Violation of Injunction
Injunctions for Protection/Restraining Orders carry no direct criminal consequences. However, you may face criminal prosecution if you violate the terms and conditions of the injunction. The State can prosecute a violation as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If, for example, the violation alleged involves a single contact with the other party, the charge will likely be a misdemeanor; if multiple violations or harassment are alleged, the State may charge the violation as a felony.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor violation of injunction, the penalties can include up to 1 year in the county jail, up to $1,000.00 in fines, and up to 1 year of probation. You can also be required to attend and complete a 26 week course of domestic violence counseling, if you are convicted of violating a domestic violence injunction.
If you are charged with a felony violation of injunction, the penalties can include up to 5 years in state prison, up to $5,000.00 in fines, and up to 5 years of probation. These are maximum sentences and the Court would be required to consider the sentence range as recommended by the Felony Sentencing Guidelines.
Types of Violations:
The civil order of injunction is standard for Domestic, Repeat, Dating, and Sexual Violence cases. However, each order can be customized by the Court, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. You should read the order of injunction carefully to determine exactly what you are forbidden to do.
Some examples of the ways in which you can violate an injunction include:
- Contacting the other party by telephone, text, tweet, email, or any other electronic or social media.
- Delivering anything by regular mail or delivery services.
- Going to or being within 500 feet of the other party’s residence, employment, school, or other location that is described in the order.
- Going to or being within 100 feet of the other party’s vehicle.
- Damaging any property belonging to the other party.
- Failing to surrender firearms and ammunition.
- Failing to vacate the residence that was shared with the other party.
- Threatening or committing an act of violence to the party.
- Having a third party take any of the above actions at your suggestion or direction.
You may encounter a situation where the other party has expressed a desire to establish contact with you. Do not make the mistake of assuming that the other party can waive the “no contact” provisions of the injunction without first going to Court for approval. Only a judge can modify the conditions of the injunction to permit contact between you and the other party. This is true even if the other party has already reached out to you by phone, text, or other means (e.g. a message sent through a friend or family member).
Florida law permits law enforcement to arrest you for unauthorized contact even if the other party consented to and initiated the contact. Do not make the mistake that countless others have made by responding to contact by the other party. That person can easily change his/her mind and report your response to law enforcement, leading to your arrest.
You may choose to engage the services of an attorney to assist you in the defense of your case. An attorney can perform a number of valuable services, with the goal of dismissing or limiting the impact of a prosecution for violation of injunction. For example, your attorney could pursue one or more of the following courses of action:
- Early intervention with the prosecutor assigned to your case. Your attorney can attempt to persuade the prosecutor that the facts of the situation do not warrant filing charges. Some arguments made on your behalf could include:
- The other party consented to having contact with you
- The other party may have been the one to initiate contact
- The contact was unintentional
- The other party does not wish to see you prosecuted for any contact
- The other party wishes to dissolve the injunction itself
- The facts that led to the injunction were not serious in nature (e.g. no threats of violence or violence was involved)
- The contact was for a legitimate purpose (e.g. to obtain your personal property)
- You have already begun a court-approved domestic violence or anger management counseling program
- You are accused of violating a temporary injunction and the final injunction was denied/not granted by the Court
- If early intervention does not persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the charge, the following defenses might be employed to successfully defend you at trial:
- The contact was not intentional, but was the result of an accident or a mistake.
- The contact was lawful under the order of a judge in a paternity, child support, or divorce case.
- You never received official notice from the Court that an injunction had been entered against you.
- A third option exists whereby your attorney can seek to persuade the prosecutor and the Court to permit you to enter a diversion program. A Domestic Violence Intervention Program would require you to complete domestic violence or anger management counseling. Once the program was successfully completed, the Court would dismiss the charges.