Don’t Ignore the Lasting Effects of a Florida Domestic Violence Injunction, Even if it Has Expired

Cases in which one person seeks an injunction for protection from domestic violence are very serious matters for the alleged victim. The consequences of a wrongfully entered injunction can also be substantial for the person standing accused. Since the legal impact of a domestic violence injunction is so significant, Florida law allows an accused person to contest the injunction through the court system, even if the injunction’s expiration date has passed. Based on this rule, a Central Florida man was given a new opportunity by the 5th District Court of Appeal to pursue getting his injunction thrown out, even though it had expired.

The case, which began in Orange County, involved D.J (husband). and S.J. (wife). The wife went to court seeking an injunction for protection from domestic violence against David. When an alleged victim of domestic violence goes to court seeking an injunction for protection, the court always considers the entry of two types of injunctions:  temporary and final. As soon as the alleged victim files a petition for an injunction, the trial judge reviews that petition and decides whether or not a temporary injunction is warranted, and, if an immediate and present threat of violence exists, the temporary injunction is entered. These injunctions last, at most, 15 days. Final injunctions are ones issued by the judge after the conclusion of a full hearing. Some final injunctions have expiration dates set by the court, while others are indefinite in their duration.

In this case, the trial court issued a final injunction that contained an expiration date. David filed a motion with the trial court, asking it to reverse its decision entering the injunction. The trial court, without giving the man a hearing, rejected the request. The injunction’s expiration date had already passed, so the court ruled that the man’s request was moot, meaning that any additional court proceedings on the matter would have no real effect.

The man appealed that denial, and the appeals court agreed with him. The appeals court pointed out that Florida law recognizes at least three specific situations in which the normal legal rules regarding mootness do not apply. One of these circumstances regards cases in which there are “collateral legal consequences that affect the rights of a party.” Having an injunction for protection against domestic violence entered against you, even one that has expired, can have serious consequences. It may affect you financially and personally. The injunction could damage your position in child custody and child support cases, could cost you a job for which you’ve applied (or even your current job), or bar you from possessing a gun.

That’s why the courts have consistently recognized that the impacts of these injunctions are serious enough that they qualify as “collateral legal consequences,” and court actions challenging them are not moot even if the specific injunction has expired. In one 2002 case, the 2d DCA concluded that a case involving an expired injunction for protection was not moot because the injunction prevented the accused from possessing a gun and therefore negatively affected her career in law enforcement.

Domestic violence injunction cases are always serious matters with serious consequences if the court enters the injunction. Whether you’re seeking the entry of a domestic violence injunction, or defending against one, you need to have capable legal counsel on your side. The knowledgeable South Florida domestic violence attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. have many years of dealing with domestic violence injunction cases. Contact our thoughtful, hardworking attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

South Florida Man Gets New Hearing in Domestic Violence Case After Trial Court Admits Improper Evidence, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Oct. 14, 2015

Appeals Court Decision Clarifies When Victims Can Seek Protective Injunctions, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Oct. 20, 2014