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How do Florida courts respond to domestic violence allegations?

Our Florida family law firm helps clients navigate the evenly paced, often long course of a divorce proceeding. However, our attorneys also know how to act quickly, as in domestic violence situations.

Allegations of domestic violence typically involve a request for an injunction by the alleged victim. Under Florida law, a court will convene an emergency hearing to determine whether an individual is in imminent danger. Domestic violence allegations may range from stalking to assault, battery, or even false imprisonment. If the court finds sufficient evidence of the alleged acts, it may order a restraining order against the accused individual.

As background, an injunction is a form of emergency relief, rather than a final determination. An individual accused of domestic violence will still have an opportunity for a criminal trial. Yet a hearing over a domestic violence injunction request should still be taken very seriously, as it might result in court-ordered intervention programs or become part of an individual's permanent criminal record. If the domestic violence charges escalate into a criminal trial, a conviction results in a mandatory jail sentence in Florida.

Could a frivolous domestic violence injunction be sought against an individual, perhaps as a divorce tactic? In theory, yes, although there is a lot at stake for both parties. If the allegations were unfounded, the accuser stands to lose credibility with the court, which may result in unfavorable results in a pending divorce or time-sharing case. A prevailing defendant may also be able to seek attorney's fees.

Our Orlando law firm has helped clients on both sides of domestic violence allegations. We fight to make sure every client is able to tell his or her story.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Markeith Loyd: Orlando police shooting suspect has long criminal history," Mary Shanklin, Jan. 9, 2017

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