What to Expect at a Domestic Violence Injunction Hearing
Incidents of domestic violence occur in this country every day, and getting out of these dangerous situations may feel overwhelming and practically impossible. Resources do exist that provide support and assistance to domestic violence victims, so they have options to leave their home situation without ending up on the streets. The law also seeks to protect these individuals from further harm through the enforcement of domestic violence injunctions that are primarily intended to block all contact between the victim and the abuser. Society tends to associate this behavior with those with little income and/or education, but the recent arrest of the wife of pro-golfer Lucas Glover for attacking Glover and his mother shows that violence does not discriminate. Obtaining an injunction does require the victim to appear before a judge and explain through testimony and the presentation of evidence the history of violence between the couple. This process can seem daunting, but knowing what to expect at the injunction hearing should help those seeking protection to at least avoid being taken by surprise from court procedure.
The Initial Process
Florida law says that a domestic violence injunction is only available to family or household members; however, this qualification is a little misleading. Anyone alleging violence in the following relationships is eligible to request a domestic violence injunction:
- current or former spouses;
- individuals related by blood or marriage;
- individuals living in one household as a family; or
- individuals that share a child.
Practically speaking, outside of individuals that share children, someone seeking this protection must have lived with the aggressor in the past or currently resides with him/her. The initial temporary injunction is more easily obtained, and involves filling out forms at the local circuit court that explain the nature of the relationship between the parties and past incidents of domestic violence or a reasonable belief of being in imminent danger of becoming a victim. These initial injunctions are temporary and usually limited in scope because they are issued “ex parte” or without the knowledge or opportunity to respond from the other side. These orders are usually valid for a few weeks, or just enough time to schedule a full hearing where both parties will be present to give their side of the story, and allow the judge to determine if enough evidence of harm exists to justify making the injunction permanent.
Full Injunction Hearing
Domestic violence injunction hearings are similar to any court proceeding, with a judge overseeing the process and the parties appearing with their attorneys. The purpose of the injunction hearing is twofold – to give the accused abuser an opportunity to have his/her case heard and to decide if the injunction should become permanent. There will be no jury, and the judge alone will look at the facts of a case and the applicable law to determine the outcome. Specifically, the judge will review testimony and evidence submitted by both parties, which typically comes in the form of:
- their own testimony
- witness testimony;
- photographs and other documentary evidence; and
- anything else deemed relevant and admissible by the court.
The person asking for the injunction has the burden to prove it is necessary, and will present his/her case first. The respondent then has the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses and then present his/her own case. The judge may allow the parties to present closing arguments, during which each side has one last chance to convince the court the injunction should stay in place or be lifted. Fortunately, the same judge hears both the temporary and permanent junction petitions, so the court will be familiar with the facts of a case, and usually issues a ruling from the bench, including the conditions of the permanent injunction (often more extensive than the temporary version) if granted.
Contact an Orlando Family Lawyer
If you need protection from a spouse or partner who has a history of domestic violence incidents, working with an experienced family law attorney can mean the difference between getting the protection you need and having to go it alone. Alternatively, if you need protection from a spouse or partner who is accusing you of false domestic violence incidents, working with an experienced family law attorney is imperative. The attorneys at the Donna Hung Law Group understand the enormity of the issues at stake and any fear, and will fight to get you the peace of mind you deserve. Contact the Orlando law firm at (407) 999-0099 for a consultation.