What To Expect At A Full Hearing In A Florida Domestic Violence Case
A domestic violence case may start with a police encounter, arrest, and criminal charges, but there are also civil remedies for victims that do not involve a confrontation with law enforcement. Florida’s domestic violence statute allows a person to obtain a restraining order on an emergency basis by filing a petition and attaching an affidavit describing the violence or threats. The judge can issue the domestic violence injunction right away, without providing notice to the person accused of violence – i.e., the respondent. As a result, you might not find out about the proceedings until AFTER the order is entered.
However, because you did not receive notice and were unable to defend the allegations at the initial hearing, the order of protection can only last for 15 days. At this point, another hearing date is set to determine whether the emergency restraining order should be extended. You will have ample opportunity to prepare for, contest the allegations, and present all defenses, so retaining a Dade City domestic violence lawyer is critical. Some information on what to expect is also helpful.
A Domestic Violence Injunction is a Civil Remedy But May Involve Criminal Penalties.
This is an important point, because the proceedings involving a restraining order are NOT what you may know about criminal laws. The petitioner is the party seeking relief through an injunction that limits your activities. The opposing party is not the prosecutor who is seeking a conviction and jail time. However, a violation of an injunction whether it is temporary or permanent, can result in criminal penalties.
The Petitioner Has the Burden of Proof
The petitioner stands in the position of a plaintiff in a domestic violence injunction case. He or she must have sufficient evidence to prove that you engaged in violence or threats in the past, and that you are likely to engage in future misconduct. Note that the burden is not the proof beyond a reasonable doubt that is required for criminal cases. The petitioner needs to show that he or she:
- Is a victim of domestic violence; or,
- Has reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent will engage in domestic violence.
Options for Presenting Defenses
This full hearing on the restraining order is possibly the first opportunity you will have to defend your interests. This is your chance to:
- Dispute the petitioner’s allegations;
- Provide evidence of an alibi;
- Cross-examine the petitioner; and,
- Present your own witnesses.
You should note that petitioners are sometimes unwilling to participate in the second, full hearing. Once the immediate threat is over and the 15 days pass, your accuser could be a no-show.
If the petitioner does not meet the initial burden of proof or fails to attend, the case could be dismissed. However, the judge will evaluate the evidence on both sides. The court could extend the restraining order or deny the petitioner’s request for an order of protection.
Trust a Florida Domestic Violence Injunctions Attorney to Represent You
For more information on the second hearing in a domestic violence case, please contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane. Individuals in Pasco County can call 352-567-0055 or go online to set up a consultation. We can provide additional details and discuss strategies for protecting your rights.