Injunctions of protection in Florida are serious matters. They can be invaluable to the person for whom they provide vital protection. They can also have a substantial impact on the person who is restrained by their terms. Depending on the type of injunction entered by the court, you may be able to challenge the entry of that order through the appeals process, even if the injunction has already expired on its own. Initiating a challenge may be extremely important because, depending on the type, an injunction of protection may have a substantial impact on your life, including finding housing, obtaining employment, and owning firearms. To mount a strong challenge, be sure to retain the services of an experienced Florida domestic violence attorney.
A recent case from Palm Beach County offers an example of how this process can work and when it is not available. The underlying case was a dispute between Joseph and Barbara. Joseph accused Barbara of stalking him and sought a protective injunction. After a “brief but thorough” hearing, the trial judge granted the man the injunction he sought. Many of these types of injunctions have expiration dates, after which the injunction ceases to be effective. The expiration date of this injunction was December 29, 2017.
Barbara appealed, but, before her appeal case could be heard, December 29, 2017 came and went. The appeals court, as a result, asked Barbara to make an argument as to why the appeal should not be dismissed as moot. (Mootness refers to a circumstance when the matter at issue has ended or been resolved, meaning that there is no “live dispute” still pending.) Barbara argued that a successful appeal and successful challenge to what she asserted were the inappropriate actions of the trial court would allow the public record to reflect that she did nothing to violate Florida law.
Generally, once a judicial order like an injunction expires on its own, a challenge to the case underlying it is moot. Florida law only allows you to avoid dismissal for mootness for one of three reasons. One is a “question of great public importance,” which often involves things like constitutional arguments. The second is when “issues are likely to recur.” The third is when “collateral legal consequences affecting the rights” of the person pursuing the appeal “flow from” the injunction. An example of this would be an injunction that restricts rights like gun ownership.
None of these three things was present in Barbara’s case. There were no “great public importance” issues and no likelihood of recurrence, and the expired injunction did not affect Barbara’s rights going forward. The court, at the end of its opinion, made a point of contrasting the stalking injunction issued against Barbara and a injunction for protection against domestic violence. Domestic violence injunctions carry with them substantial impacts on the rights of the person restrained by the injunction. One key area of restriction is gun ownership.
Since domestic violence injunctions affect those legal rights, an appeal of a domestic violence injunction, even an expired one, meets the third item on this list and will always qualify for this exception to the mootness rule. Domestic violence injunctions can affect your life in a variety of ways. In addition to the gun ownership issue, they may also impair you when it comes to getting or keeping a job, and also when it comes to seeking housing. This is why it is extremely important to take domestic violence injunctions seriously and seek out experienced counsel to represent you, even if the injunction has expired.
Whether you are seeking an injunction of protection or opposing it, these cases are serious matters that require serious legal representation. The skilled South Florida domestic violence attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. are here to provide you with the informative advice and able representation you need. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.
More blog posts:
Facing a Domestic Violence Case Far from Your Florida Home? Don’t Ignore It; Take Strong Action to Protect Yourself, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, March 6, 2018
Florida Man Successfully Defeats Neighbor’s Stalking Injunction Action That Arose from a 4th of July Dispute, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Aug. 29, 2017