HOW DO I GET A RESTRAINING ORDER IN FLORIDA?
In Florida, there are five different categories of restraining orders. These restraining orders can be temporary or final. The person seeking a restraining order is called the Petitioner. The person against whom the restraining order is sought is called the Respondent. You can apply for a temporary restraining order by filing the required forms at the courthouse. Once your forms are filed, a judge reviews them and will either grant or deny a temporary restraining order. You will also be given a court date, within 15 days, for a hearing on whether a final restraining order will be granted.
To obtain a final restraining order, you must attend the hearing. Before the case may be heard, the court will need to verify that the sheriff's office has personally served the court papers on the respondent. At the hearing you will have to present evidence to the judge as to why you should be granted the restraining order. It is your responsibility to bring evidence with you to court. If the judge grants a final restraining order it can last for a set period of time or indefinitely.
The five kinds of restraining orders are
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
In Florida, domestic violence is defined as any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member. You can apply for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order if you have been the victim of domestic violence or have reason to believe you are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence.
To qualify for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, the person you are seeking the restraining order against must be your current or former spouse, related to you by blood or marriage, a current or former person with whom you lived as if a family, or someone who you have a child with.
If you do not qualify for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, you still may qualify for a Dating Violence, Repeat Violence, Stalking or Sexual Violence Restraining Order.
Dating Violence Restraining Orders
To qualify for a Dating Violence Restraining Order, you must have, or had in the past six months, a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the respondent. You are eligible for this kind of protection if the respondent has committed an act of dating violence against you already or you fear that you are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of dating violence.
Acts of dating violence include assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death.
Repeat Violence Restraining Orders
To qualify for a Repeat Violence Restraining Order the respondent must have committed at least two acts of violence against you. One of the acts must have occurred within the last 6 months.
Acts of violence include assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death.
Stalking Restraining Orders
You can get a restraining order for stalking against anyone, regardless of your relationship to the respondent. To qualify for this kind of restraining order, you must be the victim of stalking or believe you are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of stalking.
In Florida, stalking is defined as when someone willfully (intentionally), maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyber-stalks another person.
Harassment is when someone commits a series of acts over a period of time against you, which causes you to have substantial emotional distress (and the acts serve no legitimate purpose).
Cyber-stalking is when someone commits a series of acts that communicate (or cause to be communicated) words, images, or language through e-mail or other electronic communication that is directed at you, causing you substantial emotional distress (and the acts serve no legitimate purpose).
Sexual Violence Restraining Orders
To be eligible for a Sexual Violence Restraining Order, one of these must be true:
you reported the incident of violence to the police or another law enforcement agency and you are cooperating in any criminal proceeding that has occurred as a result; or
the person you are seeking protection against was already sentenced to prison for the sexual violence and either
completed his or her term of imprisonment; or
is going to be released within 90 days from when you filed the petition for the restraining order
Sexual violence includes sexual battery, a lewd or lascivious act upon or in the presence of a person younger than 16 years of age, luring or enticing a child, sexual performance by a child, and any other forcible felony where a sexual act is attempted or committed.
If you are filing for a restraining order on behalf of a minor child, you must be their parent or legal guardian.
For more information on restraining orders in Florida and how to file an application, visit WomensLaw.