Attorneys Defending Against Injunctions
A “respondent” is the person against whom an injunction has been filed. It is easy to remember because the “respondent” is responding to the allegation of domestic or other violence. The allegation is made by the “petitioner” in a “petition.”
Injunction Defense Lawyers
There are few legal pleadings more personal and damaging than a Petition for Injunction related to a form of domestic or other violence. These documents are filed and publicly available and often contain horrible allegations about the respondent. Unlike a charging document filed by the State Attorney in a criminal case, there is no neutral third-party screening an allegation before making a decision and filing a charging document. When it comes to injunctions, there is no filter to the allegations. The petitioner can make any allegation he or she wishes, and during the initial review of the injunction, the court has to assume that all the allegations made are true.
When the allegations of an injunction are facially sufficient (meaning if everything alleged in the injunction petition was true, it would constitute a form of domestic or other violence sufficient for entry of an injunction), then the court must grant an injunction temporarily. This temporary injunction is only designed to last long enough for a hearing to be held. The typical temporary injunction lasts no longer than 15 days. While under this injunction, the respondent can have no contact, in person or by any other means of communication, with the petitioner. Typically the respondent will be enjoined from visiting the petitioner’s home, car, place of business or any other specifically listed location.
A major disadvantage for respondents in an injunction case is that the standard of evidence necessary to obtain an injunction is the lowest possible standard in existence in the law. The court simply must find that it is more likely than not that the alleged violence occurred. This is called a preponderance of the evidence. This is a far cry from the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard found in criminal cases. While many injunction cases consist of a petitioner’s claim of violence and no other evidence, courts will often enter a permanent injunction if it finds the petitioner’s claims at all credible.
It is clear that fighting an injunction can be an uphill battle. However, as a respondent, there are some things that you can do to increase your chances of having the injunction denied.
Engage In Discovery
A respondent is entitled to all the discovery provided for in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. This means that interrogatories (written questions that must be answered under oath), requests to produce and depositions can be used. The problem is that due to the limited time-frame of injunctions, most respondents don’t utilize regular discovery such as depositions, interrogatories and requests for production. An experienced injunction attorney can deal with this dilemma and work to get you the best outcome. You should always utilize an experienced attorney in defending against an injunction.
Speak To Witnesses
Speaking to third-party witnesses, if any are available, is one of the best ways to find out what actually happened. Keep in mind that these witnesses must have their depositions taken or appear in court for the evidence to be admissible. A written statement, even a notarized written statement, is not admissible in an injunction hearing.
If any of the allegations occurred in public, there is a chance that a local business or store could have video surveillance of the incident. Also, a local business can provide the names and contact information of all their employees working at the time of the alleged incident. Typically, it takes a subpoena to obtain this evidence, so you should speak to your attorney about obtaining this evidence as soon as you are served with an injunction.
Be Well Prepared — Even If It Takes Longer
In order to have all of your evidence and testimony ready, it may require more than two weeks to prepare. As you will only get one shot at a hearing, it is vital you are well-prepared. If any of your evidence is not ready, then you should consider asking the court to continue your hearing to a later date. This should be done in advance of the hearing. This means you will be under a temporary injunction longer, but ultimately, it is more important that you are fully prepared for your hearing rather than simply pushing forward to “get it over with”.
Consult An Attorney
Using any experienced attorney will vastly increase your odds of prevailing when it comes to an injunction. An experienced attorney will be able to utilize discovery, investigate the case and put forth your best evidence and arguments at a final hearing. No amount of studying the law or knowledge of the facts can give you the experience and expertise needed to perform well in injunction cases. An attorney’s first-hand experience is crucial in these cases. Petitioners often have free attorneys from legal aid organizations, but there are no similar services for respondents.
Our family law attorneys have handled a vast number of injunction cases. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates for a free initial consultation to discuss your injunction case.