What Happens If I Violate a Domestic Violence Injunction?
If you are currently subject to a court injunction related to stalking or domestic violence, you need to take the restrictions imposed by such order seriously. Violating an anti-stalking injunction is considered a felony in Florida. This means you may face serious jail time if you go against the judge’s instructions.
Court Rejects Argument That No Contact Means No Crime Occurred
A recent decision from the Florida First District Court of Appeals, Libersat v. State, illustrates how judges will not be receptive to perceived attempts to “work around” the express terms of an injunction. In this case, the defendant was previously convicted of stalking a woman identified in court records as “E.L.” The defendant received probation in that case, which included a domestic violence injunction.
Under the terms of the injunction, the court identified multiple “exclusion zones,” including E.L.’s home and workplace. The defendant was also required to wear a GPS monitor, which would alert his probation officer if he traveled into any of these exclusion zones. One day, according to the defendant’s then-girlfriend, he directed her to drive by E.L.’s street, which triggered the GPS alarm. The defendant then lied to his probation officer about the incident.
However, the now-ex-girlfriend also testified in court that the defendant “used fake accounts to search for E.L. on Facebook and then sent Gilley screenshots of photographs he found on E.L.’s Facebook page.” The defendant also admitted to her that he “had driven by E.L.’s job many times, her father’s house at least twice, and their child’s school once.”
After breaking up with the defendant, the ex-girlfriend informed E.L. about the defendant’s activities. Prosecutors subsequently charged the defendant with “aggravated stalking,” which under Florida law includes stalking someone in violation of a domestic violence injunction. At trial, and later on appeal, the defendant argued he did not commit the alleged offense because he “never contacted” E.L. directly and therefore “did not suffer substantial emotional distress” until informed after-the-fact by the defendant’s ex-girlfriend.
Neither the trial judge nor the appellate court accepted this defense. The First District Court of Appeals noted that at least one of its sister courts had previously rejected a similar claim that stalking requires direct or indirect contact with the victim. Nor does the language of the law require proof that the victim suffered “substantial emotional distress at the same time as the stalker’s actions.” More to the point, it was “reasonable” for E.L. to suffer emotional distress after learning of the defendant’s actions, particularly since he was expressly violating the terms of his anti-stalking injunction.
Contact Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Julia Kefalinos Today
The lesson of this case is pretty simple: Never violate an anti-stalking injunction. If you wish to challenge an injunction or believe it no longer applies to your situation, there are legal remedies you can take advantage of. If you need legal advice or representation in this area from an experienced Miami domestic violence defense attorney, contact the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos today at 305-676-9546 to schedule a free consultation.