Violation of Protective Orders

Domestic violence is a criminal offense in Florida. Victims of domestic abuse can ask the court for a protective order, which is a civil remedy designed to protect victims from further violence. But if the subject of the protective order violates the order, he or she will be subject to criminal penalties. If you have violated a protective order, a West Palm Beach defense attorney can help.

Domestic Violence Protective Orders

Victims of domestic violence or those with reasonable cause to believe that they are in imminent danger of domestic violence may petition the court for a domestic violence protective order. The court may grant the petition and issue an injunction for protection against domestic violence, or may grant a temporary injunction pending the hearing on the petition.

The duration of a protective order varies based on the circumstances of each case. If warranted, the judge may order that the order be effective permanently, unless later modified or terminated by the court. Either party may request a modification or dissolution of the order, but neither may change the terms of the order without the court’s authority.

Violation

Once the court has entered a protective order, whether it is temporary pending the hearing or a permanent injunction, violation of the order can lead to criminal penalties. There are many ways to violate a domestic violence protective order. What constitutes violation will depend on the specifics of the protective order.

Common acts that may constitute violation include:

  • Refusing to vacate a shared home;
  • Going within 500 feet of the victim’s home, school, workplace, or any other place specified in the order;
  • Coming within 100 feet of the victim’s motor vehicle;
  • Committing any further act of domestic violence against the victim;
  • Telephoning or communicating with the victim against the direction of the order;
  • Defacing or destroying the victim’s property; or
  • Refusing to surrender firearms if so directed by the order.
Penalties

Violation of a domestic violence protective order is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida and is punishable by any combination of up to one year’s imprisonment, one year’s probation, and a $1,000 fine.

Multiple violations may result in an aggravated stalking charge, if the violations are intended to harass or threaten the victim.

Defenses

Several possible defenses may be available to charges of violating a domestic violence protective order. Common defenses include:

  • Lack of intent to violate the order: to be a criminal offense, the violation must have been willful and intentional;
  • Mistake as to the meaning or effect of the order: if a mistake as to the order’s terms is reasonable and made in good faith, the violation may not be willful;
  • Lack of notice of the order: the subject of the order must be served with the order or otherwise given notice, or he or she cannot be charged with violation;
  • No intentional contact: if a subject communicates to a third party, who then relays the subject’s words to the victim without the subject asking, the communication is not intentional; and
  • Conflicting orders: if a person is subject to two or more conflicting protective orders, a violation of one in order to comply with the other may not be willful.

If you have been charged with violating a domestic violence protective order, or if you have questions about how a protective order will affect you or your loved ones, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for an initial consultation.