Restraining orders, also referred to as injunctions, are court orders of protection that prohibit a party from having contact with the victim/petitioner. A restraining order hearing in St. Petersburg is an opportunity for a judge to hear both sides of the story (the petitioner’s and the respondent’s) and make a determination about whether to grant the order.
What are the grounds for seeking a restraining order?
The state of Florida recognizes four kinds of restraining orders.
- Domestic Violence Injunctions apply when both parties have lived together or have a child in common.
- Dating Violence Injunctions apply when the parties are not married, do not live together, have no children in common, but were involved in a romantic relationship within six months of filing.
- Sexual Violence Injunctions apply when the petitioner claims sexual abuse by the respondent.
- Stalking Injunctions apply to physical stalking as well as cyberstalking. Any affected party may seek the injunction.
- Repeat Violence Injunctions apply for all other types of relationships and various other scenarios, such as violence amongst acquaintances.
Goldman Wetzel can explain if your situation meets Florida’s guidelines for a specific type of injunction.
When will the restraining order hearing take place?
When someone files a petition for a restraining order, a judge will review the petition that day. If the allegations within the petition meet certain requirements as per Florida law, the judge will issue a temporary restraining order that will be valid for 15 days. The order does not become active until a law enforcement officer physically serves the order on the respondent.
At the time of filing, the Clerk of Court will schedule a hearing date for the judge to make a determination. The hearing date will be within 15 days of the date of filing the petition, and will be held at the courthouse. Both parties can use the 15-day period prior to the hearing to collect evidence to support their case.
What happens at the restraining order hearing?
Each party may choose if they want a lawyer to represent them at the restraining order hearing. Each will have an opportunity to present verifiable evidence to the court: the petitioner will present evidence to prove that a restraining order is justifiable, and the respondent will seek to show the judge why it is not.
The types of evidence vary depending upon the situation, as well as on the type of injunction. Examples of evidence include:
- Phone and text records
- Letters in the mail
- Audio recordings of messages and phone calls
- Proof of unwanted gifts or advancements
- Witness testimonies
At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will make a decision to either grant the petition or deny it. If granted, the judge will determine the duration of the order. After the judge issues the restraining order, either party can file a motion to remove the order at any time.
Do I need an attorney to represent me at the restraining order hearing?
We highly recommend you seek legal advice and representation whether you are the petitioner or the respondent of a petition for a restraining order. An attorney can walk you through the process, help you gather and certify evidence, and ensure you are well-prepared for the hearing.
For an attorney that assists both petitioners and respondents with all types of injunctions in St. Petersburg, contact Goldman Wetzel for a free consultation at 727-828-3900.