What should I do when I leave the courthouse?
Review the injunction before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, you might be able to present your concerns to the judge at that time. If you notice an error after you leave the courtroom or the courthouse, you may want to file legal papers called a “motion for clarification.” You may want to consult with an attorney for help with this.
- The clerk of court will give you at least two certified copies of the order. You may want to make several more copies of the injunction as soon as possible.
- Keep a copy of the injunction with you at all times.
- Leave copies of the injunction at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
- Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
- Give a copy of the injunction to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
- If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
- You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number if permitted by law.
- Be aware of your safety while leaving the courthouse. If you are concerned that the abuser may try to approach you, contact a court officer to see if you can be accompanied to your car.
Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the injunction. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many abusers obey injunctions, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. View our Safety Tips page for some suggestions. Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. For a list of domestic violence centers, see our FL Advocates and Shelters page.
Can the abuser have a gun?
Once you get an injunction, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession. There are a few places where you can find this information:
- first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Florida have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
- second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
- third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.
You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website.
What can I do if the judge doesn't give me an injunction?
You can try to talk to a domestic violence advocate to find out what the problem was. It might just be something wrong in the paperwork. If possible, ask the clerk if you can correct the problem and re-submit the petition. If the judge found that you did not have any allegations of domestic violence (according to its legal definition), you can always reapply if another incident happens.
If you didn’t already have a lawyer, it may be necessary at this point to contact a lawyer to get specific advice on your situation. You will find contact information for legal assistance on the FL Finding a Lawyer page of this website.
You may want to view our Safety Tips page as well, for other ways you can increase your safety.
What can I do if the abuser violates the injunction?
You can call the police right away. Tell the police that you have an injunction for protection against domestic violence. Make sure you have a copy of the injunction to show the police when they arrive. When the police arrive, you can tell them what happened and that you want the abuser to be arrested. Violation of an injunction can be a misdemeanor in the first degree or a felony of the third degree if it is violated three or more times against the same victim.1
If the injunction is violated but the abuser is not arrested, you can report the violation to the clerk’s office in the circuit court in the county where the violation occurred, which may be a different courthouse than the one that gave you the injunction. The clerk will help you take the appropriate steps to file a violation petition to enforce your injunction. Your affidavit (sworn statement) will then be sent to law enforcement and the state attorney for further action.2
The civil court judge can also hold the abuser in contempt of court. Even if there is ultimately no criminal prosecution for the violation, the civil court judge can order that the abuser go to batterers’ treatment program and you can be awarded money damages for an injury or loss that you suffer as a result of the violation (including your attorney’s fees and court costs).2 For a list of courthouses, go to FL Courthouse Locations.
1 Fla. Stat. § 741.31(4)(a),(c)
2 Fla. Stat. §§ 741.31(5),(6); 741.30(9)(a)
Is my injunction still valid if I move?
Your final injunction and temporary ex parte injunction are good where ever you go in Florida.
Additionally, the federal law provides what is called “full faith and credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order (like an injunction for protection), it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.1 Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders. Because a temporary ex parte injunction is given based only on your information and the abuser did not have an opportunity to be heard, there may be limitations on the enforcement of a temporary ex parte injunction in another state.
If you are moving out of state, you may want to call a domestic violence organization or the State Coalition in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders.
Remember to take a certified copy of your injunction with you when you move.
If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2 ) for information on enforcing your order there.
1 18 U.S.C. § 2265
What if the abuser is in the military?
Civil protective orders are supposed to be enforceable by military officials on military installations. Please see our Military Protective Orders page for more information.
How do I change the injunction?
If you want to change your injunction, you must go back to circuit court and ask the clerk for the forms to amend (change) your injunction. You may have to have another hearing in court.
My order is going to expire soon. Can I extend it?
If your injunction for protection against domestic violence is soon going to expire, you can ask the court for an extension of the order before it expires. You would file your motion for an extension in the circuit court clerk’s office. You will probably have to fill out a petition similar to the one you filled out for the original order. Each time you ask for an extension, it can be extended up to one year. The judge has broad discretion when deciding whether to grant an extension after considering the circumstances of why you want it. You do NOT have to allege new incidents of violence1 but you should be prepared to explain why you still need protection.
1 See Fla. Stat. § 741.30(6)(c)
What can I do to be safe besides getting an injunction?
You may be able to file criminal charges against the abuser, depending on the circumstances. You can do this by going to the police station. Be aware, however, that if you later decide not to pursue your complaint, the state of Florida will not necessarily drop the criminal charges. Unlike an injunction, which is considered a private matter, a criminal charge is considered a public offense. The state may decide to prosecute the accused abuser even if you are no longer interested in taking action.
Whether or not you decide to get an injunction, you should consider making a plan for your safety. See our Safety Tips page for more information.
If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?
According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:
- the petition you file;
- the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
- the registration of an order in a different state.1
1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)