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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT: The Crossroads Between Criminal and Family Law

The imposition of a Domestic Violence Injunction is a Civil Court proceeding. However, oftentimes it intersects with criminal charges and its consequences affect citizens’ Constitutional Rights.

Florida Statute 741.30 (1) creates a cause of action for an injunction for protection against domestic violence. Any person who is a family or household member, who is either the victim of domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28 or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence, has standing in the circuit court to file a sworn petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Injunctions are often handled by Family Law or Civil Court Judges. Final Hearings are held quickly (commonly within two weeks of the petition). The hearings are evidentiary- meaning that the rules of evidence apply. Hearsay, relevance and other objections and rules apply. The hearing is conducted like a trial. Judges normally allow opening statements, direct examination and cross examination of witnesses, legal motions and closing arguments.

The outcome of a domestic violence injunctions affects many aspects of the accused’s life, including, but not limited to:

Removal from one’s own home

Restrictions on travel

Child custody and contact

Employment

The right to bear arms/own/carry firearms

Future criminal charges for alleged violations of the injunction

Deportation of non-US citizens

Societal stigma

Financial expenses of child support and alimony

The limitations imposed by a domestic violence injunction may be permanent and therefore follow a citizen long after the domestic relationship is over.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INJUNCTIONS AND CRIMINAL LAW

Criminal Prosecutors may use evidence and statements made by the accused at a domestic violence hearing in criminal prosecutions. It is crucial for a citizen to balance the desire to testify against their Constitutional Right against self-incrimination.

Criminal Domestic Battery charges can stem from a push, slap, grab, punch or other alleged touching that was not consensual. Domestic Battery allegations are taken seriously by law enforcement and prosecutors. Many arrests and prosecutions are based solely upon the statement of an alleged victim. A second battery charge in the State of Florida may be charged as a Felony. No injury is needed.

Domestic Battery crimes carry stiffer sanctions than non-domestic battery cases.

Charges of domestic battery may not be sealed; therefore, even if there is no conviction, the allegation may follow a person permanently.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INJUNCTIONS AND FAMILY LAW

The entry of a domestic violence injunction has ramifications in divorce and paternity cases.

The information and testimony from the domestic violence hearing may be viewed by the Court and used by the opposing party in litigation.

Alimony and child support may be ordered at domestic violence hearings and may affect the Court’s ruling on these issues in family law cases.

Time sharing with children may also be addressed at domestic violence hearings and those decisions by the Court may be carried over into the family law case.

The entry of a domestic violence injunction may preclude any contact between a parent and his/her children.

Use and possession of the marital home may be addressed at domestic violence hearings. Many people have found themselves removed from the home they purchased and pay for by the entry of a domestic violence injunction.

WHAT IF I AM FACING A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PETITION?

Should you find yourself at the crossroads between the Criminal Court System and the Family Court System by virtue of domestic violence injunction:

GET HELP;

GET AN ATTORNEY;

FIND OUT WHAT YOUR RIGHTS ARE;

FIND OUT WHAT THE EFFECTS THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INJUNCTION MAY HAVE ON YOUR LIFE;

FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF, YOUR RIGHTS AND YOUR FAMILY.

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