This information was provided by the Supreme Court, Office of Court Improvement, adopted and edited by the 12th Judicial Circuit
You have the right to file a petition to ask the court to issue an injunction to protect you against violence. The injunction process is a civil court process and is not a part of a criminal court proceeding. An injunction is different than a criminal “no-contact” order. An injunction is a court order against another person who has been physically violent with you and/or has placed you in fear of physical violence. The purpose is to require him or her to stay away from your home, your car, your place of employment, and other places the court finds necessary. Also, injunctions can order the other person not to contact you by phone, in writing, by email, or in person. Injunctions can include other relief that the court feels is appropriate.
There are four kinds of civil injunctions: domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence, and repeat violence. There are different requirements for each type of injunction. The type of injunction that you can file depends on your relationship with the other person and what has happened. If you are under 18 years old, ask the court clerk about an adult filing on your behalf.
Do you now or have you in the past lived with the other person as if a “family”?
Do you and the other person have a child together?
“Family” includes people who you are related to by blood or marriage; spouses, ex-spouses, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles; parties intimately involved and living together but never married; adopted children; step-parents and stepchildren, and others.
If you answered yes to either of these domestic violence questions, then you can file a petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence.
A sexual violence injunction may be filed if the situation does not meet the criteria for a domestic violence injunction, and the other person committed one of the following acts: sexual battery defined by Chapter 794, lewd and lascivious act upon or in the presence of a child younger than 16, lured or enticed a child as described in chapter 787, required a child to sexually perform as in Chapter 827, or committed any forcible felony wherein a sexual act was committed or attempted.
If the other person did commit one of these listed acts, you must have reported the sexual violence to law enforcement and be cooperating with any criminal proceeding to file for this kind of injunction. You can also file a sexual violence injunction if the other person has been in prison for the sexual violence and the term of imprisonment is getting ready to expire within ninety days.
Have you and the other person dated each other in the last six months?
Did you have an expectation of affection or sexual involvement with the other person?
Did you interact with the other person on a frequent and continuous basis during the relationship?
If you answered YES to ALL of these questions about dating, and violence occurred between you and the other person, then you can file a petition for an injunction for protection against dating violence.
If your answers to the questions about the other kinds of injunctions for domestic, sexual, and dating violence petitions are “NO”, then you can file a petition for an injunction against repeat violence. This petition would be used for neighbors, coworkers, students, relatives who have never lived together, etc. For this type of injunction, there must have been two incidents of physical violence, threats of violence, or stalking, and one of these must have occurred in the last six months.
If you can afford an attorney or if legal aid is available, it is always best to get legal assistance. If you cannot get an attorney, you can contact a victim advocacy agency to help you fill out the forms. A list of domestic violence centers in your area is available in the clerks’ office or at www.myflfamilies.com. Or, you can file these papers on your own. Read the instructions carefully and complete all sections of the forms with all of information that you can provide.
For any injunction, in the section where you explain what has happened, you may want to include all examples of what the other person has done to you: scratching, punching, biting, kicking, throwing things at you, pulling hair, burning you, pushing, using a weapon, slapping, shoving, strangling, rape, marital rape, unwanted kissing or touching, unwanted rough or violent sexual activity, pinning you down, destroying property, keeping you from leaving or from calling law enforcement, threats to hurt you, harassment, following you, threats to or causing harm to a pet, causing you injury in any way, or threats to commit suicide.
It is important to include dates and locations of all violent incidents or threats of violence. List all of the places that the other person may be, so that law enforcement can serve him or her. Also, try to write neatly or type the petition so that the judge can read it.
Include all the information that you have about other court cases involving you and the other party. Also include relevant financial information, information about the children, and information about the respondent, including where he or she can be located to be served with a copy. You may also include pictures and any other documents you may have that would explain to the court why you need an injunction. After you complete the forms, submit them to the clerk’s office. You will sign under oath that all information you provided is true and correct.
The other person will get a copy of everything that you write in the petition and all of the court papers. You should contact a victim advocate and have a safety plan.
Three things can happen after you file the petition:
Witnesses - Witnesses must come to court to testify. Letters from witnesses are not allowed. You may subpoena witnesses, but there is a fee. Contact the clerk for information. Police officers and Child Protection investigators usually require a subpoena to attend hearings.
Evidence - Pictures, phone records, written or telephone messages, medical records, etc. Any of the things you have to prove to the court what you wrote in the petition.
Proof of Income - If you are asking for child support or alimony; you must bring a financial affidavit or proof of income; pay stubs, tax return, etc. If you have filed a joint tax return or have proof of the other party’s income, you should bring that with you also.
Car titles and/or deeds to home or shared property if you are asking to have temporary possession of a car and/or house.
Copies of any other court orders involving you and the other person (divorce, custody, child support, etc.)
All persons appearing before the court must dress in an appropriate manner. Shorts, hats, flip-flops, and tank tops are not suitable for the courtroom.
The purpose of the hearing is for the judge to decide whether or not to issue a final injunction. The judge decides the time period for the injunctions. If both parties appear and want to proceed, the judge can listen to both parties, witnesses, and review the evidence.
If a final injunction is entered, read it carefully. Ask the judge or court staff if you have any questions or concerns. If the other person violates the order, report it immediately. Only the court can change the injunction or court order. If a change is needed or you want a dismissal, contact the court. You cannot give the other party permission to violate the order.
If you are in immediate danger call 911.
You should also contact the Clerk of the Court to file an affidavit describing the violation. Victims should carry the protection order with them at all times.
An Injunction for Protection is a civil court order. However, a respondent who does not abide by all the conditions of the protection order may face criminal charges or contempt of court.
The Court has ordered that you:
DO NOT contact the other person in this case!!! Contact means: in person, by phone calls, emails, text messages, letters, sending gifts, talking in public places, and sending messages or having others talk to the other person for you. YOU MAY NOT HAVE CONTACT EVEN IF THE OTHER PERSON CONTACTS YOU FIRST!!!
DO NOT go any place prohibited in the Temporary Injunction (other person’s home, place of work, or other places listed in the order signed by the judge) or within 100 feet of the other person’s car. EVEN IF YOU ARE INVITED!!!
ONLY THE JUDGE CAN CHANGE THE ORDER. The other person cannot decide to change or dismiss the order alone. If the other person contacts you, it is not a crime, but if you have contact with the other person YOU CAN BE ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH A CRIME!!! (You may be sentenced to up to one year in jail.)
You will have a chance to talk to the judge at the hearing. Plan to attend your hearing. If you cannot go to court for a good reason, you can contact the court in writing and ask for another court date. Unless your request is granted, you must attend on the date indicated.
The court can enter a temporary order based on one person’s sworn petition alone, but it is only in effect for a short time. Both people have the chance to address the court before a final order can be entered.
The purpose of the hearing is for the judge to decide whether to issue a final injunction.
If you have a pending criminal case about the same or related incident, you have the right not to testify in the injunction hearing, because anything you say can be used against you in the criminal case.
At the hearing, you can consent (agree to the injunction,) or you can object (disagree with the injunction being entered against you). If you object, a full hearing will be held. Before you agree, read the potential consequences listed under the heading “WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES IF A FINAL INJUNCTINO FOR PROTECTION IS ENTERED AGAINST YOU?”
If you have a full hearing, the judge will listen to both parties, witnesses, and review the evidence. At your hearing, you will have a chance to talk to the judge about what the other person said you did or alleged in the petition.
If the final injunction is entered, it is not a “two-way” order. It restricts the behavior of the respondent (you) only.
If you feel you have been stalked, harassed, threatened, the victim of violence or are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of violence by the other person, you have the right to petition the court for an injunction against the other person in your case. You may file a petition in the clerk’s office to request an injunction.
Witnesses - Any witnesses must come to court to testify. Letters from witnesses are not allowed. You may subpoena witnesses, but there is a fee. You may contact the clerk for information. Police officers usually require a subpoena in advance to attend hearings.
Evidence - Pictures, phone records, messages, etc. that pertain to the incident described in the papers.
Proof of Income - If the other person is asking for support, you must bring a financial affidavit or proof of income; pay stubs, tax returns, etc.
Car titles, deeds to home or shared property
Copies of any other court orders involving you and the other person (divorce, custody, parental responsibility, time-sharing, child support, etc.)
The judge can enter a final injunction without you if you were served and notified of the hearing.
FEDERAL LAW PROHIBITS A PERSON FROM POSSESSING OR TRANSPORTING FIREARMS AND/OR AMMUNITION IF:
See 18 U.S.C.A. §922(g) (8-9). A civil injunction for protection in Florida is a court order that meets the description above.
Ask the deputy clerk for information about the local domestic violence center and other resources in your community. Contact the Clerk of Court or Court Administration if you require an interpreter for your hearing.
SPARCC 24-Hr. Hotline
Sarasota- (941) 365-1976
HOPE Family Services, Inc.
Manatee- (941) 747-8499
Crisis Line - (941) 755-6805
Florida Domestic Violence Hotline
1 (800) 500-1119
TDD1 (800) 621-4202
Sheriff’s Victim Assistance
Sarasota- (941) 861-4942
Manatee- (941) 747-3011 ext. 2501
Desoto- (863) 993-4700 ext. 248
Sarasota- (941) 366-8000
Manatee- (941) 932-9300
Venice- (941) 486-2444
Desoto- (863) 494-2222
State Attorney’s Office
Sarasota- (941) 861-4400
Venice- (941) 861-3200
Manatee- (941) 747-3077
Desoto- (863) 993-4881
Child Protection Center, Inc.
Sarasota/DeSoto- (941) 365-1277
Clerk of Court
Sarasota- (941) 861-7400
Manatee- (941) 749-1800
Desoto- (863) 993-4876
The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service