Can My Accuser Raise New Domestic Violence Allegations Against Me in Court?
Domestic violence cases are often emotionally charged affairs. But as with any legal matter, the actual process of requesting a domestic violence injunction requires all parties to observe certain formalities. One of them is the petitioner’s duty to inform the respondent of the charges against them prior to any judicial hearing. Put another way, a person cannot request a domestic violence injunction based on one set of alleged actions, but then surprise the other person with new allegations at the hearing.
Fifth District Reverses Domestic Violence Order Against Husband, Cites Wife’s Testimony Regarding Acts Not Contained in Her Petition
A recent decision from the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal, JGG v. MS, helps to illustrate this point. In this case, a wife sought a domestic violence injunction against her husband in Orange County Circuit Court. When filing her petition, the wife accused the husband of committing two specific acts of domestic violence.
At a subsequent hearing, however, the wife testified as to two other alleged incidents of domestic violence. These additional incidents were not mentioned in the wife’s petition. The husband objected to the wife’s sudden introduction of these new allegations. The judge overruled the husband’s objection and proceeded to issue a permanent domestic violence injunction against him.
The husband then appealed the judge’s ruling to the Fifth District. The appeals court agreed with him that the trial judge improperly overruled his objection. The court explained that “[p]rocedural due process requires that litigants be given proper notice and a full and fair opportunity to be heard.” This means the husband was entitled to prior notice of all of the allegations against him, not just some of them. Indeed, Florida’s domestic violence injunction law expressly states a petition must “include the specific facts and circumstances upon the basis of which relief is sought.”
In this case, the petition mentioned two specific acts but “did not include the other two events that Wife described at the hearing.” The husband was therefore “deprived” of his right to due process, the Fifth District concluded. As a result, the court reversed the permanent injunction and returned the case to the Circuit Court for a new hearing on the wife’s petition. The appeals court made it clear that at this new hearing, the trial judge should only consider the wife’s “existing petition” unless she properly amends it to include any additional allegations.
Speak with a Miami Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Today
Due process is the basis of our entire legal system. Anytime someone is accused of domestic violence, they have the right to fair notice and a hearing. No matter how awful the alleged acts may be, that does not excuse a petitioner from their legal obligation to follow the rules.
If you are accused of domestic violence, in either a civil or criminal context, it is also crucial to remember you have the right to seek representation from a qualified lawyer. Contact Miami domestic violence defense lawyer Julia Kefalinos today at 305.676.9545 to schedule a consultation.
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