Florida’s Domestic Violence Law – No protection for family members who become third-party victims

By OTM Marketing,

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There are two Domestic Violence Injunction Statutes in the state of Florida, Florida Statute 741.30 and Florida Statute 784.046.  The most commonly filed injunction is the one filed under Florida Statute 741.30.  In order to obtain a Domestic Violence Injunction under this statute you must first qualify as a person protected by the statute. In order to determine if you qualify as a person protected by the statute you must look at Florida Statute 741.28 that provides definitions to be applied to Florida Statute 741.30. In accordance with that statute to be a person qualified to seek protection under Florida Statute 741.30 you must be a “Family or household member”.

According to Florida Statute 741.28 “Family or household member” means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit. This statute does nothing to protect family members of the victim of domestic violence from becoming victims of the batterer while attempting to assist their family member. When a domestic violence injunction is sought at the local courthouse, the clerk of court will ask are you residing with or have you resided with the aggressor in the past. If the individual seeking the injunction replies “no”, the clerk automatically gives the person a Petition for Injunction Against Repeat Violence which covered under a separate statute, Florida Statute 784.046. However, under that statute, you must allege and be able to prove at least two incidents of violence. If there is only one incident, your Petition for Protection Against Domestic Violence will be DENIED. Now the Petitioner who requested protection from the Court, has no doubt angered the agressor or respondent and potentially have guaranteed a second incident of violence. Unfortunately, the second incident of violence may result in the death or serious injury of an innocent family member or friend who was merely trying to help a loved one. A person should not have to be victim of  domestic violence twice under any circumstances to be able to seek protection from the Court. The Court’s are doing their best to deal with the voluminous amount of domestic violence injunctions that are filed on a daily basis. However, the Court’s are constrained to follow the statutes as they are written. Consequently, until the legislature decides to do something to correct the dangerous gap between the two protective statutes, domestic violence will continue to go unchecked in this volatile area of domestic violence law.

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