Tampa Domestic Violence Attorneys
rechel & associates, p.a.
Domestic Violence in Tampa
Domestic violence is a highly sensitive topic, both for the person alleging the wrong against themselves, and the one who finds themselves at the receiving end of a petition for injunction.
Typically the Court will grant a request for a temporary injunction based upon the allegations sworn on the face of the petition. A temporary order will be entered that the parties keep away from each other until the Court is able to regroup everyone for an evidentiary hearing.
By statute, the normal waiting period on a temporary injunction is no more than 15 days. That means within two weeks of service of a petition for injunction, there should be an evidentiary hearing to determine whether or not the filing has merit.
Getting a Final Judgment on a Domestic Violence Issue
While public policy has made it easy to file for a domestic violence petition, it is not always a simple matter to get a temporary injunction transformed into “final judgment.” There are criterion that must be satisfied, including the immediacy of the threat alleged, the physical proximity of the parties to one another, and the history between them.
Some example of cases in this area includes the following:
Oettmeier v. Oettmeier, 960 So.2d 902 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2007): a party seeking a domestic violence injunction must present substantial competent evidence of “an objectively reasonable cause to believe that she was in imminent danger of becoming the victim of an act of domestic violence.” In Oettmeier, the complaint was made by the petitioner after respondent had vacated her property, as per her request that he do so. Petitioner alleged that respondent kept a loaded gun she did not know about in the house, that he left angry phone messages and notes at their home, that he spit in her face and pushed her when she tried to kiss him 9 months earlier, that he was a heavy drinker who became “depressed and angry” when he drank, that he beat on the doors and walls of the home and that he on one occasion smashed a trash can, that he threatened to “make her life miserable” and that he had a mental health condition and refused to take his medication. At hearing the petitioner also said that the respondent “asked her to commit suicide with him.” Id. at 902. None of these allegations were found to be “reasonable cause” to issue an injunction under the standard imposed by Gustafson v. Mauck, 743 So.2d 615,615 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999).
Young v. Smith, 901 So.2d 372 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2005): In order for a petitioner to be entitled to a domestic violence injunction they must establish either having 1) been a victim (i.e. physical injury) or 2) having reasonable cause to believe in imminent danger of becoming a victim. Frequent arguing, smashed windows, and general harassment do not suffice.
Kopelovich v. Kopelovich, 793 So.2d 31 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2001): holding that an ex parte motion must on its face meet the standard imposed by the statute. In this case the fears described (which included threat of harm to a dog, threat of harm in court and financial destruction, emotional abuse and alleged “brainwashing,” lying, and embarrassing behavior) were not behaviors that rose to the level of an ex parte injunction for domestic violence since the issues described “failed to establish ‘immediate or present danger’ or the threat of or actual domestic violence.” Id. at 33.
Rey v. Perez-Gurri, 662 So.2d 1328 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1995): holding that the respondent was a threat where it was found that the petitioner had “reasonable cause” to believe imminence of threat based upon demonstrated violent and threatening acts of respondent which included reference to a murder suicide plan, incidents of physical abuse (including hair pulling, slamming head, and locking petitioner in closet for hours), and three occasions where threats to kill were accompanied by the respondent actually pointing a gun at the petitioner.
Morrell v. Chadick, 965 So.2d 1277 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2007): in this case, the complaint filed and the evidence of what actually happened did not match up, leading to a reversal. Petitioner filed for sexual violence which Respondent motioned to be dismissed as the petition was facially insufficient. Upon testimony and evidence became clear that was not, in fact, a sexual violence situation; in addition, the “imminent threat” component was missing. Regardless, the trial court proceeded with an injunction. DCA reversed.
These cases are for illustrative purposes only. Never hesitate to file an injunction if you believe you are threatened, and know, too, that if you are the object of a temporary injunction you have the right to a hearing to determine the merit of the petition based upon testimony and evidence. If you need the help of an experienced attorney with a domestic violence issue, contact Rechel & Associates, P.A..