You’re Not Alone: Why Speaking to a Lawyer About Domestic Abuse Makes Sense
Over four million women are physically assaulted and/or raped by their partners each year in the United States. If that isn’t bad enough, one in three female homicide victims are murdered by their current or former partner every year, according to Safe Horizon. In Florida, over 113,000 domestic violence reports were made to Florida law enforcement agencies in 2010, according to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Domestic abuse is a serious problem. If you or a loved one is being victimized, you need to take action. Speak to a lawyer sooner rather than later to get important legal advice on how to best remove yourself, and any children, from the situation.
Understanding Florida Domestic Violence Law
Florida law defines domestic violence as an “assault, battery, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense that results in harm or death committed by a family or household member against another family or household member,” according to Florida Code Section 741.30.
Florida law, specifically Section 741.28, defines “family or household member” as:
– current or former spouses;
– persons related by blood or marriage;
– persons currently or formerly residing together as if a family; or
– parents who have a child in common, regardless of whether they were at any time married.
How a Lawyer Can Help
If you are the victim of domestic violence, a lawyer can assist you by filing a petition for an “injunction” with a Florida court. This injunction would be directed at the abuser and would help protect you and your children from having to be in the same vicinity as the abuser. For example, a temporary injunction can be sought where a court will speedily hold a hearing and a judge will determine whether an immediate and present danger of domestic violence exists. If the judge finds such a danger, they can ask the judge to issue the temporary injunction, even if the abuser has refused to participate in the hearing.
How an Injunction Can Help
If a judge issues the injunction and the abuser violates that injunction, they will be in violation of the law. In fact, it is a first degree misdemeanor, carrying up to a year in jail, to violate an injunction.
An abuser potentially violates an injunction if they refuse to vacate the home, are within 500 feet of your residence, school place employment, or other places frequented regularly by you and your children, and/or attempt to contact you by telephone, text message, etc.
As you can see, an injunction provides a level of legal protection to give you the space you need to determine what the best next step is in remedying the situation. You may decide to file for divorce from the abuser. Again, a lawyer can assist with that process.
Most importantly, you need to take action. If you continue to stay with the abuser and do not seek help, the consequences can be devastating for you and your loved ones. Don’t let this happen to you. Contact Vanessa L. Prieto today for help navigating through this process.