For abuse victims, protection from abuse order could be the difference between life and death. While these orders have their limitations, they provide important legal protections and parameters for victims of abuse against their abusers. Matthew Cambó is a talented family law attorney in Florida, who specializes in family law matters and who has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America 2022 due to his exceptional focus on serving clients in family law matters. In this article, Cambó describes how protection from abuse order works and how to get one.
What is a Protection from Abuse Order?
A protection from abuse order provides victims with a civil legal protection from domestic violence. This protective order is separate and distinct from any domestic violence issues that are addressed in a criminal court. A court order signed by a judge instructs the abuser to desist abuse — including physical assault, harassment, stalking, or threats — or face legal consequences. The order is typically filed between spouses, significant others (i.e. boyfriends or girlfriends), or family members, or but it can even be applied to members of a household (e.g., roommates or housemates).
How do you get a Protection from Abuse Order?
First and foremost, if you need immediate protection on a day when the courts are closed (e.g., late at night or on a weekend or holiday), do not hesitate to call 911 or your local police department. Domestic violence related issues can often rise to the level of a criminal offense, so victims should be sure to pursue police intervention in an emergency situation, first. The victim may also petition the court on an emergency basis for protection from domestic violence. The judge will evaluate your situation and may grant you an emergency order until the court reopens so that you can apply for a standard protection from abuse order.
In non-emergency cases, arrive at your local family court as soon as possible and expect to remain there for 3–4 hours. There, the victim can receive assistance in preparing their Petition for protection against domestic violence. The victim should be sure to fully and accurately include all the details of the domestic violence incident(s) in their petition, which should include the reasons why he/she is afraid of the abuser and whether they have a fear that the abuse will continue if left unrestrained. There is often a free, secure children’s playroom is available if needed — inquire at your local court for details. There is no application cost to file for a protection from abuse order — and even if you choose to go through a private attorney.
Generally speaking, a temporary order is issued for a short period (not to exceed 15 days) until a Final Protection from Abuse hearing is scheduled with a judge. During the hearing, the accuser and accused may provide evidence and testimony from witnesses. The hearing may result in a final “permanent” protection from abuse order, depending on the ruling of the judge. “Permanent” protection from abuse order can last for 20 days, 2 years, or indefinitely, depending on the circumstances and the judge’s ruling.
What happens if the abuser violates a protective order?
The violation of the protection of order abuse has both civil and criminal liability implications, while also authorizing the police to strictly enforce the terms of the order, including, arresting the perpetrator for any violations. In terms of civil liability, the abuser can be fined, jailed, or both by the judge who instated the protective order. Violations may constitute a misdemeanor in terms of criminal liability, which could result in an arrest, jail, or other sanctions. If the abuser has more than two past convictions, the violation of the protective order may result in a 3rd-degree felony.
About Matthew Cambó
Matthew Cambó is an associate attorney with Leinoff & Lemos, P.A. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America 2022 due to his exceptional focus on serving clients in family law matters. Mr. Cambó has a degree in Political Science and a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law. He is licensed to practice in Florida and is a member of the Family Law and Young Lawyers sections of the Florida Bar.