domestic violence attorneys clearwater

Experienced Domestic Violence Attorneys

Relationships are complicated.  No matter how much you love someone, conflicts are inevitable.  When these conflicts elevate to a level of abuse it is time to consult a domestic violence lawyer.  In the state of Florida, special laws exist to protect victims of domestic violence and harassment.  Many legitimate abuse cases go unreported and end in tragedy.  On the other hand, some individuals are all too familiar with the laws that were enacted to protect true victims and abuse the system by posing as a victim in an effort to retaliate against a loved one.

If you find yourself in need of protection you should first call the police.  Your next call should be to an experienced domestic violence attorney.  Consult an attorney to make sure your case is presented to a judge in a clear and organized manner to ensure that a protective order is set in place.  If you are the victim of a protective order that is currently in place without any cause, you should contact an attorney to make sure you do not have any defenses.

What is an injunction?

An injunction, also known as a restraining order or protection order, is a civil court order that places restrictions on an individual, also known as a respondent.  The individual that files the paperwork to initiate an injunction is called the petitioner.  Restrictions may include the prevention of contact either directly or indirectly, restrictions on places the respondent may go and specific directions to the petitioner and respondent when children are involved.

Types of Injunctions:

There are 4 main types of injunctions.

  1. Domestic:  A domestic injunction may be issued in a case where violence or stalking has occurred.  Additionally, a domestic violence injunction may be issued when someone has a reasonable fear that he or she is in imminent danger.  These injunctions usually involve domestic relationships between a husband and wife or a couple who has a child in common.  Also included in this category are blood relatives, ex-spouses and individuals who have lived together as a family.
  2. Repeat violence:  Repeat violence injunctions are common amongst neighbors, co-workers and friends (or ex-friends).  To prevail in obtaining an injunction against someone under this category, two (2) separate acts of violence or harassment must be alleged on two (2) separate occasions.  Of those two occasions, one must have occurred within six months of the filing for a repeat violence protective order.
  3. Sexual violence: If you have filed a police report or the person who you are seeking the injunction against has been sentenced to prison, you may seek this type of injunction.  Additionally, the incident must involve a sexual battery, a lewd act on or in front of a child 15 years old or younger, luring or enticing a child, sexual performance by a child or a sexual act committed during a forcible felony.  The requirements for obtaining a sexual violence injunction are very specific under Florida law.  If you do not meet the criteria under this section you may consult an attorney to determine whether your situation justifies seeking an injunction under one of the other types of orders discussed herein.
  4. Dating violence: A dating violence injunction is typically sought where violence or stalking has occurred between two individuals that have been dating in the six months prior to the seeking of the injunction.  This type of injunction covers the typical dating relationship where one or more instances of violence occur.  The relationship must have been ongoing over a period of time, not just a casual encounter.

An injunction is in place, now what?

If you have a protective order against someone and that person has violated the order in any way you should call the police.  Violations of protection orders can, and usually do, lead to criminal charges.  If you are in fear call the police.

If you have an injunction in place against you and the person who filed the injunction has contacted you, you may want to consult an attorney.  Although you may not be doing anything wrong, the petitioner may seek to have you arrested based on any contact.  Although the petitioner is not in violation by calling you, you may have a basis for a re-hearing to remove the injunction.  The courts do not appreciate petitioners contacting those who they have sought to have a protective order against.  The very reason the protective order is in place is to protect someone who is legitimately afraid and in danger.

If you or someone you know is in need of an attorney to assist with a protection order (injunction), call the Law Offices of Powers Sellers & Finkelstein, PLC for a free consultation.  Our attorneys are experienced domestic violence, sexual violence and date violence attorneys who can assist whether you are seeking or defending an injunction in the Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Largo or Tampa Bay areas.

For more information, please contact Clearwater Domestic Violence Attorneys, Powers Sellers & Finkelstein, PLC. at 1-855-PSF-FIRM or (727) 531-2926 for a free consultation and case evaluation.

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FAQ’S

Will I go to jail?

Florida law requires that the suspect in a domestic violence crime go directly to jail.  In other words, if the police are called to the scene of a domestic violence dispute or complaint and has probable cause to make an arrest, someone is going to jail.

Will I get a bond?

If you are arrested for a domestic violence charge you will initially go to jail with no bond.  You will not be eligible for a bond until a judge has the opportunity to review the arrest affidavit in your case.  This will happen within 24 hours of your arrest.  It is important to hire an attorney for the first appearance hearing so that your rights are protected and the appropriate motion can be made for a reasonable bond.

What if I was defending myself?

Self-defense and defense of others are affirmative defenses that can be asserted in a domestic violence trial.  Additionally, depending on the specific facts of your case, your attorney may have a basis to file a “stand your ground” motion prior to trial.

Can I get a restraining order?

If you are a victim of a domestic violence you may request the courts to issue a restraining order or injunction for protection.  You will not have an attorney appointed to represent you for an injunction hearing.  You may represent yourself, or you may hire an attorney.

Will the state dismiss the case if the victim wants to drop the charge?

Unfortunately, the “alleged” victim in the case does not have the ability to drop a charge.  Although the victim’s position is taken into consideration, the state decides how to proceed on a case.  The victim does not make the final decision.  If a victim does not wish to prosecute, he or she should file the appropriate paperwork so that the state is on notice of his or her desires.  If you hire our firm, we will help facilitate communication between the State Attorney’s office and the victim so that everyone is on notice of the victim’s desires should he or she not wish to prosecute.

How do I get a no contact order dropped?

Only a judge can enter an order allowing contact between a victim and a defendant once the no contact order has been filed.  A motion for contact must be set in front of the Judge that is presiding over the defendant’s case.  This motion is usually requested by the victim.  At the hearing the judge will inquire as to whether the alleged victim is in fear, and based on the totality of the circumstances may grant the motion allowing contact.

Do I have to show up in court if I am the victim of a crime but I do not want to prosecute?

If you have been served with a subpoena, you must appear.  If you do not appear, the party who issued the subpoena may seek a court order to show cause that will require your appearance.

What is tampering with a witness?

Tampering with a witness is a criminal felony charge in Florida.  The Prosecutor takes these charges very seriously and the punishment can be severe.  Tampering with a witness is any attempt to threaten, induce or intimidate another person to withhold evidence, delay service of process, or withhold testimony.  Often times these charges are filed together with domestic battery cases because a defendant is accused of trying to prevent an alleged victim from calling the police.  Once a criminal charge has been filed, defendants should be careful as certain communications with a witness or victim can be construed as witness tampering.  This is yet another reason why it is so important to hire an experienced domestic violence defense attorney early in your case.

The domestic battery was an accident, can I get the charges dropped?

Often times, there are innocent explanations that can result in dismissals.  However, if you have been charged with a domestic battery, chances are your story or explanation is different from what the witnesses and/or the alleged victim has communicated to the officers and the prosecutor.  Call our office for a free consultation.  We will evaluate your case and explore all possible defenses such as: self-defense, defense of others, mutual combat, stand your ground and any alibi defense that you may have.

What is the domestic violence diversion program?

Many counties have various diversion programs for first time offenders.  For example, in Pinellas County, the State Attorney’s office runs the Domestic Violence Diversion Program.  The program is offered to first time offenders (for misdemeanor batteries).  The program usually requires twenty-six weeks of anger management classes/counseling commonly referred to as Batterer’s Intervention.  Additionally, the program involves a period of supervision and payment of fines.  Upon successful completion of the program and assuming there have been no additional arrests, the State Attorney will dismiss the charge.  For more information about this program and to determine whether you qualify for this option, contact our office.


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