Florida law defines domestic violence as any assault (threat or attempt to do bodily harm), battery (intentional, unlawful touching or striking) sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking (repeated, willful and malicious pattern of harassing, or following), kidnapping, or false imprisonment or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one “family or household” member by another who is, or was, residing in the same single dwelling unit.
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“Family or household” members include spouses, former spouses, those related by blood or marriage, those who are or were residing in the same single dwelling unit (including same sex relationships), as well as those who have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever resided together.
It is against the law to physically hurt another adult, no matter how two people are related. Every survivor of domestic abuse has a right under Florida law to be protected. There are two kinds of courts that handle domestic violence: the Criminal Court and the Civil Court- the remedies through each are not exclusive, meaning, the victim should pursue both remedies.
The Criminal remedy involves calling the police and having the abusive party arrested and charged with a criminal offense. The Defendant will then be processed through the criminal justice system.
For a Civil Court remedy, you must go to the local courthouse and see the clerk of court. The clerk will give you a document to fill out, called a Petition for and Injunction Against Domestic Violence. A Judge will look at your petition within the next few hours and sign it if you are actually in danger. After the Judge’s signature, the Domestic Violence Injunction is active. The court will schedule a hearing two weeks into the future. You must attend that hearing if you wish the Injunction to remain in effect. The person whom the Injunction is against gets a chance to appear and fight the injunction.
If a civil order is not obeyed, the judge may hold a violator in contempt of court, which may result in a fine and/or imprisonment. Injunctions for Protection can also be enforced by the police.
Often, a Domestic Violence claims and remedies arise during the course of dissolution of marriage case and may be the occurrence that causes a party to file a petition for divorce.
If you have been a victim of domestic violence, Hoffman, Larin and Agnetti, PA can assist you, particularly when it is related to divorce or custody. We have offices in Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.