go to court and argue that the Florida courts lack personal jurisdiction over you does not amount to your voluntarily submitting to the jurisdiction of Florida.

If you decide to go to court to seek (or to oppose) an injunction for protection from stalking violence, you should take the matter extremely seriously, and you should retain a skilled South Florida domestic violence attorney to represent you. The law is fairly clear regarding what is needed in order for the courts to enter an injunction, including the number of acts required and who may be a victim of the alleged harassment.

A recent case involving a pair of neighbors offers an example of the process and the hurdles involved. On the 4th of July in 2016, Deniz was doing what lots of people do on Independence Day. She and her family were lighting fireworks in the street. Deniz’s neighbor was apparently startled and displeased by Deniz’s family’s patriotic festivities. The neighbor grabbed his unloaded gun, exited his home, made verbal threats toward Deniz’s family, and, before leaving, shoved Deniz’s boyfriend. This entire series of events took place within 20 minutes’ time.

Deniz went to court and asked for an injunction for protection against stalking violence against her neighbor. This type of injunction involves a requirement that the person seeking the injunction prove that at least two instances of stalking took place. The trial judge entered the injunction. The two qualifying occurrences of stalking behavior were the neighbor’s issuance of threats while brandishing the gun and the neighbor’s shoving the boyfriend.

There is a natural tendency to take certain legal proceedings more seriously than others. Some types of major criminal matters or high-dollar civil cases likely would motivate a person to retain counsel to defend them, whereas in other matters, like perhaps cases involving injunctions against violence or stalking, people make the judgment that they can go it alone. This tendency is often misguided. Any matter, including a stalking injunction case, can have very serious consequences for you if the injunction is issued. You should take all of the necessary steps to make certain that, when you get to court, you have everything you need for your defense.

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A South Florida wife and her husband’s alleged lover had a contentious and sometimes violent relationship with each other. That hostile relationship led each woman to seek and obtain injunctions against repeat violence against the other. The wife, however, got the injunction against her thrown out on appeal. The problem with that injunction was one of proof and statutory requirements. Specifically, the single incident of the wife battering the other woman and the single incident of following the other woman weren’t enough, under the statute’s requirements, to warrant an injunction. While this was a case related to an injunction against repeat violence, the lesson from this case (namely, the importance of challenging injunctions when the evidence doesn’t meet the statutory requirements) applies equally well to injunctions against domestic violence.

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