Domestic Violence Injunction Requires Recent Conduct

Has a Petition for Protection against Domestic Violence been filed alleging you did something to warrant issuance of an injunction?  If the allegations don’t show the petitioner is the victim of recent domestic violence or is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, the Petition should be dismissed according to a recent decision by the First District Court of Appeal.

In that case, a mother challenged a domestic violence injunction entered against her at the behest of her daughter.  The daughter sought an injunction on behalf of her minor daughter alleging her mother had physically abused the daughter as a child, had attempted to interfere with paternity proceedings involving the minor granddaughter and had involved the Department of Children and Families in unfounded attempts to take the minor child away, and that the grandmother tries to control her adult daughter.  The trial court entered a permanent injunction.

The appellate court reversed the injunction on the ground the allegations were legally insufficient to support the entry of a domestic violence injunction. A domestic violence injunction may issue to protect a member of the movant’s family or household “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.” Florida Statute § 741.30(1)(a). “Domestic violence” is defined 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.” Florida Statute § 741.28(2). The appellate court concluded the injunction was improper because there was no evidence that the minor child was the victim of domestic violence or in imminent danger of becoming a victim.

In reversing the trial court, the appellate court noted the daughter’s  allegations of previous physical abuse concerned her mother’s alleged acts when the daughter was a child. Although the daughter alleged her mother’s abuse continued into the daughter’s early adulthood, it was nevertheless undisputed any abuse ended when the daughter moved out of the household two or three years before she filed for an injunction. The court also observed there was no evidence of any recent acts of domestic violence by the mother against her daughter and no evidence the mother had ever committed any act of domestic violence against her granddaughter.

The appellate court additionally noted the daughter’s allegations about her mother’s anger issues and physical abuse when the daughter was a child did not support entry of an injunction, both because they did not prove the minor child was a victim of the mother’s conduct or that she was in danger of becoming a victim, and because they occurred too long ago to constitute current evidence of an actionable threat. Again the court noted section 741.30(1)(a) expressly requires a showing either that the alleged victim is currently a victim of domestic violence, or that there is reasonable cause to believe the victim is in imminent danger of such violence. No evidence supported either of the alternative statutory requirements. The court further found the remoteness of the mother’s alleged prior abuse of her daughter also caused the injunction to be improper. Significantly, the court held incidents occurring a year or more previous to the filing of the petition for protection against domestic violence are insufficient to support entry of an injunction, absent allegations of current violence or imminent danger of such violence.

Also of note, the court found the daughter’s allegation her mother had made unfounded calls to DCF likewise did not satisfy the domestic violence injunction statute. In that regard, the court observed it had previously held “[u]nfounded reports to authorities or requests for judicial relief, even if repeated or for malicious purposes, do not support the entry of an injunction against domestic or other violence.” Olin v. Roberts, 42 So. 3d 841, 842 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010); accord Wills v. Jones, 213 So. 3d 982, 985 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016). And, the daughter’s vague complaint that her mother was too controlling was likewise insufficient to support the injunction.

If you’ve been served with a petition for protection against domestic violence and had a temporary injunction entered against you, you still may be able to avoid entry of a permanent injunction which can prevent you from possessing firearms and can disqualify you for some jobs.  In that case, it’s in your best interested to consult with a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer experienced with current Florida law about domestic violence injunctions.  Call me for a free consultation to discuss how I can help you have the best chance of avoiding imposition of a domestic violence injunction against you in Jacksonville, Orange Park, Fleming Island, Green Cove Springs, Middleburg, Keystone Heights, Fernandina Beach, Yulee, Callahan, Hilliard, Macclenny, or surrounding areas.


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