There is a natural tendency to take certain legal proceedings more seriously than others. Some types of major criminal matters or high-dollar civil cases likely would motivate a person to retain counsel to defend them, whereas in other matters, like perhaps cases involving injunctions against violence or stalking, people make the judgment that they can go it alone. This tendency is often misguided. Any matter, including a stalking injunction case, can have very serious consequences for you if the injunction is issued. You should take all of the necessary steps to make certain that, when you get to court, you have everything you need for your defense.
For example, take one recent case from Palm Beach County in which a man had an injunction against repeated stalking entered against him, even though he never actually agreed that he stalked the woman in the first place. James and Jerilyn were two people who lived near each other and who eventually became involved in a romantic relationship. After she ended the relationship, he allegedly made multiple and repeated attempts to contact her, by phone and by email, even though she asked him to stop.
The court decided this proof wasn’t enough for a temporary injunction against the man, and it scheduled the case for a full and final hearing. At that hearing, she had an attorney. He did not. The woman’s attorney explained the parameters of the proposed injunction in terms of the distance the man would have to stay away from the woman at all times, as well as a provision stating that “inadvertent or casual contact” would not be a violation. After the two sides agreed on the wording of this provision, the judge signed the injunction.
After the case was over, though, the man discovered what he viewed as a problem. The man allegedly agreed to the injunction’s prohibitions because he intended to cease contacting the woman, but he never admitted or agreed that he actually had stalked her. However, in the “findings” section of the injunction, the document stated that, based upon the facts of the case, the ex-girlfriend was a victim of stalking.
This eventually led the man to appeal and win. The Florida statute that governs stalking injunctions, Section 784.0485, states that, in order for an alleged victim “to be entitled to an injunction for stalking, the petitioner must allege and prove two separate instances of stalking.” In this case, there was no such proof. The court had no testimony that stalking occurred. The court had no admission that stalking took place. There was no stipulation to evidence of stalking. There were only two sides who agreed to an injunction. Without this evidence, the issuance of the injunction was not proper.
A major issue that allowed the case to get this far was the ex-boyfriend’s lack of legal counsel and lack of understanding of the process. He thought he could agree to the injunction simply because he agreed to cease contacting the woman. He was unaware that any injunction unavoidably would involve language stating that the court found that he had stalked the woman.
The appeals court painted a clear picture of the gravity of these types of cases because “injunctions for protection can have serious consequences.” They trigger a mandatory surrender of all firearms. They may affect your employment or your freedom to travel. They are not matters to take lightly, and they are not a time to walk into court unprepared, even if you have agreed never to contact the other person again. With skilled counsel in the trial court, this man might not have needed to have taken his case all the way to the court of appeal.
The knowledgeable and experienced South Florida domestic violence attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A., have been assisting clients with family law matters, including injunctions against stalking, for many years and are here to help you with your case and meet your legal needs. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.
More blog posts:
What it Takes to Obtain an Injunction Against Repeat Violence Under Florida Law, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, June 7, 2017
Court’s Refusal to Hear Florida Man’s Defense Evidence in Stalking Case Triggers Reversal of Injunction, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Sept. 28, 2016