Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law Senate Bill 342, further clarifying the specifics of a “no contact order” and what types of communication it prohibits. No contact orders have long been used to protect victims of domestic violence and prevent the abuser from intimidating the victim. The new law’s clarifications use broad language to accommodate all forms of communication and firmly establish that no contact orders are in effect immediately upon the judge’s order. While no contact orders are exclusively used in the criminal context, the new clarifications additionally shed light on what constitutes communication for domestic violence injunctions.
What is a No Contact Order vs. Domestic Violence Injunction?
A no contact order is similar to a restraining order. Typically, it is ordered by a court as a condition of a defendant’s pre-trial release. The order prohibits a criminal defendant, or a convicted felon, from contacting the victim in the case. These orders usually last for the duration of the criminal matter or until the court otherwise removes or modifies it. The new law ensures that these orders go into effect immediately after the judge issues it. These are entirely criminal orders.
A domestic violence injunction (DVI) is similar to the no contact order in several ways. DVIs are applied for by victims of domestic violence who reasonably believe they are in imminent danger of further acts of domestic violence. If, based on the petition alone, the judge finds an immediate and present danger of domestic violence the court may grant a temporary DVI preventing the abuser from committing any acts of violence and communicating with the petitioner. These temporary orders can also provide the petitioner temporary custody and exclusive control of shared housing. DVIs become effective when the abuser is given a copy of the DVI paperwork. After the temporary hearing, a full hearing will be set, since the temporary order lasts a maximum of 15 days.
What Type of Communication is Prohibited?
Specifically, these prohibit the defendant from directly and indirectly contacting the victim. This means the defendant cannot personally call, text, email, instant message, gesture towards, touch, or even intentionally be near the victim. This includes all communications through social media and professional networking sites. To accommodate ever-changing communication technologies, the new law unequivocally states the defendant cannot communicate “orally or in any written form” to cover any and all measures of written or spoken communication.
Defendants also cannot indirectly contact the victim. This means defendants cannot cause a third person, usually a friend or family member, to contact the victim that they themselves are prohibited from speaking to.
How Can DVIs Be Lifted?
A DVI will last longer than the original 15 days set forth in the temporary order. These final injunctions may provide more protections than a temporary injunction and can last indefinitely. Should you be granted an indefinite DVI, motions to modify its conditions can be filed. Similar to the no contact order, DVIs cannot be eliminated simply because both parties wish to begin speaking or reunite; the judge must dissolve the DVI. Either party can petition the judge to terminate the order and the judge will decide whether or not to grant the termination.
How Do I Protect Myself?
If you are a victim of domestic violence or domestic abuse, there are powerful legal tools to help you obtain the protection you need. If a restraining order or DVI has been entered against you, there are legal procedures in place to protect your rights. The experienced and compassionate attorneys at All Family Law Group, P.A., in Tampa will provide experienced legal help in any domestic violence-related legal matter. Call 813-321-3421 for a free consultation, or contact us online today.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+