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Domestic Violence

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Notice of Legal Rights and Remedies available

Domestic Violence: No one, not even someone you live with, has the right to beat you and threaten you with violence.

If this is happening to you, You Can Take Action. Knowing your legal rights and other options is the first step toward ending the abuse.

There is a Law to Protect You!

. . . if you are being physically or sexually abused or threatened by a family or household member, or you fear such abuse. The law protects you if you are being abused or threatened by your spouse, former spouse, or another family or household member who is or was living in the same household as you. The law protects you from abuse by a person with whom you have a child in common. You need not be married to the abuser or related to be protected under the law.

What does the Law say?

If you are the victim of domestic violence, you may ask the State Attorney to file a criminal complaint. Call your local State Attorney. You have the right to go to court and file a petition requesting an injunction for protection from domestic violence which may include, but need not be limited to, provisions which restrain the abuser from further acts of abuse; direct the abuser to leave your household; prevent the abuser from entering your residence, school, business, or place of employment; award you custody of minor children; and direct the abuser to pay support to you and the minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so.

Can this Law help?

Yes . . . if this individual has abused you physically or sexually, or if you have reason to fear that this person is about to be violent toward you. This special law in Florida enables you to get a Judge to ORDER the abuse to STOP.

The paper that starts this process is called a Petition for Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence. This explains to the judge whom you need protection from and exactly what protection you need. You can ask for help even if you cannot afford to pay court fees. The court clerk will help you in filling out the proper forms.

If you have left your home to avoid being abused, you can still file a petition.

What can the Judge do for me?

After you file your petition, the Judge can sign a Temporary or Permanent Injunction, or both. Either type of injunction, or order, will tell the abuser that he/she may not be violent toward you. A Temporary Injunction can be obtained on the same day you file your Petition, without a hearing and without the abuser knowing first. A Temporary Injunction lasts for a stated period of time not to exceed 30 days and is given to you by the Judge when you are in immediate danger of being hurt.

A Permanent Injunction can go into effect later. This injunction is for a stated period of time not to exceed one (1) year, unless extended by the court. The judge may want to hold a hearing before signing the Permanent Injunction.

What does the Injunction do?

Some things the Judge MAY order in the injunction are:

  • that the abuser not commit any acts or violence against you, your children, or others living with you
  • that the abuser immediately leave the home you share
  • that the abuser stay away from your home if you are not living together
  • that you have temporary custody of any children you and the abuser have together
  • that the abuser go to counseling

The Judge can order other help, depending upon the circumstances. This is why the contents of the Petition and your attendance at all hearings is so important - so that you can tell the Judge what you need and why you need it.

What if the Abuse or Threats happen again?

A person who refuses to follow a Judge's order can be arrested. If the abuser disobeys the Judge's Order, contact your local police or sheriff's department and show them the certified copy of the Injunction for Protection. In most cases the officer will arrest the abuser. Also, you can ask the Judge to hold the abuser responsible for not following the Judge's order.

What if you have more questions?

Getting help is worth the effort and there are many people who will help you. If you are upset and have questions or if you need a safe place to stay, contact the your local Police Department or Sheriff's Office and ask for help. They will be more than happy to assist you.


If you are aware of any individual who is being abused or exploited, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at

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