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What You Need To Know About Protective Orders In Florida

Protective orders are a type of injunction issued by a court that prohibits a person from contacting another person, usually due to some suspicion or history of violence. Florida has several different kinds of protective orders that may be used by a judge in different situations.

Basics

Florida recognizes four different kinds of situations in which a court may issue a protective order:

  • Domestic violence,
  • repeat violence,
  • dating violence, and
  • sexual violence.

A person (the petitioner) may seek a protective order on another (the respondent) whether there is an ongoing criminal prosecution or not. People who are not family members may seek a protective order from another, and leaving the residence of the one against whom the order is sought cannot be used as a reason for denying one.

In addition, court clerks are bound by the law to assist anyone seeking a protective order against another, and those clerks are also expected to protect the privacy of the individual seeking a protective order as well.

Form

The Florida statute on protective orders is quite specific as to how the sworn petition must look. Among other things, the sworn petition must include the respondent’s:

  • race,
  • sex,
  • date of birth,
  • height and weight,
  • eye and hair color, and
  • any distinguishing marks.

The sworn petition must also state any other attempts at obtaining a protection order on the respondent, and it must also detail any other criminal or civil proceedings between the two parties as well.

Domestic Violence

A protective order may be issued by a court against a respondent if he or she commits

  • assault,
  • aggravated assault,
  • sexual assault,
  • battery,
  • aggravated battery,
  • sexual battery,
  • stalking or aggravated stalking,
  • kidnapping,
  • false imprisonment, or
  • any other crime that lead to physical injury or death

against another family member. Family members include both current and former spouses, people related by blood or marriage, someone with whom the victim lives or used to live, and the other parent of a child.

Other Violence

Florida law allows a court to issue a protective order in three other instances, namely

  • repeat violence,
  • dating violence, and
  • sexual violence.

In the case of repeat violence, the victim must refer to at least two other violent acts by a family member, with at least one having happened within the past six months.

A protective order for dating violence may be issued if one has a continued and significant relationship with the other. The parties must have dated within the last six months, the relationship must have been intimate, and the relationship must have been over a continuous time period.

To obtain a protective order due to sexual violence, the respondent must have committed sexual battery, lewd or lascivious conduct on or near a child younger than 16, luring or enticing a child, compelling a sexual performance from a child, or any other forcible felony involving a sexual act, whether completed or merely attempted. Protective orders due to sexual violence may be granted regardless of whether the act was prosecuted as a crime or not.

What It Does

A protective order in Florida can do many things. A judge may use it to keep a person from occupying a living area, prohibit contact with another person, give another temporary custody of a child, order counseling, or prevent any further acts of domestic violence.

A temporary protective order may only last 15 days, while a general protective order can last up to one year. Violating a protective order is a first degree misdemeanor and may be grounds for a finding of civil contempt.

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