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More and more frequently individuals are being arrested, prosecuted, and convicted from the Crime of Violation of a Domestic Violence Injunction in Orange, Seminole, and Volusia Counties. Although a Domestic Violence Injunction is only a civil matter, if a person allegedly  violates either a temporary or permanent injunction a criminal offense may have occurred. Often an individual consents to an Injunction (Restraining Order) or waives having an attorney present during a hearing without knowing of the consequences. If a Temporary Injunction becomes permanent the Respondent (the person who the injunction is for) can have no contact with the Petitioner, may lose child custody and contact, may have to pay temporary child support, can no longer possess a firearm, may jeopardize child custody arrangements in the future, and if the injunction is violated will be arrested and charged with a crime. Sometimes alleged victims use the Criminal Justice System as a tool for their own harassment of an accused or leverage in a pending child custody or divorce case. In Florida, to violate a domestic violence injunction any contact counts, that includes texting or Facebook. Here is a look at the Statute:

741.31 Violation of an injunction for protection against domestic violence

(1)  In the event of a violation of the injunction for protection against domestic violence when there has not been an arrest, the petitioner may contact the clerk of the circuit court of the county in which the violation is alleged to have occurred. The clerk shall either assist the petitioner in the preparation of an affidavit in support of the violation or direct the petitioner to the office operated by the court within the circuit that has been designated by the chief judge of that circuit as the central intake point for injunction violations and where the petitioner can receive assistance in the preparation of the affidavit in support of the violation.

(2) The affidavit shall be immediately forwarded by the office assisting the petitioner to the state attorney of that circuit and to such court or judge as the chief judge of that circuit determines to be the recipient of affidavits of violation. If the affidavit alleges a crime has been committed, the office assisting the petitioner shall also forward a copy of the petitioner’s affidavit to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation. No later than 20 days after receiving the initial report, the local law enforcement agency shall complete their investigation and forward the report to the state attorney. The policy adopted by the state attorney in each circuit under s. 741.2901(2), shall include a policy regarding intake of alleged violations of injunctions for protection against domestic violence under this section. The intake shall be supervised by a prosecutor who, pursuant to s. 741.2901(1), has been designated and assigned to handle domestic violence cases. The state attorney shall determine within 30 working days whether its office will proceed to file criminal charges, or prepare a motion for an order to show cause as to why the respondent should not be held in criminal contempt, or prepare both as alternative findings, or file notice that the case remains under investigation or is pending subject to some other action.

(3) If the court has knowledge, based on its familiarity with the case, that the petitioner, the children of the petitioner, or another person is in immediate danger if the court fails to act prior to the decision of the state attorney to prosecute, it should immediately issue an order of appointment of the state attorney to file a motion for an order to show cause as to why the respondent should not be held in contempt. If the court does not issue an order of appointment of the state attorney, it shall immediately notify the state attorney that the court is proceeding to enforce the violation through criminal contempt.

(4)(a) A person who willfully violates an injunction for protection against domestic violence by:
1. Refusing to vacate the dwelling that the parties share.
2.  Going to, or being within 500 feet of, the petitioner’s residence, school, place of employment, or a specified place frequented regularly by the petitioner and any named family or household member;
3. Committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner;
4.  Committing any other violation of the injunction through an intentional unlawful threat, word, or act to do violence to the petitioner;
5.  Telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner directly or indirectly, unless the injunction specifically allows indirect contact through a third party
6. Knowingly and intentionally coming within 100 feet of the petitioner’s motor vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is occupied;
7. Defacing or destroying the petitioner’s personal property, including the petitioner’s motor vehicle; or
8. Refusing to surrender firearms or ammunition if ordered to do so by the court commits a misdemeanor of the first degree

As you can see the statute is all encompassing and may set a trap for a person who does not intend to violate the Injunction. The Prosecutor must prove intent, like most crimes, and if the State cannot prove intent that one violates than a case should not go forward.

Contact Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney, Ryan Yadav, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, for a free consultation if you have been charged with violation of an injunction for domestic violence.