In a piece published this week by the Orlando Sentinel, domestic violence victim advocates defend the state’s system of injunctions, stating that they are effective when the victim is actually committed to seeing them used.
In Florida if someone is in fear of harm by a partner or former partner, for instance, they can petition a judge for an injunction. This is basically another word for a protective order. The victim fills out a form explaining what it is that led them to this fear and then a judge determines if there is reason enough to issue the injunction.
The problem, however, is that many victims are afraid or simply don’t take the time to provide details. While saying you are in fear is one thing, giving specific details about past incidents of violence or threats are far more convincing.
If the judge believes the victim has good reason to be afraid and that an injunction is appropriate, it can be entered immediately. However, if there aren’t enough details provided, the judge can call for a hearing while more evidence is gathered.
These injunctions are used to deter would-be domestic violence offenders from taking criminal action. Although they are said to be highly effective, they are particularly vulnerable to violation when the person accused of threatening or violence doesn’t believe the injunction is fair.
When an injunction is in place, you must abide by the terms of it whether or not it is fair. Even if you believe the alleged victim lied in order to get the injunction, you cannot violate it.
In the state of Florida, if you violate such an injunction you will face criminal charges. Such a violation is considered a 1st degree misdemeanor and carries a potential 1 year jail sentence. This doesn’t include any other potential criminal acts committed when violating the injunction.
The crime of violating a protective injunction doesn’t have to involve additional threats of harm or attempts at assault. If you merely come too close to the other party, you could immediately be arrested and taken to jail.
While these laws don’t seem fair at all to the person they restrict, the system is designed to protect potential victims of domestic violence and stalking. This means it can seem difficult to get a fair shake when you are the one accused of the crime.