Restraining Orders: Everything You Need to Know
Restraining orders are a useful tool meant to help protect the vulnerable. Unfortunately, they are sometimes abused by individuals who think it may help them in some way. Whether it’s a contentious divorce case, a bad breakup, or another kind of dispute, a restraining order can be wielded like a weapon to secure temporary custody, keep an individual from their rightful residence, or otherwise harm another person.
At Mike G Law, I fully support the use of restraining orders when legally appropriate and necessary. I believe they can help protect victims of domestic violence and other vulnerable individuals. As a former prosecutor, I’ve seen how restraining orders can help give victims the strength and resolve they need to disentangle themselves from their abusers.
Unfortunately, I’ve also seen cases where restraining orders have been used as a bargaining chip, causing unnecessary damage to the accused’s reputation, career, and relationships. As a defense attorney, I help my clients fight false accusations of domestic violence and contest restraining orders.
A strong legal defense is key for ensuring your voice is heard and that your story gets told.
Who Can Get a Restraining Order in Florida?
As in most counties, there are six different types of restraining orders available in Hillsborough County. They are meant to protect individuals from particular situations, such as domestic violence and stalking. Each type of restraining order has its own requirements that must be met. The Hillsborough County Clerk of Court & Comptroller page lays out the various types of restraining orders, as well as information about applying for a restraining order.
In order to get a domestic violence protective order—also known as a domestic violence injunction—an individual must show that s/he is the victim of domestic violence or that s/he fears that s/he will become of the victim of domestic violence. The individual will need to present evidence to a judge indicating past violence or why he or she now believes they are in danger. They may also have other individuals testify on their behalf. All of this is done without the knowledge of the individual who is the restraining order is “against.”
It’s important to note that during this process, the judge only decides whether a temporary injunction is appropriate or not. They don’t parse the evidence seeking the truth; this will happen later on. Initially, they just do their best to protect the individuals asking for injunctions and determine whether they meet the base requirements.
What Happens When Someone Gets a Restraining Order Against You?
If an individual attempts to file a restraining order against you and the judge does not grant the protective order, you will likely not even know that this has happened. When someone seeks to have a restraining order against another individual, the other individual isn’t informed unless the protective order is granted.
If an individual succeeds in securing a protective order against you, you will be notified of the temporary restraining order and the terms in writing. The Sheriff’s department will serve you with the injunction. You will be issued a date for a full hearing (which should be 15 days after the initial hearing) where you must appear and present your side of the story.
Until then, you must abide by the temporary order. This means you may have to refrain from contacting your children and you may have to move out of your residence if you haven’t already done so. Failure to abide by the terms of the temporary restraining order could lead to a criminal charge.
At this point, it is crucial to talk to a knowledgeable defense attorney that has experience dealing with restraining orders.
Fighting a Restraining Order in Florida
Your full hearing is your opportunity to tell your story to a judge. However, a judge doesn’t want to hear that the order against you isn’t fair. They’re not interested in sob stories—they want evidence.
During the initial hearing to grant the restraining order, your accuser presented evidence of their claims against you. This may have included past convictions, photographs of alleged abuse, or voicemails and text messages. To defend yourself, you will need your own evidence. And in order to give a valid legal defense and have the order against you removed, it’s important to have a lawyer by your side.
A skilled defense attorney can help you determine what may be best for your particular situation. This may include evidence that calls into question the credibility of the other party, and proof of an alibi if a particular event is at the center of the battle. If the individual who sought the protection order against you has contacted you with threats or has attempted to negotiate with you after the temporary order went into effect, it’s important to keep those messages as they may help your case.
The full hearing is your opportunity to shed light on the truth. While the initial hearing was skewed in favor of the accuser, the full hearing is all about determining whether the allegations are actually valid and whether a permanent protection order is necessary.
If a permanent restraining order is placed against you, it will become part of the public record. This can make it harder to find a job. For individuals with children, the biggest impact can be to their custody situation. A permanent restraining order can lead to limited custody, such as only supervised visitation.
Don’t Settle — Fight! Call a Tampa Restraining Order Lawyer Today
Our system isn’t perfect, and we have to do our best to work within its constraints. That doesn’t mean that you have to take every punch that’s thrown at you. Whether you’re going through a contentious divorce or dealing with a relationship that has gone bad, it’s important that you make it through with your reputation intact. Don’t let your life be ruined by a retaliatory restraining order — call Mike G. Law today and fight for your future.