New FL Law Increases the Penalties for Repeated Restraining Order Violations

In September 2015, Senator Joseph Abruzzo (D) proposed a new bill that would stiffen the penalties for repeated restraining order violations. The legislation, SB 380, elevates the crime of a violation of restraining order, or injunction for protection, to a felony if the offender has been convicted two or more times previously for the same offense. Governor Rick Scott approved the bill in April 2016, and it will take effect October 1, 2016.

If you are facing charges for violating protective orders — especially if this is not your first time — call one of our defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel as soon as possible. Let us show you what you are up against and how we can help. Call 727-828-3900 or fill out this contact form and we will get right back to you.

What does Florida’s new law for repeated restraining order violations entail?

The bill amends three sections of Florida Statues: § 741.31(4), § 784.047, and § 784.0487(4). Specifically, it enhances criminal penalties for someone who commits a third or subsequent violation of an injunction for protection order against the following crimes:

  • Domestic violence
  • Repeat violence
  • Sexual violence
  • Dating violence
  • Stalking
  • Cyberstalking

The bill does not affect first- and second-time offenders.

What penalties do repeat offenders now face?

Until the new law takes effect in October, a third or subsequent charge of violation of an injunction for protection will fall under the category of the first-degree misdemeanor. The punishment for this level of offense is up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

After SB 380 takes effect, the offense will be a third-degree felony, which greatly increases potential penalties. If a Florida court finds you guilty of a repeat violation of a protective order on or after October 1, you face up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.

Does it still count as a strike against me even if I did not serve time in prior cases?

If you have been arrested on previous occasions for violating a protective order, whether or not you served time has no bearing. The new law reads: “A person who has two or more prior convictions for violation of an injunction or foreign protection order, and who subsequently commits a violation of any injunction or foreign protection order against the same victim, commits a felony of the third degree.”

It then goes on to say: “The term ‘conviction’ means a determination of guilt which is the result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or a plea of nolo contendere is entered.”

How do I defend against a repeated violation of injunction charge?

Obviously, given the severity of the potential penalties, you will need a good plan of action to defend your case. There are several viable defenses for charges of this nature; much depends on the specifics of your case. Call our office and arrange for a meeting with our restraining order attorneys. We can speak to you about your case and determine the best way to approach it.

Contact Goldman Wetzel today at 727-828-3900.