How to get a Court Order to Protect you from Harassment

A restraining order is a legal document which commands someone to cease harming or bothering another. In Florida, one can qualify for an injunction of protection against four kinds of violence: dating, repeat, sexual, and domestic.

Domestic violence is when the petitioner and the alleged abuser have lived together at some point or have had at least one child together. Dating violence is when the petitioner and alleged abuser have never lived together, have had no children together, and were involved in a romantic relationship within six months of filing the injunction. Sexual violence is for a victim of sexual abuse. The petitioner is not required to file charges; if charges are filed, there is no guarantee that the prosecution will be successful. Lastly, repeat violence involves any other relationship, such as with an acquaintance or neighbor. The abuser must have committed at least two acts of violence against the petitioner and at least one of them must have occurred within six months of filing the injunction.

After choosing the appropriate type of restraining order, the petitioner must prepare the petition and file it in court. The petition will mostly ask for personal information about the petitioner and the alleged abuser, such as place of employment and home address. But the most important aspect of the petition is the allegation paragraph because whether or not the petitioner receives the order is dependent upon it. In this section, the petitioner must describe in detail the allegations they are making against the alleged abuser, the relationship with this person, and the approximate dates of the acts supposedly committed. After the petition is filed, it will be reviewed by a judge, usually on the same day as the filing, and if the allegations are consistent with Florida law, the judge will issue a temporary, fifteen-day restraining order.

The final court hearing will be scheduled at or near the end of the expiration of the temporary restraining order, which will be valid upon the alleged abuser once the police have served it to him or her. If the alleged abuser cannot be found during this interval, the temporary order will be extended by another fifteen days. However, if the alleged abuser fails to appear in court, the petitioner will be allowed to present his or her evidence. During this time, the petitioner should be gathering any witnesses, phone records, and any other evidence that he or she believes will prove their case at the hearing. After the hearing, the judge will rule on the evidence. The judge can deny the petition. The judge can also issue a lifetime restraining order or an order that lasts for a certain period of time. If the restraining order is granted, the petitioner or alleged abuser can file a motion to have the order removed at any time in the future.  

Restraining orders can be issued in either civil or criminal court. In a civil court, the petitioner can request such an order against someone on the charge that someone is abusing him or her. Though this order does not require the court to send the alleged abuser to jail, this person can be arrested if he or she violates the order. In most circumstances, the petitioner has the right to withdraw the order if he or she chooses. The kinds of restraining orders that are issued in civil court are called injunctions for protection.

The criminal court handles all cases that involve violations of criminal law such as theft, murder, assault, etc. In criminal court, the petitioner can press charges against the alleged abuser. The prosecutor, also known as the district attorney, decides whether or not the case will go to trial since the state, not the petitioner, is bringing the charges against the alleged abuser. If the petitioner decides to drop the charges, it is possible that the prosecutor will choose not to continue the case, but the prosecutor also has the option of continuing the case against the petitioner’s wishes. The prosecutor can even issue a subpoena, a court order that will force the petitioner to testify against the alleged abuser at the trial.

“Restraining Order.”

Jimenez, Antonio Gonzalo. “How to Get a Restraining
Order in Florida.” Avvo.