How Dating Violence Injunctions Work in Florida
Florida law permits an individual to seek a court injunction to prevent future acts of “dating violence.” To qualify for such an injunction, the parties must have been in a dating relationship within the past 6 months. There are also several different types of injunctions that may be applicable. For example, Section 784.046(2)(b) of the Florida Statutes addresses situations where the person asking for the injunction has “reasonable cause” to believe they are “in imminent danger of becoming the victim of another act of dating violence.”
The word “another” is critical here. It is not enough to show that a single prior act of dating violence occurred. The accuser must show why they have a reasonable belief that some future act of violence is imminent absent an injunction.
Appeals Court: Sending Explicit Videos of Ex-Girlfriend to Third Parties Is Not “Stalking”
Indeed, a Florida appeals court recently reversed a Manatee County judge’s decision to issue a dating violence injunction under Section 784.046(2)(b) due to a lack of such evidence. The petitioner in this case initially sought the injunction against her ex-boyfriend (the respondent). The petitioner told the trial court that she and the respondent had been in an “on-again, off-again relationship” for about 18 months.
Two weeks before she filed for the injunction, the petitioner said she had an argument with the respondent. He demanded the passcode to her phone, she said, and when she refused he “grabbed her wrist and pinned her down” until she complied. The petitioner said she broke up for good with the respondent about a week later. And despite her admonitions not to contact her again, the respondent continued to send her text messages “calling her names and criticizing her.” The respondent also contacted the petitioner’s adult child and ex-husband, sending the latter “sexually explicit videos” of the petitioner.
The trial court issued a dating violence injunction against the respondent. But the Florida Second District Court of Appeals said the petitioner’s allegations did not warrant such an injunction. The appeals court did not approve of or justify the respondent’s actions. But the dating violence statute requires proof the petitioner had a “reasonable basis” to believe that “she was in imminent danger of physical violence.” Aside from the incident described above, the petitioner admitted the respondent “had never physically threatened to harm her.”
Nor did the respondent’s post-breakup actions amount to “stalking,” at least as defined by Florida law. The appeals court noted that given the on-again, off-again nature of the parties’ relationship, it was not unreasonable for the petitioner to “expect some communication or attempt at communication from [the respondent] in the days following another such breakup–not all of it particularly kind.” As for the videos, the Court noted those were sent to third parties and not “directed at” the petitioner.
Speak with a Florida Domestic Violence Attorney Today
The lesson here is not that you should continue to contact your ex or send explicit videos of them to other people following a breakup. But it is critical to understand that not all conduct that someone finds offensive or upsetting justifies a court-ordered injunction. If you need legal advice or representation from a qualified Miami domestic violence defense attorney, contact the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos today at 305.676.9545 to schedule a consultation.