A Broward County judge recently handed down a rather unusual bond court ruling to a Plantation man charged with domestic violence. At his initial appearance hearing, the 47-year-old defendant was ordered to buy his wife flowers and a birthday card, take her to dinner at Red Lobster, take her bowling, and attend marriage counseling.
The man was reportedly taken into custody after an argument with his wife escalated. The argument purportedly began because he failed to wish his spouse a happy birthday. According to the arrest affidavit, he pushed his wife onto a sofa, placed his hand on her neck, and threatened to punch her. Broward County Judge John “Jay” Hurley asked his wife if she was injured or afraid of her husband. After his wife responded she was not, the judge issued his order: the man was required to take his spouse on a date for her birthday.
According to Judge Hurley, he made the unique ruling because the incident was rather minor and the defendant had no prior arrest record. The judge also made clear he would not treat a more serious domestic violence case similarly. In this man’s case, his spouse did not appear to be in any danger despite the couple’s fight. Judge Hurley stated in this particular instance, his ruling was a better resolution than the alternatives of setting a bond or keeping the man in custody. Judge Hurley also ordered the couple to begin attending marriage counseling within one week.
In Florida, domestic violence can include assault, battery, stalking, aggravated assault, battery or stalking, sexual assault or battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and other criminal offenses. State law allows a victim of domestic violence to seek a restraining order against her or his alleged abuser. In order to obtain a protection order against an abuser, a victim must petition a court and provide specific facts regarding why a restraining order is merited. After that, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether a protection order is warranted.
A restraining order may also be granted where a petitioner has a reasonable fear that domestic violence will occur. If the court believes the petitioner is in immediate danger, based on the allegations in the petition, it may issue a temporary restraining order until a hearing can be held. Temporary orders generally last for 15 days, but are subject to an extension at the discretion of the court.
If a permanent protection order is granted, it will not expire. A petitioner must ask the court to modify or end a permanent restraining order. The petitioner must also demonstrate changed circumstances that warrant the modification or termination of the order. A temporary or permanent protection order requires an alleged abuser to stay away from the petitioner, the petitioner’s residence, place of employment, and other designated locations. It may also award a petitioner temporary custody of any minor children and require the abuser to give up their firearms and ammunition.