Court Explains the “Reasonable Person” Standard in Florida Domestic Violence Cases

The Florida courts regard allegations of domestic violence seriously and will impose any legal measures necessary to keep victims of domestic violence safe. Merely because a person accuses someone of engaging in acts of domestic violence does not mean that the courts will issue injunctions for protection against their alleged attacker, however. Instead, as illustrated in a recent ruling issued by a Florida court, the acts in question must, at a minimum, inspire an objectively reasonable fear of imminent harm. If you are the victim of domestic violence or have been accused of domestic violence by a former romantic partner, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney about your rights.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and wife lived in Missouri; they divorced in October 2021, and the wife moved to Florida, where she filed for an injunction for protection against domestic violence against the husband. In her petition, she claimed that he had committed or threatened to commit domestic violence against her.

It is reported that the wife asserted that her daughter overheard the husband saying he had purchased a gun silencer in October 2020, and she feared that he would kill her. The wife also testified that in March 2021, the husband told her that he did not need a silencer to kill her. The wife admitted, however,  that she had never seen the husband in Florida and that he had never attempted to contact her directly. The trial court granted the injunction, and the husband appealed.

The “Reasonable Person” Standard in Florida Domestic Violence Cases

On appeal, the husband argued that the evidence did not support the imposition of the injunction. The court agreed and reversed the trial court ruling. Specifically, the court found that the evidence of threats made before January 2021 were too remote in time to support the injunction and that the only event that could support it was the March 2021 incident.

The court found, however, that the March 2021 incident alone, did not support the trial court’s finding that the former wife harbored an objectively reasonable fear that she was at imminent risk of becoming a victim of domestic violence. The court explained that it will only issue an injunction for protection against domestic violence if the petitioner demonstrates that they are the victim of domestic violence or have reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. Further, the petitioner’s fear of imminent danger must be objectively reasonable.

There is no explicit rule as to what is considered too temporally remote to support a domestic violence injunction. The courts generally rule, however, that incidents that happened one year before the petition are inadequate to support the issuance of an injunction if there are no other allegations of current violence or imminent danger. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Capable Miami Attorney

Domestic violence, unfortunately, impacts many relationships in Florida, and the courts will typically take action needed to mitigate the risk of harm if the evidence suggests it is warranted. If you have questions about your rights with regard to domestic violence allegations, you should speak to an attorney. The capable Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. understand the sensitive nature of domestic violence claims, and if you hire us, we will help you seek a swift resolution. We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly represent people in domestic violence actions in Miami. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.