It’s an all too common scenario. Neighbors or a couple get mad at each other. They fight. The cops are called. They don’t know who to arrest. Sometimes they arrest everyone involved. Sometimes they arrest just one person. Sometimes they don’t arrest anyone. In almost every case, the police will advise the parties that they have the option of pursuing an injunction for protection.
Injunctions for protection are civil judgments that give the police the ability to arrest the target if they violate any one of the many terms specified, including coming within 100 feet of the person that the injunction is supposed to protect. Injunctions are generally imposed on a temporary basis if a judge determines that the allegations warrant the immediate protection. A hearing is held after notice is given to the person who is the alleged aggressor after about a month. Evidence from both parties is allowed and a judge will decide the outcome. A judge can order that the injunction should stay in place for a few months, forever, or not impose it at all and dismiss the case. An important consideration is to decide if the allegations are being pursed by DCF or the State Attorney. Defending the injunction could jeopardize your standing in future cases.
Injunctions can be an effective tool in domestic cases to keep hot tempers from further boiling over into additional domestic violence incidents by keeping the parties at a safe distance. They also help get the State Attorney and DCF involved.
However, when it comes to neighbors, it gets a little trickier. It is unlikely that a judge would force someone to move out of their home in a non-domestic violence case. The more reasonable approach is for a judge to impose a smaller zone of restriction between the parties and to advise the aggressor to stay as far away from the other person as they can.
I’ve recently handled a few cases where the people seeking the injunction made really outrageous allegations. Fortunately, we won and the judge agreed with my clients and determined that there wasn’t a sound basis to impose the restrictions.
The take-away: steer clear of problem neighbors, and even sometimes that won’t be enough. Rather than subject yourself to the potential violations that can get charged as crimes, fight it! You can’t win it if you aren’t willing to fight it!
For an aggressive defense of civil stalking or domestic violence injunctions, call Matthew E. Ladd at 305-665-3978.
Nothing contained herein should be construed as formal legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Consult an attorney if you are faced with the issues discussed herein.