Florida Appeals Court Throwns Out Dating Violence Injunction Due to Lack of ‘Imminent Threat’ of Additional Violence

If your ex-boyfriend or -girlfriend punched you, giving you a black eye in the process, that might make you concerned for your well-being. If, in addition, your home had been vandalized the month before, this might serve, in conjunction with the physical violence, to raise your concern even higher. However, as a recent 5th District Court of Appeal ruling demonstrates, the law regarding injunctions against dating violence requires very specific levels of proof, and one act of violence coupled with an anonymous act of vandalism are not enough to trigger the issuance of an injunction.

The woman seeking the injunction, C.S., had been in a dating relationship with V.N. that was at its end in the spring of 2015. When it ended, V.N. sent C.S. two emails expressing regret over the relationship’s demise, but C.S. did not view them as threatening. In May of that year, someone vandalized her home’s air conditioner and pool, but she did not know who committed the act. Then, in June, V.N. arrived at C.S.’s home to pick up some of his personal things. A physical altercation ensued, with V.N. twisting C.S.’s arm and giving her a black eye.

Shortly after all this took place, C.S. went to court, seeking against V.N. an injunction against dating violence. The trial court granted the injunction. V.N. appealed, and the appeals court overturned the decision. The reason the injunction was improper was that the evidence C.S. had, while it might cause one to have some safety concerns, was not enough under the requirements of the statute. Florida Statutes Section 784.046 lays out three elements necessary for a dating violence injunction. One is a dating relationship during the previous six months. The second is at least one occurrence of dating violence. Finally, the law requires proof that the victim is “in imminent danger of another act of dating violence.”

In C.S.’s case, she had two of the three necessary pieces. She and V.N. had been together within the required previous six-month period. She also had an event of violence:  the confrontation at her home. V.N. had challenged this point, arguing that he acted in self-defense, but the court found C.S. to be more credible on this issue.

What she didn’t have was proof of imminent danger of future violence. She had no proof that V.N. perpetrated the vandalism on her home, and the emails she received from the man were not threatening. V.N. never threatened her with physical violence. In fact, true to what V.N. had promised in his emails, he never made any “further contact, attempted contact, communication, or interaction” with C.S. of any kind after the fight in her home in June 2015. With only proof of the one isolated incident, there was no evidence of an imminent threat of additional violence, so there were no grounds for the injunction.

Injunctions against dating violence are serious matters, whether you are the accused or the person seeking protection. The hardworking South Florida domestic violence attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. understand the seriousness of these matters and are here to put their years of experience and knowledge regarding these types of cases to work for you. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

Shortage of Proof Leads to Reversal of Florida Woman’s Order of Protection, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Feb. 18, 2016

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