Articles Posted in In the news (Domestic Violence)

Most “pet parents” understand that their dog, cat or other animal isn’t mere “property” but, rather, is a beloved member of the family. A person’s bond with their pet may be on a par with the bond they feel for their closest human loved ones. That love does, however, have a potential drawback for one group of people, which is people in abusive relationships. A victim of abuse may forego or delay leaving an abusive situation out of fear for the well-being, or the very life, of their beloved “fur babies.” A new law in Florida, however, has provided these people and their pets an added degree of protection through the system of injunctions for protection against domestic violence. If you are encountering abuse, don’t delay in reaching out to a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney for options to protect your legal interests and your personal safety.

In late June, Governor DeSantis signed into law a bill that amends the Florida statute governing domestic violence injunctions. The new law expands the legal authority granted to judges in domestic violence injunction cases. Specifically, the bill added a new section to the statute, which says that a person who petitions successfully for a domestic violence injunction may potentially receive, in addition to temporary exclusive use of the couple’s home and 100% timesharing of the couple’s children, the “temporary exclusive care, possession, or control of an animal that is owned, possessed, harbored, kept, or held by the petitioner, the respondent, or a minor child residing in the residence or household of the petitioner or respondent.”

The court may also order the alleged abuser to have no contact with the animal. The law carves out exclusions for animals that are owned “primarily for a bona fide agricultural purpose” and for a service animal if the alleged abuser is the service animal’s handler. In other words, even if you provide the necessary proof to get a domestic violence injunction, you cannot, for example, take your sight-impaired abuser’s service dog or remove livestock from your abuser’s farm.

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Though most of Florida has begun reopening and the shelter-in-place period passed, things are not as they were before. The impacts of the pandemic have been wide-ranging, but have been keenly felt by victims of domestic abuse. For many, the shelter-in-place period may have added additional stress and increased the frequency and/or severity of the abuse while, at the same time, taken away opportunities (like school or work) to reach out for help. Despite these extraordinary conditions, it is essential to recognize that the courts and law offices are still open and that, if you need help, help is available to you. A skilled South Florida family law attorney can be your vital lifeline to the courts and protective orders, along with other resources to enhance your safety.

Sources across the state and the country have been trying to get the word out: just because the number of domestic violence calls during the shelter-in-place period didn’t go up (or in some places went down,) that isn’t necessarily a cause for celebration. Research shows that introducing the conditions we’ve just experienced tends to increase incidents of domestic violence. You have an added element of financial insecurity for many families. You have many primary earners who have lost their jobs. You also have families confined at home together for extended periods, including wage-earners who are used to working outside the home and for whom remaining at home for weeks on end is completely outside their established routines. All of this is a recipe for increased domestic violence.

ABC News reported that authorities in California were greatly concerned by the low number of domestic violence calls during the “lockdown” period, fearing that the low number meant that a vast number of victims were suffering violence but unable to seek help. Closer to home, the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office in Tampa launched the “We Are Open” campaign to encourage victims to reach out. Much like the California authorities, authorities in Tampa feared that victims were still suffering violence, probably at increased rates, but were fearful to ask for help, WMNF reported. Victims may have encountered many problems, including an inability to secure a private place to make contact, a fear of the effects of the virus if they left their home, or a fear (often falsely instilled by their abusers) that they would be arrested by the police if they left their homes during the shelter-in-place period.

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A Florida Congressman noted for his provocative rhetoric, particularly regarding his political opponents and women’s issues, scored a legal victory when his estranged wife chose to file a voluntary dismissal of her domestic violence injunction petition. Police officials previously announced that they would not pursue criminal charges against the Congressman for the incident, WESH-TV reported.

The dismissal likely brings to an end any potential legal troubles for Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando with regard to a recent dispute between the Congressman and his estranged wife. The Congressman and his wife of 24 years, Lolita Carson-Grayson, are separated and pursuing a divorce. The discord erupted when the Congressman returned home to pick up his mail, his medications and to visit the couple’s children. During the visit, the couple became embroiled in a verbal altercation. In her initial 911 call, the Congressman’s wife told a dispatcher that Grayson had not struck her but was threatening her.

The next day, she traveled to the emergency room at an Orlando-area hospital, claiming that Grayson pushed her against a door, bruising her. Grayson later countered his wife’s assertions in a statement to reporters. According to a Miami Herald report, the Congressman claimed that the encounter “simply isn’t the way she described it. She hit me and I retreated. That’s what happened.”
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A 35-year-old St. Augustine woman in the midst of heated divorce proceedings was recently arrested after she allegedly spray painted graffiti on the Duval County Courthouse in downtown Jacksonville. According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the woman was caught painting letters, broken hearts, and angry messages to a family court judge on a walkway and several pillars attached to the newly constructed building. She is reportedly going through a messy divorce and custody battle. According to court records, her former husband has accused the woman of domestic abuse and asked for a restraining order against her.

The woman was charged with criminal mischief in excess of $1,000 and interrupting a business or utilities in connection with the courthouse vandalism. The woman also allegedly painted graffiti at the corporate headquarters of a family business that is owned at least in part by her former husband. She reportedly spray painted messages to her former spouse and her child in addition to painting other graffiti on the business.

In the State of Florida, domestic violence includes aggravated battery, assault, or stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, sexual assault or battery, and a variety of other criminal offenses. A victim of domestic abuse may seek a protection order against an alleged abuser. To obtain a restraining order against an abuser, a victim must provide the court with specific facts regarding why a restraining order is necessary. After a domestic violence victim requests a restraining order, a hearing is held to determine whether the alleged victim’s request should be granted.

In some cases, a protection order may be granted where there is a reasonable fear that domestic violence will occur. A temporary restraining order may be issued until a hearing can be held if the court believes a petitioner is in immediate danger. Temporary protection orders generally last for 15 days, but may be extended at the discretion of the court. A temporary or other restraining order requires an alleged abuser to stay away from his or her victim, the victim’s home, workplace, and other specified locations. A protection order may also award temporary custody of a couple’s minor children to an alleged domestic violence victim. If you were the victim of domestic violence, you should contact a skilled family law lawyer to discuss your rights in more detail.
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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.
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On Sunday, September 25, 2011, ten days after being arraigned on two counts of misdemeanor battery/domestic violence against his wife and his wife’s Mother, Marcus Nathaniel Trotman shot his wife, her mother and himself in what police are calling a murder-suicide.

Prior to the incident, Trotman had been working as an audio engineer with popular South Florida Power 96 radio personality Lazaro Mendez (A.K.A. “D.J. Laz”). Shockingly, Sunrise police confirmed that the gun recovered from the scene-a Walther PPK .380 caliber handgun-was the same make and model as one reported missing by Mendez the evening of the shooting. However, police have yet to confirm whether the gun used by Trotman actually belonged to Mendez.

Mendez’ publicist issued a statement to the media saying he was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the shooting. According to police reports, Trotman and Mendez were friends. In fact, Trotman had been living with Mendez since Sunrise police arrested Trotman for battery on August 21, 2011 and a judge ordered him to stay away from his Wife and her Mother.