St. Petersburg Domestic Violence Lawyer
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 6,042 incidents of domestic violence were reported in 2019, including offenses ranging from threats/intimidation and stalking to aggravated assault, rape and murder. You don’t have to wait until you are assaulted or your children are abused to do something about domestic violence. When you are in danger, you can get immediate help in the form of an Injunction for Protection. The St. Petersburg domestic violence lawyers at Meros, Smith, Lazzara, Brennan & Brennan, P.A., are here to stand by you during this process, guide you and represent you so that you get a lasting injunction that truly protects you and meets your needs.
Domestic Violence Under Florida Law
Florida statutes define domestic violence 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.” “Family or household member” is also defined in the law and includes spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who reside together as a family or have done so in the past, and persons who have a child in common. Except for parents with a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing together or have done so in the past to be covered under the domestic violence law.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
A domestic violence restraining order is formally known in Florida as an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence. The law allows a person to get a temporary injunction without first giving any notice to the perpetrator. To get the injunction put in place for a longer duration, indefinitely or permanently, the perpetrator would first be notified of the opportunity to appear at a hearing and challenge the injunction.
At a hearing, the judge will consider a list of factors outlined in the law in deciding whether to issue an injunction and what the scope of the injunction should cover. The St. Petersburg domestic violence attorneys at Meros, Smith, Lazzara, Brennan & Brennan, P.A., help petitioners or respondents present evidence in court regarding these factors:
- The history between the petitioner and the respondent, including threats, harassment, stalking, and physical abuse.
- Whether the respondent has attempted to harm the petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with the petitioner.
- Whether the respondent has threatened to conceal, kidnap, or harm the petitioner’s child or children.
- Whether the respondent has intentionally injured or killed a family pet.
- Whether the respondent has used, or has threatened to use, against the petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives.
- Whether the respondent has physically restrained the petitioner from leaving the home or calling law enforcement.
- Whether the respondent has a criminal history involving violence or the threat of violence.
- The existence of a verifiable order of protection issued previously or from another jurisdiction.
- Whether the respondent has destroyed personal property, including, but not limited to, telephones or other communications equipment, clothing, or other items belonging to the petitioner.
- Whether the respondent engaged in any other behavior or conduct that leads the petitioner to have reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.
The injunction or restraining order can be tailored to meet the needs of the victim and his or her family. For instance, the injunction could order the perpetrator to immediately leave the residence and stay away from the victim and family member, whether at home, work or in public places. The perpetrator could also be required to complete a batterers’ intervention program.
Violation of an Injunction for Protection can result in civil or criminal contempt and consequences including fines and jail time.
Domestic Violence and Divorce
As experienced family law and divorce attorneys, our team at Meros, Smith, Lazzara, Brennan & Brennan, P.A., recognize how domestic violence and divorce sometimes intersect, and how important legal issues at this crossroads play out in the courts. For instance, a history of domestic violence – even just one single incident – can cause an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage sufficient to cause a party to file for divorce. Even in relationships with no previous domestic violence, the emotions brought to the surface during a divorce sometimes boil over into threats or actual violence. Finally, false accusations of domestic violations are sometimes thrown about during a divorce, either carelessly in the heat of the moment or as a deliberate attempt to gain an advantage in the divorce proceeding.
Domestic violence can and does have a significant impact on how judges rule in divorce cases. For one, “evidence of domestic violence” is a factor considered by the courts when deciding child custody and time-sharing. Likewise, providing “false information to the court regarding…domestic violence” is also a factor that can influence how a judge decides custody and visitation rights.
When a judge issues an Injunction for Protection, that order can include a temporary parenting plan and time-sharing schedule that limits or prohibits time-sharing and visitation or requires that they are supervised. The Injunction may also have ordered one parent to pay child support to the other, or granted exclusive use and possession of the marital home to one party. When it comes time for a family court judge to decide these same issues in a divorce, the way these matters are addressed in an existing Injunction for Protection can impact the court’s final orders in the marriage dissolution. Your attorney can play a pivotal role in advocating how allegations or a history of domestic violence should influence the outcome of issues in a divorce.
Effective Assistance With Domestic Violence Issues in and Around St. Petersburg
If you are dealing with issues of domestic violence in a divorce or at any time, the St. Petersburg domestic violence lawyers at Meros, Smith, Lazzara, Brennan & Brennan, P.A., offer reliable advice and assertive advocacy to protect your rights and safety. Call 727-822-4929 for immediate assistance.