Domestic violence is an issue that plagues families throughout the country. It is not exclusive to people who are married or in relationships. If can affect all members of a family, including children. In Florida, domestic violence is considered any assault or battery that results in injury to a family member or another person living in the household.
The Sunshine State has several laws in place designed to shield and protect people from domestic violence. Although it cannot be stopped entirely, the goal is to decrease the number of families and people who are victim to the abuse. One possible way is through a domestic violence protective order.
Protective orders are designed to limit the interaction one person has with another, whether that is physical contact or any sort of interaction. The orders are supposed to keep people safe from another, but domestic violence protective orders can be complicated.
A person can file for a protective order if he or she has been the victim of domestic violence or if there is the fear he or she might become a victim. For instance, if a spouse says he or she will harm the other person or that person’s family, a protective order could be issued.
To obtain a protective order, a person first must petition to the court requesting the order be instated. The court will use several factors to determine whether the petitioner has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in danger, including the history between the two parties.
A court is likely to grant a protective order if there has been physical abuse, threats of abuse, threats of kidnapping or harming children, abuse or killing of a family pet or use of a weapon. Whether the respondent – the person the order is filed against -has stopped the other spouse from calling law enforcement also could be used as proof.
The domestic violence laws only apply if the respondent is the petitioner’s spouse, former spouse, related by blood or marriage, living with the petitioner now or has in the past lived as a family. The law also would apply if the person shares a child or children with the petitioner, whether or not they have been married or lived together.
In Florida, violating a protective order is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fee. A person can violate it in several different ways, including:
• Refusing to vacate the home, apartment or dwelling shared by both parties
• Being within 500 feet of the petitioner’s home, school, job, or any location specified as a place frequented by the petitioner, or a family member
• Committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner
• Threatening by words or actions to harm the petitioner
• Intentionally communicating with the petitioner