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Domestic Violence Crimes in Polk County, FL

According to date from the Florida Statistical Analysis Center and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s annual Uniform Crime Report system, Polk County’s domestic violence rate was 728.8 incidents per 100,000 for 2017.

Under Florida law, crimes of violence are classified as “domestic violence” when they involve:

  • a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim;
  • a person with whom the victim shares a child in common;
  • a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;
  • a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of jurisdiction; or
  • any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person under the domestic or family violence laws in Florida.

These crimes of violence involve allegations that the act caused fear for a person’s safety or caused physical or psychological injury, pain, or illness.

The most common criminal charges for domestic violence include assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, battery on a pregnant female, and domestic violence by strangulation. More serious accusations can involve sexual battery, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, or false imprisonment.

Attorney for Crimes of Domestic Violence in Polk County, FL

If you are accused of a crime involving violence within a familial or intimate partner relationship, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for Polk County, FL, at Sammis Law Firm.

We also represent clients after the alleged victim of domestic violence files for an “Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence.” In the injunction, the petitioner will allege being in fear that another unlawful act of violence might occur in the immediate future.

Our domestic violence lawyers also represent the respondent who is served with a petition for a protective order against domestic violence.

Call 813-250-0500.

Criteria for Proving the Existence of the Domestic Relationship

Under Florida law, when a violent act is committed by a person against another who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:

  • the length of the relationship;
  • the type of the relationship; and
  • the frequency of interaction between persons involved in the relationship.

True acts of domestic violence involve a pattern of controlling behaviors that include violence or threats of violence. The acts are committed by one person to establish power over an intimate partner in order to control that partner’s actions and activities.

The definition of domestic violence should be distinguished from other types of issues that arise in a relationship such as a disagreement, a marital spat, or an anger management problem.

Domestic Violence Injunctions for Protection in Polk County, FL

In these cases, the alleged victim will often petition the court for an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence. The petition for the protective order is filed at the Clerk of Court, Domestic Violence Department, 1st Floor, Polk County Courthouse in Bartow.

Each year, more than 3,000 injunctions for protection for domestic, dating or sexual violence are filed in the Polk County Clerk’s office, and more than 1,000 injunctions for protection for stalking are filed.

The Clerk’s Office will help the petitioner fill out the petition for the restraining order. If the allegations are sufficient, the judge will enter a Temporary Order for Protection Against Domestic Violence after reviewing the petition.

The grounds for the injunction for protection against domestic violence requires the petitioner and respondent reside together as a family or have lived together with you in the past as if they were a family member and identify as:

  • a spouse or former spouse;
  • a person related by blood or marriage;
  • a person who has lived together with you as though they were your spouse; or
  • a person with whom you have had a child together, even if you have never lived together.

If the temporary order is granted, the respondent must be personally served with a copy of the petition, the notice of the hearing, and a copy of the temporary injunction. The formal hearing on the petition is scheduled within 15 days.

Violations of an Injunction for Protection from Domestic Violence

What happens if the respondent is accused of violating the restraining order for protection from domestic violence?

In Polk County, FL, if the alleged abuser is accused of disobeying the injunction by threatening or committing abuses against the petitioner, the petitioner is encouraged to call your local law enforcement agency.

When the officers are shown a certified copy of the Injunction for Protection and have probable cause that the violation occurred, they are permitted to make a warrantless arrest. In other cases, the petitioner is encouraged to file a “Motion for Contempt” at the county courthouse in Bartow, FL.

Additional Resources

Domestic Violence Shelters in Polk County – Visit the website of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) to learn more about the Home Centers Peace River Center Domestic Violence Shelter (Peace River). The mission of Peace River Center’s Victim Services’ Program is to reduce the number of domestic and sexual violence within the Tri-County area. Peace River is certified by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. The Victim Services Office Line hotline number is 863.413.2708.

Domestic Violence in Polk County During COVID-19 – Visit the website of the Polk County Clerk of Court, Stacy M. Butterfield, to find out more about domestic violence crimes. Find out how the petitioner files a petition for an “Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence” on the first floor at the Polk County Courthouse in Bartow, FL. The website also provides answers to “frequently asked questions” such as:

  • What is an injunction?
  • Where can I obtain an injunction?
  • What happens after the judge grants the temporary injunction?
  • What are the costs to file for a restraining order?
  • How does the injunction protect me?
  • What happens after the judge grants the injunction?
  • What can I do if the injunction is violated?

Polk’s Domestic Violence Task Force – In an effort to decrease domestic violence, a task force was created to meet on a monthly basis. The task force for domestic violence in Polk County consists of law enforcement, prosecutors and judges in the court system, and employees of Healthy Families. The Polk County Domestic Violence Symposium is hosted by Tenth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida DV TASK FORCE.

This article was last updated on Thursday, July 23, 2020.

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