Injunctions are very similar to restraining orders in Florida. They are essentially “stay-away” orders the court applies for petitioners that believe they are in danger. There are different types of injunctions and hundreds of ways to violate them. Here at Oldham & Delcamp we are client-focused and have the legal experience you need if you’ve been charged with a violation of injunction.
What is an Injunction?
When the court orders you to stay away from someone, it is called an injunction order. In Florida, an injunction is a court order which prohibits or restricts a person’s ability to have contact with another person. These court orders will come with detailed paperwork, and they can be temporary or permanent. Injunction orders can arise from divorce situations, domestic violence or other civil lawsuits. The failure to follow the court order by for example, making contact with the protected party or getting too close to them, may constitute a violation.
What is the Penalty for Violating an Injunction?
In Florida, the penalty for violating an injunction is severe – it is a first degree misdemeanor which can earn you up to a year in jail or on probation, along with some serious fines.
Types of Injunctions in Florida
How to Avoid Violating an Injunction
Every case is a unique situation, so read your injunction paperwork carefully. You may be required to stay at least 500 feet away from the petitioner, to stay away from their home, workplace, school or vehicle. You may be forbidden by the court to contact the petitioner at all, via phone, social media, mail or any other method. While it would certainly be a violation to attack or physically hurt the petitioner, you also cannot deface their property or be near their vehicle (even if they aren’t in it).
You may be ordered by the court to turn in any firearms. Failure to do that would be a violation.
Always read the paperwork multiple times, paying close attention to the dates and addresses on paperwork. Your injunction may or may not be permanent. In domestic situations, it may even include the address you’ve been living at. It is better to be overcautious in complying with the order than be too relaxed or not take it seriously.
What if the Petitioner is Contacting You?
You must make every effort to stay away. Once the court has ordered an injunction it is no longer up to the petitioner! Do not accept their calls, texts or social media messages. Do not allow them to enter your residence or vehicle. Calmly leave the petitioner’s presence, even if they walk up to you while you are busy (at the grocery checkout line or your place of work, for example). It is your responsibility to remove yourself from the situation. If you have an order of injunction and the petitioner is harassing you, make a record of it, preserve all evidence available, and call a lawyer to assist.
Even if some time has gone by since the order was established, and you believe the petitioner wants to reconcile the relationship, you still need to stay away because you can still be charged with a violation. Once the injunctions is in place, you and the petitioner no longer make the decision whether or not you can be around each other, instead the terms of the injunction do.
What if I Violate an Injunction by Accident?
For instance, if you walked into a grocery store not knowing the petitioner was shopping inside, you’d need to turn around and leave as soon as you saw them. Being at the other end of the store might be far enough, or it might not. Your best action here would be to leave and shop somewhere else. If law enforcement is contacted because you were allegedly too close or made contact accidentally, chances are you will be charged with a violation.
Your lack of intent to violate the injunction is a defense, but it can be hard to prove for all parties. Make notes of the incident and try to obtain all records possible. For example, messages and GPS/phone tracking applications can show you visited a location on your own volition, not to follow or contact the petitioner.
Get Legal Help
As you can see, injunction orders (and violations) can cause some serious upheaval in your life. If you need legal assistance don’t hesitate to contact us. We can schedule a consultation to help you understand your injunction orders or charges of a violation. We have two locations to serve you: St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park. You can schedule a consultation by phone at 727-800-3391. We also offer help with theft, suspended license, DUI law and auto accident law.
Oldham & Delcamp is a member of the Attorney’s Real Estate Council of Broward County, is also currently on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Bar Association, and is the former chair of the Real Property section.
When your freedom is on the line, you need an attorney that is aggressive, responsive, and experienced. Oldham & Delcamp is committed to making sure that each of our clients receives the personalized attention of one of our attorneys.