Real Life Case Studies with Restraining Orders from attorney Janet Langjahr:
Real Life Case Studies with Criminal Domestic Violence Assault Defense and Battery Defense from lawyer Janet Langjahr:
- South Palm Beach County courthouse in Delray Beach, Florida
- main courthouse in Palm Beach County in West Palm Beach, Florida
- North Palm Beach County courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
- main Broward County courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Florida Domestic Violence Law and Procedure simplified by lawyer Janet Langjahr:
You've just been formally, legally accused of domestic violence.
You have no criminal record whatsoever.
You haven't done anything.
You may be the real victim of domestic abuse.
But you never called your abuser to account.
You may be going through a divorce.
Or, your spouse may know, you are about to go through a divorce.
Or you may be arguing with an ex-lover about parenting or timesharing issues concerning your kids.
However you got here, it doesn't really matter right now.
You are here.
You need to understand what legal processes have been or are going to be unleashed against you.
Unfortunately, often, it's more than one.
You need to start preparing your domestic violence defense.
No matter what your accuser may now tell you privately.
Your accuser accused you.
The help you need now can come only from a domestic violence attorney.
The first thing you need to understand is that there are two separate legal mechanisms for alleged perpetrators of domestic violence battery or
Your accuser may elect to go after you with "just" one - either one, as they choose - or both.
Despite their similarities, they are two different legal processes, requiring different responses, having different procedures, imposing different legal burdens on you
and, most importantly, carrying different legal consequences.
The first legal process is considered a civil process.
The process typically begins with you being served by a sheriff with a
Temporary Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence
or against Repeat, Sexual or Dating Violence.
Such a court injunction may also be known to you as:
- a domestic violence restraining order
- a restraining order
- a harassment restraining order
- a restrain order
- a protective order
- an order of protection
- a no contact order or
- a civil protection order.
Your accuser, the Petitioner, may typically have one of these entered against you without your knowledge.
Just by going down to the courthouse and filling out some papers.
The Petitioner may not even have to appear before a judge.
But, within a couple of weeks or so, you will have a hearing - or trial - before a judge, not a jury.
If your accuser wishes, your accuser will be represented by a free Legal Aid attorney who practices primarily domestic violence law.
If the Petitioner prevails, you may be subject to an
Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence
or against Repeat, Sexual or Dating Violence.
This type of Injunction is a special type of court order that prohibits you from having any contact with your accuser - and may restrict your contact with any
children you have together with your accuser.
This is not a temporary restraining order. It is considered "permanent", although how long it is good for depends.
If the Petitioner prevails, you will likely have to leave the home you share with the Petitioner.
Your "guilt" need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge merely has to believe that your accuser is either the victim of domestic violence or has
reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.
A restraining order violation may lead to police involvement and prosecution by law enforcement.
Even if the Petitioner tells you it is OK.
Only a judge can make it OK, by dissolving or, possibly, modifying the injunction.
You, as the accused, are not entitled to a Legal Aid attorney or other court-appointed domestic violence defense attorney.
If the police came to the scene of any alleged incident of domestic abuse, be sure to get a copy of the domestic violence report by the police as soon
as it becomes available - typically ten days later.
The second legal process is a criminal domestic violence process.
It is a criminal prosecution for one of several possible domestic violence charges or crimes.
Criminal domestic violence cases begin with a domestic violence arrest, where you are charged with misdemeanor domestic violence or
felony domestic assault charges.
While the case is going on, there will generally be a court order that prohibits you from having any contact with your accuser, the complaining witness or
No matter what the complainant tells you, do not violate that no contact order.
The complainant cannot make it OK.
Only a judge can make it OK, by dissolving or, possibly, modifying the no contact order.
You will be entitled to a trial by a jury of your peers.
The complaining witness's case will be mounted by an assistant state attorney who is on the complainant's side. The complaining
witness will also have a domestic abuse advocate furnished through the state attorney's office, to help the complainant maintain their focus on prosecuting you.
If the complainant prevails, the worst case scenario is that you may be sentenced to jail.
Lesser consequences are also possibilities.
Even if the complainant does not prevail, you will still have a criminal history.
This could affect your employability and social standing.
You may be able to eliminate that criminal history at a later date by initiating another legal process, but it will not happen automatically.
As you can see, either of the two processes by which someone may accuse you of domestic violence may have serious consequences
for your life.
And if your accuser decides to shoot at you "with both barrels", well, you will certainly have your hands full.
If your income is low enough, you may be eligible for legal representation by the staff of the Public Defender's office.
Although they have many capable, experienced attorneys, they are all carrying very heavy caseloads and seriously overworked.
If you are arrested, be sure to get a copy of the police report as soon as it becomes available - typically ten days later.