An injunction for protection is used to keep a person safe from violence or harassment. They are most often used in domestic violence situations but can also be filed anyone experiencing harassment, including a neighbor. Unfortunately, a person can be wrongfully accused of violence or harassment and have a temporary injunction placed on them before a hearing occurs. If you have an unwarranted injunction filed against you, it is imperative that you obtained a skilled criminal defense attorney to address this serious matter.
A person seeking protection files a petition with a judge, who may grant a temporary injunction. At that point you cannot return to your home if you share it with the petitioner or otherwise have contact with him or her. If the petitioner is a neighbor, you cannot speak to them or go near them at all. In all situations, any contact could result in your arrest and criminal misdemeanor charges filed against you.
Within a few weeks of the granting of the temporary injunction, a formal hearing is held to determine if the injunction should become longer, from one month to 5 years, or even permanent. During the hearing your attorney will present information regarding why the injunction was not justified and should not be continued.
You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney
An injunction is issued to protect someone from violence or harassment, which are criminal offenses. Even if the injunction arose from a civil situation, such as a divorce, you still need a criminal defense attorney to represent you in this matter. Criminal defense attorneys understand the relevant laws and will present your actions appropriately with regard to them. A civil attorney may know the laws but not appreciate the nuances that can make the difference between success and failure.
During the hearing, your attorney will try to dispute the information presented by the petitioner and present alternative information as to why the petition was initially filed. For example, a person may wrongfully seek an injunction against you:
- To get the upper hand in a divorce proceeding;
- To get sole custody of children;
- To negotiate better terms in a contract or other dispute; or
- As a form of harassment.
A skilled criminal defense attorney will work to stop the injunction becoming long-term or permanent.
The Potential Impacts
An injunction granted due to domestic violence or harassment can have significant negative impacts on your life and must be taken seriously. Hiring an expert criminal defense attorney is the best first step.
Some of the problems that can arise from having an injunction successfully filed against you include:
- Damage to your livelihood and financial stability. The injunction becomes part of your public record and cannot be expunged. Anyone conducting a search at any time and for any reason, from a potential employer to a lender, will see the injunction and probably make assumptions regarding your mental health and violent tendencies. This information could cause you to lose a job opportunity, be unable to finance a car or home, or even rent an apartment.
- Removal of your right to possess or own a firearm. In Florida, anyone with an active injunction filed against them cannot possess or own a firearm.
- Risk additional charges. Once the injunction is in place, even the most innocent contact with the petitioner violates it. You can be arrested and criminally charged with a misdemeanor, which also becomes part of your record.
An active injunction filed against you can negatively affect your life in so many ways. Attorney Ben Stechschulte is a former prosecutor who is currently a board certified criminal defense attorney who defends clients against unwarranted injunctions. If you find yourself the subject of a temporary injunction, contact him immediately to avoid the potential long-term damage that can occur if it becomes permanent.