Protective Order Hearings
If you want to contest the allegations after being served with the petition, then you have come to the right place. The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm only represent “respondents.”
We represent the respondent in a variety of protective order cases including domestic violence, repeat violence, dating violence, stalking or cyberstalking. Sometimes these types of cases are called “Interpersonal Violence Injunctions.”
We also represent clients for the newest types of injunctions for “exploitation of the elderly” or the “risk protection order (RPO)”.
Injunctions are serious matters that show up in even the most basic background checks by potential employers, landlords, educational institutions, organizations, or even youth sports leagues. The collateral consequences of a civil protection order are far-reaching and long-lasting.
In many ways, they are more serious than criminal charges because they can’t be sealed or expunged. Furthermore, an allegation of violating the order might lead to your arrest and prosecution for a crime.
In 2017, approximately 6,600 applications for domestic violence restraining orders were processed at the Clerk of Court at the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse in downtown Tampa.
To find out whether a petition for a protective order or injunction is pending against you in Hillsborough County, FL, then search the HOVER website. If your protection order is pending in another county in Florida, you can use the search feature on the website for the clerk’s office in that county.
Attorneys for Protective Order Hearings in Tampa, FL
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm, P.A., fight protective order cases throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, and the surrounding counties including Pasco County, Hernando County, Pinellas County, and Polk County, FL.
We aggressively fight to protect our clients from the serious consequences of these protective restraining orders. In many of these cases, the petition contains false or exaggerated accusations.
Under 2019 CS/HB 7125, which takes effect on October 1, 2019, you might be able to get the petitioner to pay your attorney fees if you prevail on the claim and the court finds:
- the petitioner knowingly made a false statement or allegation in the petition;
- the petitioner either knew or should have known that the claim was:
- not supported by the material facts necessary to establish the claim or defense; or
- would not be supported by the application of then-existing law to those material facts.
With offices are located in downtown Tampa just a few blocks from the courthouse, we represent both men and women in Tampa or Plant City in Hillsborough County, FL. We also have a second office in New Port Richey in Pasco County, FL, which is conveniently located across from the courthouse at the West Pasco Judicial Center.
We represent clients throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County, Brooksville in Hernando County and Bartow and Winter Haven in Polk County, FL.
Call (813) 250-0500 today.
Judges for Protective Order Hearings in Tampa, FL
In Hillsborough County, FL, petitions for protection against violence are heard by one of four judges. The injunction hearings in Hillsborough County take place at either the Tampa or the Plant City courthouse. According to a recent administrative order, the Protective Injunctions Division (formerly Domestic Violence Division) has the following assignment:
The Judges who currently hear injunction cases in Hillsborough County include:
- Senor Judges are temporarily being assigned to Division G, in courtroom number 302, of the Hillsborough County Edgecomb Courthouse, 800 East Twiggs St, Tampa, FL 33602.
- Effective June 17, 2019, The Honorable Jessica G. Costello, Circuit Court Judge, is assigned to Protective Injunctions Division “H” in courtroom number 303, of the Hillsborough County Edgecomb Courthouse, 800 East Twiggs St, Tampa, FL 33602.
- The Honorable Lisa A. Allen, Circuit Court Judge, is assigned to Protective Injunctions Division “K” in courtroom number 306, of the Hillsborough County Edgecomb Courthouse, 800 East Twiggs St, Tampa, FL 33602.
- The Honorable Art McNeil, Circuit Court Judge in Division S, in courtroom number 1, of the County Office Building, 301 N. Michigan Ave., Plant City, FL 33563.
- The Honorable Richard A. Weis, Circuit Court Judge in Division V, in courtroom number 3, of the County Office Building, 301 N. Michigan Ave., Plant City, FL 33563.
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm have appeared in front of these judges for hearings. Let us put our experience to work for you as we fight to make sure that your rights are protected at every stage of the case.
Avoid a Hearing by Ambush – Request a Continuance
At Sammis Law Firm, our attorneys investigate the allegations made by the petitioner. Although these hearings take place on an emergency basis, you are entitled to have an attorney that is completely prepared for the hearing. We can help you avoid getting ambushed.
In most cases, we take the following actions in a restraining order case so that we are prepared for the return hearing:
- At the upcoming scheduled hearing (“return hearing”) we often request a continuance so that we can take the petitioner’s deposition, subpoena any relevant witnesses, and investigate the prior difficulties between the parties to show whether the claims are false or exaggerated.
- If a temporary injunction was originally issued, then the restraining order stays in effect during the continuance (in some cases the court will set a hearing on the petition without issuing an interim temporary injunction).
- By requesting a continuance we are able to complete a thorough investigation and prepare for the hearing.
- We then subpoena the witnesses so that we can take their deposition and question those witnesses about the allegations made in the petition.
- We talk with the petitioner’s attorney about other ways to address the petitioner’s concerns. The protective order is a drastic remedy that should be reserved for only the most serious cases that involve a true act of violence or threat of violence.
- When appropriate, we find the evidence showing the injunction is being used to harass the respondent or gain an advantage in a civil case for divorce, child custody, or money damages.
Avoid a Lifetime of Serious Consequences after an Injunction
Domestic violence injunctions are serious matters with serious consequences that can last a lifetime including:
- Any restraining order is public record that can be uncovered by employers during the most basic background search which can impact your ability to get a job for the rest of your life;
- That record and the allegations made by the petitioner can never be sealed or expunged even if the judge finds the allegations to be unfounded after a hearing;
- While the injunction is in effect, you lose certain civil rights, including the right to possess a firearm;
- You might be ordered to get a psychological examination and complete any recommended follow-up treatment;
- You might be ordered to attend 26 weeks of classes for the Batterer’s Intervention Program;
- You might be ordered to no contact or only supervised contact with your children.
Contact an experienced attorney in Tampa that handles injunctions for protection against domestic violence or repeat violence. We also represent clients charged with domestic violence / battery.
We represent clients in Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, Clearwater and St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, and Brooksville in Hernando County, Florida.
Allegations of Violence in a Petition for Protective Order
Any man or woman claiming to be the victim of violence can apply for an injunction for protection against domestic violence or repeat violence (the “restraining order”) in Florida.
The person filing the petition is called the “petitioner” and the person that is the target of the petition is called the “respondent.” The petition can be filed by anyone over the age of eighteen (18) to protect the petitioner and/or the petitioner’s children.
The court first decides whether it will grant a temporary injunction on an ex parte basis (after only considering the petitioner’s allegations). The court will then schedule the final hearing for 15 days later. During those fifteen days, attempts are made to serve the respondent with a copy of the paperwork.
In many cases, the court will sign an order setting a hearing on the petition for injunction for protection without the issuance of an interim temporary injunction. Read more about why the court might enter an order denying a petition for injunction for protection against domestic violence.
What Happens After the Court Schedules a Hearing on the Petition?
After the court schedules the hearing on the petition, the petitioner is generally permitted to amend or supplement the petition at any time to state further reasons why a temporary injunction should be ordered.
In most cases, however, the allegations are sufficient to issue the ex parte interim temporary injunction. Even if the temporary injunction for protection is not issued pending the hearing schedules, an injunction CAN be entered after the hearing depending on the findings made by the Court at that time.
In many cases, the Respondent’s attorney can request a continuance for the return hearing in order to take the Petitioner’s deposition and further investigate the allegations. The hearing is then usually rescheduled for 15 days later during which time the interim temporary restraining order (if any) is continued.
At the final hearing, the Respondent’s attorney can cross-examine the petitioner and present other testimony and evidence. These hearings are governed by the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure apply to domestic, repeat, dating, and sexual violence, and stalking proceedings. See Rule 12.010(a)(1).
The attorney representing the respondent is allowed to engage in pre-trial discovery including:
- depositions (rule 12.290);
- interrogatories (rule 12.340);
- production of documents (rule 12.350);
- examination of persons (rule 12.360); and
- requests for admission (rule 12.370).
The petitioner is not required, however, to the mandatory disclosure ruled required in other types of family law cases under Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285.
Injunction for Domestic Violence in Hillsborough County, FL
Hillsborough County has special circuit family law divisions that hear each petition for an injunction against domestic violence or repeat violence in Tampa and Plant City, FL. The Injunction for Protection (IFP) Against Violence Program for Hillsborough County is located at:The George Edgecomb Courthouse Facility
800 East Twiggs Street, Rm 101
Tampa, Florida, 33601
The petition can be filed at the courthouse on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. These protective order hearings are also heard at the courthouse in Plant City, FL. Read more about protective orders from violence hearings in Plant City, FL.
Consequences of the Injunction Restraining Order for Protection
If a final injunction for protection is granted against you in Florida, serious consequences can result including the following:
- The injunction can be enforced in all 50 states;
- You may be required to leave your home, and prevented from seeing your child, or order to pay child support;
- You may not be able to purchase or possess a firearm or other weapon, including ammunition;
- The injunctions can have serious effects on your family law, divorce or child custody case;
- If it is alleged that you violated the order, you can be arrested for violation of repeat violence injunction or violation of domestic violence injunctions which is a first-degree misdemeanor;
- You could be charged with stalking or aggravated stalking that might carry a “no bond” provision;
- You could be subject to deportation or your application for citizenship would be affected;
- A professional license may be affected especially for nurses or health care professionals, law enforcement officers, members of the military, lawyers or law school students, and licensed child care providers;
- Your employment applications may be affected, especially for any job that requires a background check, or the possession of a firearm;
- Your application for housing may be affected;
- Your admission to universities, colleges, or the military may be affected; and
- Your eligibility for certain scholarships and/or federal grants may be affected.
Federal Law Against Possessing a Firearm or Ammunition after a Protective Order
Federal law, 18 U.S.C.A. Section 922(g)(8-9), prohibits any person from owning, possessing or using a firearm or ammunition under the following circumstances:
- If the man or woman has been convicted of any misdemeanor act of domestic violence, including domestic assault or domestic battery; or
- If the man or woman is the subject of a court order that does one of the following:
- Was granted after the person received notice and had the chance to participate before the order was granted;
- Provides for some kind of restraint of the individual from stalking, threatening or harassing a domestic relation, or if the order prevents any actions that would place another domestic relation in reasonable fear of bodily injury or harm;
- Provides a finding that the person is a credible threat to the safety of the domestic relation; or
- Prevents the use of physical force against the domestic relation that would reasonably by expected to cause bodily harm.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order in Tampa, FL
A restraining order for domestic violence may be requested by any man or woman who claims to be the victim of domestic violence or who claims to believe that he or she will soon become the victim of domestic violence in Florida.
To qualify as “domestic violence” under Florida law the incidents described in the petition must have occurred between a husband and wife, a former husband and wife, people related by marriage or blood, people who are living together as an intimate couple, or parents who have a child in common.
The domestic relationship is usually defined to include gay or lesbian couples who have lived together in an intimate relationship.
Repeat Violence Restraining Orders in Tampa, FL
In order to file a restraining order petition for repeat violence in Florida, a person must claim to have been a victim of two acts of violence or stalking committed by another. At least one of those incidents must have occurred within the last six (6) months.
The person filing the petition need not show that the relationship is “romantic” or “domestic.” Thus, the motion can be filed by neighbors, co-workers, or former friends.
Under Florida Statute Section 784.046(1)b) and (2)(a), the respondent must have committed two acts of violence or stalking on two separate occasions, one of which must have occurred within the last 6 months. These types of restraining orders are the most prone to abuse and the most likely to be overturned on appeal.
Protective Orders for Dating Violence in Tampa, FL
Dating violence under Florida law refers to violence between two individuals involved in an intimate or romantic relationship that was significant and continued for some extended period of time within the last six months.
Dating violence does not include ordinary relations, whether business or social, between two individuals who did not engage in or have an expectation of engaging in intimate or sexual relations. An order for protection from dating violence is only appropriate when a battery, assault, stalking, kidnapping or false imprisonment allegation is made.
Protective Orders for Sexual Violence in Tampa, FL
Sexual violence under Florida law refers to at least one incident of sexual battery, or any other forcible felony involving a sexual act or an attempted sexual act regardless of whether the parties were domestically related.
Protective Orders for Stalking in Tampa, FL
The Petition for Injunction for Protection against Stalking requires the Petitioner to disclose any reasons why the Petitioner believes he or she is a victim of Stalking including whether:
- The Respondent committed stalking against the Petitioner;
- The Respondent previously physically abused, cyberstalked, stalked harassed or threatened the Petitioner;
- The Respondent threatened to harm Petitioner or a family member or other person closely associated with Petitioner;
- The Respondent intentionally injured or killed a family pet;
- The Respondent used, or threatened to use, against Petitioner any weapon such as a gun or knife;
- The Respondent has a criminal history involving violence or the threat of violence; and/or
- The Respondent has another order of protection issued against him or her previously from another jurisdiction; if known.
In the petition, the Petitioner is also instructed to give a description of the specific incidents of stalking or cyberstalking.
For cyberstalking the Petitioner is instructed to include a description of all evidence of contacts and/or threats made by Respondent in voice messages, texts, emails, or other electronic communications.
Temporary Orders are Usually Granted
After the person claiming to be the victim of domestic or repeat violence files a petition in Florida, the paperwork is submitted to the judge. If the court grants the request the injunction for protection or restraining order will be granted on a temporary basis until the respondent can be served and appear at a hearing to address the accusations.
The time and date of the hearing will be written on the notice. The sheriff’s department will serve you with the injunction for protection or repeat violence restraining order in Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pasco County, or Pinellas County, Florida.
Injunction for Protection or Restraining Order Hearing
At the hearing for the restraining order in Floria, the judge will hear testimony from the petitioner and respondent. The judge can grant the restraining order, continue the restraining order hearing, or dismiss the restraining order.
The court has broad discretion to fashion a restraining order or domestic violence protective order which can include the following requirements:
- A provision that prevents you from contacting the alleged victim at the alleged victims’ home, place of employment, child care facility, school, or other location;
- Provides that you can not go within a certain number of feet of the alleged victim;
- A “no-contact” provision that prevents you from calling, e-mailing, texting, or using a third party to contact the alleged victim;
- A provision which requires you to pay the petitioner money on a monthly basis as temporary child support; and
- A provision which provides for the circumstances and times at which you can visit your child, called a temporary child visitation order.
The restraining order under Florida law will stay in effect until it expires, or is dismissed or modified by the court.
False Allegation of Violation of an Injunction for Protection
If an Order for Protection is granted and then violated, the petitioner can file an Affidavit of Violation of Injunction in the Clerk of Court’s office where the alleged violation occurred, including Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pasco County, or Pinellas County, FL.
A violation can occur if the petitioner alleges that the respondent violated the order by having direct or indirect contact with the petitioner.
The police will be notified and can obtain a warrant to arrest the respondent for violating the Order of Protection. In other cases, the respondent can be ordered to appear for a hearing to answer charges that the Florida Restraining Order was violated.
The State Attorney’s Office in Florida will review the Affidavit of Violation of Injunction or Restraining Order to determine whether to file a criminal charge for violation of an injunction, which is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by twelve (12) months in the county jail. An additional violation can occur if the petitioner alleges that the respondent intentionally touched or struck the petitioner.
If physical contact is alleged, then the State Attorney’s Office can file an additional criminal charge of “Domestic Violence Battery” pursuant to Florida Statute Section 784.03(1)(a), which is a misdemeanor punishable by 12 months in the county jail. Finally, a violation can occur if the respondent does not do something required by the Order for Protection, such as pay child support.
Allegations that you violated a Domestic Violence Order of Protection or Restraining Order are treated seriously by the courts in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Pasco County, Florida. If it has been alleged that you violated an injunction, contact an experienced Tampa domestic violence attorney.
Defenses Against False Allegations of Violence
We have all read newspaper headlines about horrific acts of domestic violence throughout Florida, including Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The domestic violence laws were intended to prevent these terrible acts. When a false allegation is made, however, the consequences can be equally devastating.
When an accusation is made, with or without any independent facts to support those allegations, the court will routinely grant the protective order on a temporary basis pending a hearing. Few of these requests are denied.
According to a 2005 article in the Illinois Bar Journal, restraining orders are unfortunately considered by many as one part of the “gamesmanship of divorce.” If a false allegation is made, evidence must be gathered to carefully refute that allegation. The fact that a permanent injunction is granted is a fact that can be used during a Divorce or Family Law case.
A temporary restraining order or domestic violence order of protection is a serious legal remedy with serious legal consequences. Under Florida Statute Section 741.30(1)(a), once the restraining order has been issued and served the subject of the order may not legally possess a firearm. Losing this important civil right demonstrates just how seriously the legislature treats these kinds of domestic violence issues.
Although men are most frequently the target of a domestic violence protective order, it is becoming more common for women to be the target of these accusations. Women are particularly vulnerable to false accusations made during domestic violence protective order hearings.
When the man is the target, it is all too common that a wife or girlfriend will want to end a relationship with the father of her children or resolve financial disputes. By making a false allegation of abuse or fear of domestic violence, the mother can accomplish many things, including having the father removed from the home and preventing the father from seeing the children. The temporary restraining order can be granted after the court reviews only the application made by the person who alleges the incident occurred.
The other side does not have an opportunity to respond until a full hearing can be held. Once you are served with a copy of the restraining order by the sheriff’s department, you must act quickly. At the hearing, the court may hear testimony from both sides, and consider other evidence that is presented. The court can decide to continue the restraining order or dismiss it.
Sometimes called the “poor man’s divorce court,” the temporary domestic violence requests and hearings can be prone to abuse. Only by hiring an experienced attorney can the respondent defend against false accusations often motivated by a desire to gain an advantage in a future family court hearing. Especially when children are involved, it is important to protect all of your rights so that the best outcome for you and your family can be achieved.
If the order has already been granted can it later be dismissed or modified?
Another common scenario occurs when a temporary or permanent restraining order is granted, and then the person who applied for the restraining order (the petitioner) wants to reconcile or get back together with the person subject to the order (the respondent).
The restraining order is in effect until it is dismissed by the court, regardless of what the petitioner tells you. If the petitioner desires to have the restraining order dismissed, the petitioner must appear in the Clerk’s office and complete certain paperwork. Even after the paperwork is completed, the order remains in full force and effect until it is dismissed by the court.
The court may set the case for a hearing before deciding whether to dismiss the order. You should never discuss with the petitioner your desire to have the restraining order modified or dismissed because doing so could result in a violation of the order or additional criminal charges.
You are not allowed to have anyone contact the petitioner, other than through your attorney under certain circumstances, for any purpose unless provided for in the order itself. If a modification of the order is appropriate, you can file a motion to modify the order.
Read more about defenses related to a lack of jurisdiction after being served with a petition for a domestic violence injunction. We represent clients in Plant City, FL. We also represent clients in Pinellas County, Pasco County, and Hernando County, FL.
Is the Petition for an Injunction for Protection a Public Record?
In 2017, the Florida legislature passed a law that created a limited public record exemption. Effective on July 1, 2017, the new law exempts from public record requirements a petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence, repeat violence, dating violence, sexual violence, stalking, or cyberstalking when:
- the petition is dismissed without a hearing;
- the petition is dismissed at an ex parte hearing due to failure to state a claim or lack of jurisdiction; or
- the petition is dismissed for any reason having to do with the sufficiency of the petition itself without an injunction being issued on or after July 1, 2017.
If such an injunction for protection was dismissed prior to July 1, 2017, the petition, and the contents thereof, are exempt only if the respondent requests the exemption.
The purpose behind the new legislation was to protect certain dismissed injunctions, and the contents of such injunctions, “because the existence of such a petition and of the unverified allegations contained in such a petition could be defamatory to an individual, cause unwarranted damage to the reputation of such individual, and that correction of the public record by the removal of such a petition is the sole means of protecting the reputation of an individual named in such a petition.”
Criminal Contempt for Violating an Injunction
If you were found in indirect criminal contempt for violating the terms of an injunction for protection, then contact an attorney at Sammis Law Firm.
If the contempt proceedings did not comply with Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.840 or if insufficient evidence supported the allegations, then we can help you at the hearing or appeal any order entered after the hearing.
Many cases for indirect criminal contempt for violating the terms of an injunction for protection begin with the filing in Circuit Court of a standard form called the “petition by affidavit for order to show cause for a violation of final judgment of injunction.”
If the information in the affidavit is sufficient, the court might decide to issue a show cause order that puts the person accused of indirect criminal contempt on notice of the time and date of the show cause hearing.
FAQ for Domestic Violence in Hillsborough County – Visit the Clerk of Circuit Court for Hillsborough County, FL, to learn more about Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Protection Against Violence cases heard in the courtrooms in Tampa and Plant City, FL. Find information on where to go to obtain an injunction, whether any fees are required, what happens after the petition is filed, procedures to follow after a violation of the injunction, and information on criminal domestic violence charges.
Sample Forms for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders in Hillsborough County, Florida – Visit the Clerk’s Office in Hillsborough County to find forms for domestic violence cases including injunctions brochures in English and Spanish. Also find the stalking, repeat violence, domestic violence or dating violence package which are the forms that must be submitted at the downtown Tampa Courthouse or the Plant City Courthouse to initiate the action. Also find the forms for the supplemental petition, motion to dismiss, motion to dissolve, motion to modify, motion to extend, motion for hearing, or motion for telephonic hearing. The sample motions also include the affidavit of violation of the injunction or restraining order for Hillsborough County Injunctions.
Finding a Lawyer for “Order for Protection” Hearings in Hillsborough County, FL
If you were served with a petition for a protective order against domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence or stalking, then contact an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm focus on representing respondents during these hearings.
We also represent clients for related criminal charges such as domestic violence battery or stalking. We are familiar with the requirements and procedures for the newest type of injunctions – exploitation injunctions and risk protection orders.
Contact an experienced domestic violence protective restraining order attorney to discuss your case today including:
- Pasco County Injunctions for Protection;
- Pinellas County Injunctions for Protection;
- Hernando County Injunctions for Protection; or
- Sarasota Injunctions for Protection.
We are experienced in representing clients charged with violent crimes and domestic violence.
Call (813) 250-0500 to discuss the facts of your case today.
This article was last updated by Jason D. Sammis on Friday, March 29, 2019.