Domestic violence could be characterized as a silent epidemic in today’s society. No one talks about it, yet many people have fallen victim to their abusers. In my experience, both as an attorney and as a law enforcement officer, I’ve learned that many victims either do not know where to go to ask for help or remain silent about the abuse out of fear. If you are seeking help or protection from violence against an abuser, you can seek protection through the courts by requesting an injunction for protection against violence. An injunction, commonly referred to as a restraining order, is a court order that requires your abuser to stay away from you. If you are seeking an injunction for protection, here are 4 things you need to know:
- A request for an injunction must be filed with the clerk of court and must state why you are filing.
If you are seeking an injunction, you need to file a request, called a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence, with the clerk of court. You can file this in the county where you reside. The petition contains a section for you to explain why you are seeking the injunction. It is important to note that once the injunction is filed, a judge will review the petition and determine, without any additional evidence, whether it is necessary to issue a temporary injunction that will be in effect until the date of your injunction hearing. Therefore, you should make sure that you include detailed information, such as dates, description of the incident(s), and any injuries sustained from the incident(s) in your petition so that the judge can understand your situation and make the decision to either issue or deny a temporary injunction pending your court hearing.
- A temporary injunction is only in effect for a limited amount of time.
Judges do not automatically issue temporary injunctions. The decision to grant a temporary injunction is based solely on the description of the incident(s) in your petition. If the judge does not believe there is enough evidence in your petition to prove you are in imminent danger and in need of immediate protection, he or she will not issue the temporary order. If a judge chooses orders a temporary injunction against your aggressor, it is only good for approximately 15 days, or until the date of your scheduled court hearing. At the end of your court hearing, you will either be granted or denied a permanent injunction, and the temporary injunction will be dismissed.
- Permanent injunctions are ordered by the court, so it is necessary for you to attend a court hearing in order to plead your case
After filing your petition, a court date will be scheduled. It is important that you attend the court hearing on the scheduled date; failure to appear could result in your petition being dismissed. During the hearing, the judge will give you an opportunity to explain why you need protection against your abuser. Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the judge will determine whether it is appropriate to issue a permanent injunction.
- Even if you don’t get a temporary injunction, you could still be granted a permanent injunction.
It is important to remember that being granted a temporary injunction does not automatically grant you a permanent injunction. In the same spirit, being denied a temporary injunction does not mean you will automatically be denied a permanent injunction. It merely means that you did not provide the judge with enough evidence to prove that you are in imminent danger and in need of immediate protection. The allegations in your petition are the only basis for the temporary injunction; the evidence you present at your court hearing is what the judge considers when deciding whether to issue a permanent injunction. So even if you “miss the mark” and don’t provide enough evidence for an injunction in your petition, you still have another chance to state your case at your court hearing.
If you find yourself in a position where you need to seek protection against domestic violence, you are encouraged to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can walk you through the process while being sympathetic to your needs. The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Kate Mesic, P.A., are available to speak with you about your situation. Please call our office at (904) 619-2510 to schedule a consultation.