Understanding How to Protect Yourself Against Harassment

Florida law provides people with various legal avenues to seek protection if they are victims of domestic harassment. Part of the key to obtaining an order of protection, though, is understanding the limitations of the law and what types of protective orders do, or do not, apply to you. One man’s attempt to seek protection from a jealous ex-girlfriend ultimately failed because, regardless of the woman’s conduct, the type of protective order the man sought did not apply to his situation.

One man ended his on-and-off relationship with his girlfriend in 2011 when he moved from Kentucky to Key West. The man began dating another woman and, by August 2012, the ex-girlfriend allegedly began harassing him. The ex-girlfriend sent packages of animal waste to his place of employment, faxed a letter to the girlfriend of the man’s brother threatening violence against the man and his new girlfriend and engaged in other threatening and hostile behaviors.

The man, representing himself in court, sought “protection against dating violence” against the ex-girlfriend, and the trial court entered an injunction. The 3rd District Court of Appeal reversed the ruling, however. The reason the injunction failed had nothing to do with the ex-girlfriend’s conduct. Regardless of the ex-girlfriend’s behavior, the man and the ex-girlfriend were not in a dating relationship and, as a result, the man could not seek protection from dating violence as defined by Section 784.046 of the Florida Statutes. That law limited the qualification for orders of protection against dating violence to situations where the victim either (1) was currently in a dating relationship with the harasser, or (2) the victim and the harasser had been in a dating relationship within the previous six months.

Even construing the facts favorably for the man, the couple ceased being in a relationship by the end of 2011. Because the man did not file for an order of protection under March 2013, 15 months after the relationship ended, he could not qualify for an order of protection against dating violence.

The court did, however, point the man in a direction that might ultimately prove more fruitful, giving him permission to pursue a stalking injunction against the ex-girlfriend, as defined in Section 784.0485 of the Florida Statutes. Bases for a stalking injunction include threatening to harm the victim “or family members or individuals closely associated,” or using or threatening to use weapons “such as guns or knives” against the victim. Given the man’s allegations that the ex-girlfriend threatened violence against his sister, and threatened gun-related violence against him and his girlfriend, the man’s case, if properly substantiated, would seem to raise a significant issue regarding stalking.

Unfortunately for the man, he must go through the legal process twice to obtain his court-ordered protection, because he did not use the proper avenue for protection the first time. Sometimes, the value of a knowledgeable attorney is not just a victory or a defeat; it is also saving time and agony by dissuading a client from pursuing a court filing that is doomed to fail. For sensitive, skillful and determined representation in your domestic violence case, consult the South Florida family law attorneys of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. They can help you assess your case and also help you avoid wasting time, money and effort on legal dead-ends.

Contact us online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Vacates Protective Injunction Due to Insufficient Proof of Violence, Threats, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Dec. 19, 2013
Power 96 DJ Laz’s Gun Involved In Broward Domestic Violence Murder/Suicide, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Sept. 29, 2011