Florida law recognizes that some domestic relationships can become so volatile that one person needs legal protection from the other. A protective order or temporary injunction orders the offending party to have no contact with the other, including contact in person, by phone, by text or email, or indirectly through another person. Some of the most common situations that cause a spouse or other close family member to file for this type of protection include physical abuse, threats, stalking, destruction of property, and harassing the victim through a third party.
When issuing a protective order or temporary injunction, Florida considers the relationship between the parties and the type of abuse taking place. The state then issues the order of protection based on the following:
- Dating violence: This petition covers people who never lived together and don’t have a child in common. They have been involved in a romantic relationship with each other within six months of the date of filing.
- Domestic violence: The victim and petitioner currently live together, have lived together in the past, and possibly have a child in common.
- Repeat violence: This category covers all other types of relationships, such as neighbors or casual acquaintances. It requires two acts of violence in the past six months, such as stalking or threats.
- Sexual violence: Filing an order for protection under this category means that the victim feels an act of sexual violence has taken place and fears for his or her safety. It’s not necessary for the victim to press criminal charges or for the prosecution to try the case successfully if he or she did press charges.
If you’re married to or separated from the perpetrator, you would choose to file a protection order based on the category of domestic violence.
What to Do When Your Spouse Violates the Order
Your actions in response to the violation of your spouse depends on the severity and his or her physical proximity. For example, if your spouse is on your front lawn shouting obscenities and threatening to kill you, don’t hesitate to call the police. If he or she continues to send you threatening texts and emails, save a copy of each of them and show them to your attorney as soon as possible. You will eventually want to show these to the police as well to prove that your spouse is violating an active restraining order.
If you fear for your safety or that of your children, leave the premises as quietly as you can and find a temporary place to stay. Just be certain that no one provides your spouse with the location. Once you’re assured of your safety, call your attorney at Whibbs, Stone & Barnett, Attorneys at Law, to learn what you need to do next.
Penalties for Violating a Protective Order or Temporary Injunction in Florida
Florida considers the violation of a protective order or temporary injunction as contempt of court. The state will prosecute this as a misdemeanor in most cases. However, conviction of a first-degree misdemeanor still comes with significant penalties. Your spouse could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The legal punishment increases significantly if he or she also receives a conviction for a separate crime such as domestic violence or stalking. The penalties vary depending on your spouse’s prior criminal record and severity of the accompanying crime, but he or she may receive a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Secure Your Safety and Future by Working with an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Going through a divorce is difficult enough in the most amicable of circumstances. It can feel overwhelming and terrifying when you have experienced domestic violence in your marriage and continue to fear for your safety.
We invite you to contact the Pensacola, Florida law firm of Whibbs, Stone & Barnett at 850-500-1111 to request a free consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys. We will explain how to apply for a protective order or temporary injunction and help to keep your spouse accountable for abiding by it. You and your children deserve a life free of fear.