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What You Need to do to Protect Yourself Against Domestic Violence Allegations

Domestic violence allegations are all too common in family law cases. Injunctions are designed to offer victims of domestic violence legal protection against their alleged perpetrators, and although many of these allegations are valid and the victims deserve protection, others use domestic violence injunctions as a tool to gain leverage in their family dispute.

Under Florida Statute Section 741.28(2), domestic violence is defined as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”

§741.28(3) defines family and members of a household as “spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.”

If you end up receiving a domestic violence injunction, you should review the following list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you navigate what is to come:

Read, Read, Read

A domestic violence injunction is a thick packet of documents that contains very important information you will need to become familiar with. Read every page in detail and make note of the hearing date, which is usually included in the first few pages of the injunction. The injunction will also include the allegations against you and strict instructions explaining what to do with any firearms you own or possess. The injunction will also state the level of contact, if any, you are permitted to have with the petitioner and/or any children you have in common. Pay attention to the locations that the petitioner includes in the injunction because you can possibly be prohibited from going to the petitioner’s place of work, residence, and vehicle. The injunction can also preclude you from going to your children’s school or child care facility. If you want to avoid any potential violations of the injunction, you need to know exactly what you are and what you are not permitted to do.

Manage Your Social Media & Texts Messages

Remove any social media accounts you have that contain posts about drugs or alcohol. These types of posts can hurt your case if your injunction contains allegations of alcohol or drug use. Keep any text messages, emails, or phone logs that can help you discredit the allegations included in the injunction. Include dates and times for any screenshots you keep so that you will be able to authenticate the messages in court. Also be sure to include the entire thread of communication to avoid any objections about your evidence in court. It is also a good idea to contact your cell phone provider to obtain official call logs with dates, times, and phone numbers.

Obtain Police Reports

If you called 911, immediately request the recording of your call. These recordings are destroyed days after the call is made. You will also need to request any and all police reports pertaining to any incidents alleged in the injunction. These reports can help to refute certain allegations, and a police officer can serve as a valuable witness in your case. If you possess any firearms, surrender them to your nearest police department. Be sure to keep the inventory receipt that the officer who impounds your weapons provides you with. You will need to present this receipt to the court as proof of surrender.

Document Physical Injuries

If the petitioner is alleging physical injuries, you should request any and all medical records that might exist, as well as any photographs of the injuries. Establish a timeline of events leading up the alleged incidents and gather any documents or notes that can be used to disprove the allegations against you. Lastly, make a list of potential witnesses who would be willing to testify on your behalf and who have personal knowledge of the incidents described in the injunction.

Don’t Contact the Petitioner

Whatever you do, never contact the petitioner for any reason. This includes contacting them through telephone, text, email, social media, telegraph, facsimile, or any other mode of communication. You also can’t communicate with the petitioner through any third party, such as parents, friends, or children.

Don’t Respond to the Petitioner

If you are ever contacted by the petitioner of your injunction, do not respond. Let their call go to voicemail and be sure to screen shot the call with the date and time. If the petitioner sends a text message or email, just ignore it. Be sure to screen shot text messages and print and save emails. Document the date and time that the messages/emails were sent. Contact from the petitioner can be a violation of the injunction, as well as grounds to have the injunction dissolved.

Don’t go Back Home Without a Police Escort

If you need to return to your residence to pick up your belongings, make sure you get a police escort to go with you. When you return, gather personal belongings such as your social security card, birth certificate, passport, copies of your children’s legal documents, insurance cards, and tax returns. If the police prohibit you from taking any of these documents, take pictures instead. If you have these documents stored electronically, be sure to take a USB or an external hard drive with you to retrieve them. For a more comprehensive list of what to take, please click here.

If you need help fighting your domestic violence allegations, you should contact our team of Miami father's rights lawyers to discuss your case. Call (305) 371-7640 to schedule your free consultation today.

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