Injunction: What is it and How it Works


Injunction: What is it and How it Works

In Florida, an injunction or an injunction for protection is what is typically referred to as a restraining order in other states. In essence, it is a court order directing one individual to longer have contact with another individual or individuals. Despite injunctions being issued as part of civil proceedings, they can have far-reaching ramifications for all involved, including criminal implications. Regardless of whether you have served an injunction or have been served with one, obtain independent legal advice to understand your rights and obligations.

Nevertheless, this article explains what injunctions are and how they work in Florida to give you a starting point of reference.

What is an Injuction?

As explained in the introduction, an injunction is a restraining order. They tend to be used to prevent one individual (the respondent) from doing something to another individual or individuals (the petitioner(s)), or even coming into contact with them.

Injunctions are serious court orders and can carry the same implications as criminal cases. If you plan to fight an injunction, especially if you feel it is unjust, immediately speaking to an attorney is imperative. The process to acquire an injunction is open to abuse with false injunctions a fairly regular occurrence, thus adding more credence to the need of speaking to a legal professional.

There are six different types of injunctions in Florida which are: 

1. Domestic Violence

Reasons for an injunction include assault or aggravated assault, battery or aggravated battery, sexual assault or battery, stalking and aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or other crimes that could result in injury or death to the petitioner. Such an injunction can be filed against a respondent who is living or has lived with respondents as family. 

2. Dating Violence

If an injunction for dating violence is to be filed, these three factors have to be met: the people involved have dated for the last six months, there was an expectation of continued sexual involvement and affection, and they interacted frequently and continuously during the relationship.  

3. Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult 

An injunction can be filed if a person who is in a position of trust and/or confidence or has a business relationship with the vulnerable adult, exploits them by knowingly obtaining or using, or endeavoring to obtain or use, their funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive them of the use, benefit, or possession of the funds, assets, or property, or to benefit someone other than them.

4. Repeat Violence

If the reason for an injunction does not apply to domestic, dating, or sexual violence, then a repeat of this type of injunction can be filed. It can involve various parties who may not have lived together, including neighbors, co-workers, students, or relatives. For this type of injunction to be issued, there must have been at least two incidents of threats or physical violence, or stalking, with at least one of them occurring within six months of the petition.

5. Sexual Violence

An injunction can be sought to prevent sexual violence from reoccurring if the petitioner has been subjected to any sex act done to them against their will, or against an individual who is incapable of understanding the sexual act done to them. Several types of action are considered sexually violent so if in doubt seeking legal advice as the petitioner or respondent is prudent.

6. Stalking

An injunction can be sought if an individual is specifically willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following harassing or cyberstalking another individual, without a legitimate purpose. This stalking must also cause the petitioner substantial emotional distress.

How Does an Injuction Work?

Each of the above injunctions requires different details to be shown at court by the petitioner, although that standard of proof is all the same. This means the petitioner must satisfy the court that the evidence shown adequately meets the requirements of the respective injunction they are seeking. Furthermore, the petitioner has to attend court, otherwise, the judge will usually dismiss their injunction.

It is a judge that determines whether an injunction can be granted. There are no juries at this type of hearing. A correctly completed petition detailing sufficient content requesting an injunction will more than likely see the judge grant a temporary injunction and order date for the final injunction hearing as soon as possible. 

Between the temporary date and final hearing, the respondent cannot have any contact with the petitioner. The respondent must further abide by any further orders by the judge that is included in the temporary injunction.

When the final injunction hearing takes place, both parties should have legal counsel. This is because the rules of evidence and court procedures still apply. Furthermore, during this hearing, both sides are entitled to an impartial decision-maker and the opportunity to present their case. During the latter, they can call witnesses and present any evidence they may have.  

During the final injunction hearing, findings of fact must be demonstrated to warrant the issue of any of the injunctions. These facts must be substantial and meet the requirements. Therefore, it may be found that a respondent yelling obscenities at the petitioner more than once from across the street may not be enough alone to justify the issuing of an injunction.

Should the judge grant the injunction it can be amended or later withdrawn. This is particularly unique to Florida. A petition by the relevant party or parties must be put forward to the judge. The judge will either modify or dismiss the injunction based on the petition received. However, this will not be said to have occurred until the judge signs an order declaring the injunction has indeed been officially modified or dismissed by them.

Courts are naturally very busy, dealing with many different matters daily. This means that you may have a limited time before a judge. Therefore, ensure that you are prepared to state your case, both confidently and succinctly. Whilst it may be hard to curtail emotion in what is undoubtedly an emotive matter, focusing on the facts and having any relevant evidence to hand will help your case immensely.

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