In any accusation involving domestic violence, the alleged victim may seek an order of protection. A protective order will severely curtail your liberty and affect your daily life.
If a member of your family or household accuses you of abuse, they may also file for a protective order. They may receive a temporary order, and you will not have the opportunity to be heard in that matter. However, before a permanent order is entered, the court will hold a hearing. The same attorney representing you on a domestic violence matter can also represent you in this hearing.
If you are facing accusations of domestic violence in Palm Beach County and the accuser is seeking a protective order against you, you can have an attorney on your side. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., our experienced West Palm Beach lawyers will argue why an order of protection against you is unwarranted.
If you have been served with a petition for an Order of Protection in Palm Beach County, contact us immediately at (561) 283-3259 to set up a consultation. We are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and time is of the essence in these cases. You will speak to an experienced attorney — not someone new that we hand the case down to. Call now.
We represent clients throughout the County, including in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington and Jupiter.
Under Florida Statutes § 741.28, domestic violence is defined as an act of violence, including offenses like assault and battery, against a family or household member. A family or household member could be a spouse, child, relative or person the accused lives with. Additionally, Florida Statutes § 784.046(1)(d) defines dating violence as an act of violence against someone with whom the accused is in a significant romantic or intimate relationship.
In cases of domestic violence or dating violence, the victim has the right, under the statute, to petition for an order of protection, often called a "restraining order" or a "no-contact order," if he or she has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of violence again.
The order of protection may contain several injunctions. An injunction is a specific order to do something or not doing something. Violating any injunction in an order for protection is a crime in itself.
The person filing for an order is called a "petitioner." The person against whom the order is filed is called the "respondent."
When the petitioner files, the judge will review the request and determine whether the person filing is likely to be in immediate danger. If he or she determines the petitioner might be, the judge may issue a temporary order.
This is an ex parte matter, meaning the respondent does not have a chance to weigh in. If you receive notice of a temporary order, there is little you can do but abide by it. It will last up to 15 days.
Within those 15 days, the court must schedule a hearing for a permanent order. A permanent order will last indefinitely, or for a certain period of time. For a permanent order, the respondent has a right to a hearing and a right to be representing by a domestic violence attorney.
At the hearing, the petitioner must present evidence why a permanent order is necessary. The evidence must show reasonable cause that he or she will be a victim again, and the evidence must be "strong and clear" (Kopelovich v. Kopelovich, 793 So.2d 31 (2nd DCA 2001)). This is a much lower standard of evidence that to convict a person of a crime (beyond reasonable doubt).
However, your attorney can vigorously fight the order, showing weaknesses in the petitioner's case or presenting evidence that shows that the petition is based on misunderstandings.
At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we can represent you both on criminal domestic violence charges and on related protective order matters in Palm Beach County courts. However, if you've received a petition, you have 15 days, at most, before a hearing. The sooner we can start on your defense, the better. Call us today at (561) 283-3259 to set up a consultation.