Is it a Crime to Violate a Protective Order in Florida?
In Florida, there are five types of protective orders: sexual violence, dating violence, repeat violence, stalking, and domestic violence. Protective orders, or restraining orders, are civil orders from the court that prohibit a respondent from performing actions that harm or threaten the petitioner. Therefore, failing to comply with a protective order may result in criminal implications.
If you have a protective order against you, you must follow the terms of the order to avoid facing criminal charges. Any contact with the alleged victim or violation of conditions outlined in the order prior to a legal proceeding may affect the results of the hearing. Violation of a protective order could potentially result in additional charges. If you’ve been charged with violating a protective order, an experienced injunction lawyer can help challenge the charges against you.
What Constitutes as Violating a Protective Order in Florida?
Under Florida law, countless actions may constitute a violation of protective orders. To avoid being charged for violating a protective order, it’s essential to follow the exact terms set by the court. Depending on the order against you, the following may be considered a violation of the order:
- Failing to vacate or leave the residence you share with the petitioner
- Contacting the petitioner through different mediums such as phone, text, or social media
- Sending any physical mail to the petitioner
- Threatening or executing an act of violence against the petitioner
- Intending to or being within five hundred feet of the petitioner’s job, school, home, or other locations outlined in the order
- Intentionally coming within one hundred feet of the petitioner’s vehicle
- Destroying or damaging the petitioner’s property
- Refusing to surrender any weapons, such as firearms and ammunition
Additionally, the court may order you to participate in a batterer’s intervention program. Failing to complete the required program may be used by the prosecution as evidence that you’ve violated the protective order.
What Are the Possible Penalties for Violating a Protective Order?
In Florida, violations of any protective order, whether temporary or permanent, are a first-degree misdemeanor offense. First-degree misdemeanors are taken seriously in Florida. A conviction may lead to the following penalties:
- Up to one year in county jail
- Up to one year of probation
- Fines up to $1,000
First-degree misdemeanors remain on your record for life. If you are found repeatedly violating a protective order, the state can charge the violation as a felony. Rather than living with a criminal record that follows you, stick to the terms of the order.
Possible Defenses to Violating a Protective Order
When the court examines a violation of a protective order, they consider whether the accusations of violation are true and if they were done willfully. A petitioner may claim you came to their residency multiple times, but without evidence, it’s just an accusation. Possible defenses to a protective order violation may include:
- Lack of protective order notice
- Lack of intent to violate the protective order
- No intentional contact
- Misunderstanding of protective order terms
- Conflicting protective orders
If there is no defense available, it is possible to attempt and negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution to reduce charges. The best way to build your defense is by working with a knowledgeable injunction defense attorney. An attorney will have a deep understanding of Florida injunction law and how to handle your case to achieve the best possible outcome.
Consult with Our Experienced Florida Injunction Attorney at Umansky Law Firm
The criminal defense lawyer you hire to fight against criminal accusations on your behalf can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Your injunction defense attorney needs legal experience and knowledge of Florida injunction law to understand how to best build your defense. At The Umansky Law Firm, our defense lawyers have the resources and experience to provide our clients with the legal counsel they need.
No matter what charges you face, our Florida criminal defense attorneys will navigate you through the entire legal process. We are dedicated to representing everyday people to help them protect themselves. To schedule a consultation, call (407) 228-3838 or fill out this form.