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Injunctions for Protection in Pinellas County, FL

If you were served with an injunction for protection in Pinellas County involving false allegations of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or repeat violence, then you have come to the right place.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent the Respondent who is served with such a petition for a protective order (sometimes called an “injunction”) in St. Petersburg or Clearwater, when they wish to contest false or exaggerated accusations.

We pay attention to recent changes in the way these injunctions are handled. For example, pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2020-056 PI-CIR, the Sixth Judicial Circuit recently created the “Community Violence Court” in Pinellas County, FL, for dating, domestic, repeat, sexual violence, and stalking civil injunctions.

Under the new rules, if the petitioner does not have a related case in Unified Family Court (UFC), then the sought injunction will be heard by a judge in the Community Violence Injunction Division.

The judges currently assigned to the newly created Community Violence Division in Pinellas County include Judge Brian Gnage and Judge Doneene Loar. These judges are assigned to hear petitions involving allegations of dating violence, domestic violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, and stalking.

We help our clients fight these false allegations with the goal of getting the petition dismissed. The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm can help you fight false or exaggerated allegations at the return hearing. Contact us to find out how we can ask for a continuance at the return hearing so that we have enough time to be adequately prepared.

We can also move to take the deposition of the petitioner who is asking for the injunction. At the deposition, we can ask the petitioner questions about the allegations. We can also subpoena telephone records or other documents that show the accusations are false or exaggerated.

Attorneys for Injunctions for Protection in Pinellas County, FL

An injunction can impact your ability to find a job or get a promotion, secure housing, attend college, or possess a firearm. You should consider fighting the injunction if the allegations are false or exaggerated.

In some cases, the petition is being used as a tool to manipulate you or the Judicial System, to improperly gain access to the property, or to unfairly manipulate issues of child custody or spousal support. If the petitioner does not have a genuine and well-founded fear of continued violence or abuse, then the petition should be dismissed by the court.

When the allegations are true, you should be very careful to stop any risky behavior that might lead to additional accusations or your arrest. Either way, an attorney can help you find the best way to deal with the problem. Let us help you find a way to make sure your interests are protected at every stage of the case.

Call our experienced attorneys who fight injunctions for protection against domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence or stalking in Clearwater and St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, FL. Our attorneys fight domestic violence cases in Pinellas County.

If you would like to discuss your case with a lawyer experienced in helping respondents during hearings on a petition for an injunction for protection, then contact us today.

Call (813) 250-0500.


New Administrative Order for Community Violence Court in Pinellas

To comply with Florida law, the administrative order establishes the schedule for final hearings and the procedures for processing dating, domestic, repeat, sexual violence, and stalking injunctions for the year 2021.

The administrative order was designed to comply with the statutory requirements in sections 741.30, 784.046, and 784.0485, Florida Statutes. Those statutory provisions require that a final hearing is scheduled within 15 days of the issuance of an ex parte injunction.

During the COVID-19 public health crisis, the Clerk of the Circuit Court will continue to accept petitions for temporary and final judgment of injunction against dating, domestic, repeat, sexual violence, and stalking electronically or at the Pinellas County Justice Center (CJC), the St. Petersburg Judicial Building, and the Clearwater Courthouse.

The administrative order requires that petitions for temporary and final judgment of injunction against dating, domestic, repeat, sexual violence, and stalking shall continue to be assigned with the procedures for assignment of family law cases based upon the zip code of the petitioner or the petitioners attorney in accordance with Administrative Orders 2016-030 and 2020-023 or subsequent administrative orders.

For petitions with an underling unified family court case, the Clerk of Court will assign the assign petitions for temporary injunctions against dating, domestic, repeat, sexual violence, and stalking to a Unified Family Court (UFC) judge if the petitioner has a pending matter in Unified Family Court. The Clerk will also assign the petition to the UFC judge handling the pending matter.

In those cases, the return hearings will be placed on the assigned UFC judge’s domestic violence injunction calendar within 15 days of the issuance of an ex parte temporary injunction order or order setting hearing without granting temporary injunction.

For all other petitions, the Clerk of Court will electronically submit the petition for temporary injunctions against dating, domestic, repeat, sexual violence, and stalking to the community violence injunction division for review within the Odyssey case file.

The following Community Violence (CV) injunction documents are uploaded:

  • CCV Order Denying.PDF;
  • CCV Order Set for Hearing.PDF;
  • CCV Order Granting Temp Inj.Docx – (Word; for a Domestic Child, Domestic No Child, Dating, Repeat, Sexual and Stalking injunction).

Return hearings will be placed on the community violence injunction calendar within 15 days of the issuance of an ex parte temporary injunction order or order setting hearing without granting temporary injunction.

The administrative order for the newly created Community Violence Court requires the Clerk of Court to docket the cases as follows:

  • Dating, Sexual and Repeat violence cases shall be calendared on the Monday a.m. docket.
  • Stalking cases shall be calendared on the Tuesday a.m. and p.m. dockets.
  • Domestic violence cases with children shall be calendared on the Wednesday and Thursday a.m. dockets.
  • Domestic violence cases without children shall be calendared on the Wednesday and Thursday p.m. dockets.

The case will not be assigned to the Pinellas Community Violence Injunction Division if the petition seeking a violence injunction for protection has a related case in Unified Family Court, which deals with juvenile delinquency and dependency cases, in which parents are accused of providing a less-than-ideal environment for children. Instead, those petitions will be handled by the Unified Family Court judge dealing with the related case.

According to the administrative order, post-judgment motions in dating, domestic, repeat, sexual violence, and stalking cases are to be heard by the community violence injunction judge unless there is a pending UFC or family law case.



Types of Protective Orders in Pinellas County, FL

Florida law provides for five different types of protective orders that can be issued by the court including:

An Injunction for Protection (often called a “restraining order”), is a Civil Court Order that places restrictions on a person who has allegedly committed acts or made threats of violence against another person as defined in Florida statutes.


Locations Where Petitions for Protection Filed in Pinellas County

In Pinellas County, a Petition for Protection may be filed at one of the three (3) Pinellas County Clerk’s Office locations including:

ST. PETERSBURG BRANCH OFFICE
545 First Avenue North, Room 101
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

PINELLAS COUNTY JUSTICE CENTER
14250 49th Street North
Clearwater, FL 33762

CIVIL COURT RECORDS
315 Court Street, Room 170
Clearwater, FL 33756

The petition must be filed on Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., excluding holidays. For petitions filed after 4:00 p.m., the petitioner is directed to contact The HAVEN in Clearwater at (727) 442-4128 or C.A.S.A. (Community Action Stops Abuse) in St. Petersburg at (727) 895-4912.


Statistics on Injunctions for Protection in Pinellas County, FL

According to the 2017 Performance Review Report from the Sixth Judicial Circuit, case managers in the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pasco County, FL, maximize the efficient use of court resources. Case managers play a role in protective order injunction hearings.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RETURN HEARING STATISTICS FOR PINELLAS ONLY.

  • TOTAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES – 2,247
  • FINAL JUDGMENT OF INJUNCTION GRANTED – 848
  • REFERRALS TO GENERAL MAGISTRATE – 189
  • FIRST COMPLIANCE HEARINGS SET – 440

TOTAL DATING VIOLENCE INJUNCTIONS (PINELLAS ONLY) – 212

  • FINAL JUDGMENT OF INJUNCTION GRANTED – 75
  • REFERRALS TO GENERAL MAGISTRATE – 0
  • FIRST COMPLIANCE HEARINGS SET – 34

TOTAL SEXUAL VIOLENCE INJUNCTIONS (PINELLAS ONLY) – 57

  • FINAL JUDGMENT OF INJUNCTION GRANTED – 34
  • REFERRALS TO GENERAL MAGISTRATE – 0
  • FIRST COMPLIANCE HEARINGS SET – 12

TOTAL REPEAT VIOLENCE INJUNCTIONS (PINELLAS ONLY) – 203

  • FINAL JUDGMENT OF INJUNCTION GRANTED – 70
  • REFERRALS TO GENERAL MAGISTRATE – 0
  • FIRST COMPLIANCE HEARINGS SET – 39

TOTAL STALKING INJUNCTIONS (PINELLAS ONLY) – 1,027

  • FINAL JUDGMENT OF INJUNCTION GRANTED – 348
  • REFERRALS TO GENERAL MAGISTRATE – 0
  • FIRST COMPLIANCE HEARINGS SET – 136

How are Injunctions for Protection Served in Pinellas County, FL?

In the Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Pinellas County, Administrative Order No. 2015-026 PI-CIR, explains the rules for municipal police agencies and sheriffs or law enforcement agencies outside of Pinellas County serving injunctions against dating violence, domestic violence, repeat violence, sexual violence and stalking.

The order was signed on May 22, 2015, by J. Thomas McGrady, Chief Judge in the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Pinellas County.

The Sheriff of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction to serve process in all dating, domestic, repeat, and sexual violence and stalking injunction cases. Sections 741.30(8)(a)(1), 784.046(8)(a)(1), and 784.0485(8)(a)(1), Florida Statutes, provide that the Chief Judge, in consultation with the Sheriff, may authorize a law enforcement agency within the Chief Judge’s jurisdiction to effectuate this type of service.

In 1996, the Chief Judge, after consultation with the Pinellas County Sheriff, authorized certain municipal police departments to effect service of process during a call for municipal police services when the petitioner had a certified copy of the injunction.

Administrative Order 2000-37 authorized all municipal police departments located in Pinellas County to serve a domestic violence injunction or a repeat violence injunction when provided a certified copy of the injunction by the petitioner upon arriving at a call for police service.

Administrative Order 2012-055 authorized all municipal police departments located in Pinellas County to serve injunctions against dating, domestic, repeat, and sexual violence and stalking when provided a certified copy of the injunction by the petitioner upon arriving at a call for police service.

A number of respondents live or are found outside of Pinellas County and are served by the sheriff or law enforcement agency of that locality.

For this reason, the court in Pinellas County found it necessary to update the Return of Service procedures to ensure that the appropriate sheriff or law enforcement agency receives all the required paperwork. In accordance with Article V, § 2, Florida Constitution, Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.215, and § 43.26 Florida Statutes.

Under the order, municipal police departments located in Pinellas County and their individual sworn officers are hereby authorized to effect service of process in lieu of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department when provided a certified copy of an injunction against dating, domestic, repeat, or sexual violence, or stalking by the petitioner upon arriving at a call for police service.

When serving an injunction against dating, domestic, repeat, or sexual violence, or stalking, law enforcement officers must serve it in accordance with Attachment A – Notice To All Local Law Enforcement Agencies (Notice). The Pinellas Clerk of the Circuit Court (Clerk) must attach the Notice to a certified copy of the injunction to be served on the respondent.

The Clerk must also provide Attachment B – Return of Service/Certificate of Non-service, when forwarding the injunction for service to law enforcement, including to sheriffs of other Florida counties or to another law enforcement agency, where the respondent resides or can be found.

After service of process has been made, the law enforcement officer who served the injunction must immediately file the Return of Service/Certificate of Non-service, Attachment B, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 48, Florida Statutes.

If attempts at service of process are unsuccessful, the law enforcement officer attempting service must immediately file the attached Return of Service/Certificate of Non-service with the relevant facts that indicate the reason for non-service. Service of process authorized by this Administrative Order will give the Court personal jurisdiction over the respondent.

Nothing in the administrative order changes the existing policy that gives primary responsibility for service of dating, domestic, repeat, and sexual violence, and stalking injunctions in Pinellas County to the Pinellas County Sheriff.

However, if a municipal police agency receives a call for the initial service of an injunction, and the agency believes an immediate harm might occur if the injunction is not served immediately, the agency may elect to serve the injunction. The agency must immediately notify the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office upon serving injunctions under these circumstances.

A copy of the order was provided to all Pinellas Judges, The Honorable Bernie McCabe, State Attorney The Honorable Bob Dillinger, Public Defender The Honorable Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Pinellas County The Honorable Bob Gualtieri, Sheriff, Pinellas County Gay Inskeep, Trial Courts Administrator Ngozi Acholonu, Assistant Regional Counsel Myriam Irizarry, Chief Deputy Director, Pinellas County Clerk’s Office The Haven, Domestic Violence Center Community Action Stops Abuse, (CASA) Bar Associations, Pasco and Pinellas Counties Law Libraries, Pasco and Pinellas Counties

ATTACHMENT A

NOTICE TO ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

The injunction should be read aloud to the respondent. Injunctions must be personally served on the respondent. They cannot be served on any other person. Any questions on service should be referred to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Fugitive Section (727-582-6192).

Once service has been made pursuant to Section 741.30(8)(a)(1), 784.046(8)(a)(1), or 784.0485(8)(a)(1), Florida Statutes, this service information form must be completed and faxed to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Fugitive Section (727-582-6142).

The agency serving the injunction must complete a Return of Service form and forward it to the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office, 315 Court Street, Clearwater, FL 33756.

SERVICE INFORMATION

Served on: ___________________________________________________________________

(Name of Respondent)

Race: ___________________________

Sex: ______

Date of birth: ______________________

Date served: ________________________________

Time served: ______________________

Address where served: ________________________________________________________

Served by: ___________________________________________________________________

(Name of Officer) Agency: ______________________________________________________

ATTACHMENT B

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA

Case No.: ________________________________

PETITIONER,

vs.

_____________________________________,

RESPONDENT.

UCN: _________________________________

Return of Service

SERVE TO: ________________________________

Type of Process: (Mark ALL that Apply)

RESPONDENT

Temporary Injunction (type) _______________________________

Final Injunction (type) ____________________________________

Firearms Affidavit

(Respondent’s Sworn Statement of Possession of Address: __________________________________ Firearms/Ammunition)

Order to Attend Batterer’s Intervention Program Order to Appear at Mandatory Compliance Hearing ___________________________________

Other ________________________________________________

I received this process on _____________ _____, 20____, and served it on _____________________________________________ Month Day Year

Name of Respondent / Defendant at ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address City, State, Zip in ______________________________ County at ________ a.m. / p.m., on ________________ _____, 20_____, Time Month Day Year by delivering to the above-named person a certified copy of the Order entered in the above-styled cause with the date and hour of service endorsed thereon by me. Respondent refuses to surrender his / her firearms and ammunition. Respondent stated he / she has no firearms and ammunition. Respondent surrendered his / her firearms and ammunition. ________________________________________________________

Respondent was identified by his / her _________________________________________________________________________

Additional Comments: ______________________________________________________________________________________

Respondent stated that his / her current residential address is __________________________________________________________ Address City, State, Zip

NON-SERVICE: For the reason that after diligent search and inquiry, ________________________________________________

Name of Respondent / Defendant could not be found or __________________________________________________________________________________________

Reason _________________

_____, 20______. Month Day Year

Served by: Law Enforcement Agency _________________________

City or County of ________________________________

Signature of Officer Serving Process Badge / ID # State of _______________________________________

Print Name


Additional Resources

Injunctions for Restraining Orders in Pinellas County – Visit the website of the Clerk of Circuit Court in Pinellas County to find helpful information about injunctions for protection in Pinellas County. Find out more about the five different types of injunctions, contempt of an injunction, and ways to modify an injunction. Find an informative video on how to file an injunction for protection and develop a safety plan.

Domestic Violence Injunctions in the Sixth Judicial Circuit – Visit the website of the Sixth Judicial Circuit for Pinellas and Pasco County to learn more about legal protections from domestic violence. Find the definition for the phrase “petition for domestic violence injunction.” Watch a video about the effects of exposure to domestic violence on babies and children. This website explains how to file an injunction in Clearwater or St. Petersburg, FL, as well as the sample forms that need to be used. From the clerk’s office website, you can look up information about restraining orders issued in Florida as well as other types of court records issued at the courthouse.


Finding a Lawyer for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in Pinellas County, FL

Call today for a consultation to find out more about how to fight these cases, including fighting an injunction for protection on jurisdictional grounds. These injunctions for protection have serious consequences that can last a lifetime.

Whether you were accused of domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence or stalking, we can help. We also represent clients charged with violation of an injunction for protection through the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas County, FL, including in St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

We also represent clients accused of violating an injunction for protection when the petitioner accuses you of violating the “no contract” provisions of the temporary or final judgment of injunction. These violations affidavits are sent to the clerk’s office domestic violence desk.

The petitioner’s affidavit alleging the violation will be reviewed by a judge and may either be set for a civil court hearing or referred to the state attorney’s office to be pursued as a criminal violation of the injunction.

Our attorneys represent clients in the following types of related matters:

      • enforcement actions when the final judgment of injunction for domestic violence awards child support, custody or visitation and the petitioner accuses you are not complying with those provisions and contacts the clerk of court, domestic violence desk, regarding a motion to enforce;
      • motions for modification of an injunction when either party feels there is some portion of the restraining order that needs to be modified because of a change in circumstances; or
      • hearings on a “Requests for Dismissal” after either side files a motion to dismiss the injunction.

Let us put our experience to work for you.

Call (813) 250-0500.


This article was last updated on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

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