What should I do when I leave the courtroom?
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 injunction. 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 stalker.
- 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 stalker 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, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many stalkers 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 for Stalking Victims 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 - some of them may assist stalking victims even if the stalking is not part of an intimate relationship.
What can I do if the stalker violates the order?
You can call the police and the stalker can be arrested. Make sure you have a copy of the injunction to show the police when they arrive. A person who violates an injunction can be committing a misdemeanor of the first degree.1 A misdemeanor of the first degree may be punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.2 However, it can be a felony of the third degree if the abuser has two or more convictions for violation of an injunction or foreign protection order and then violates this order against the same victim.1 A felony of the third degree may be punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.3
Another option is to file a violation petition in court if the stalker 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.4
The judge can hold the stalker in contempt of court or the state attorney can prosecute a violation as a criminal violation.5 Also, if you suffer an injury or loss as a result of a violation of the injunction for protection against stalking, the court that issued the injunction can award you money damages, including costs and attorney fees for enforcement of the injunction.6
1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0487(4)
2 Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082(4)(a); 775.083(1)(d)
3 Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082(3)(e); 775.083(1)(c)
4 Fla. Stat. § 784.0487(1), (2)
5 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(9)(a)
6 Fla. Stat. § 784.0487(5)
Can my injunction be extended, changed, or dismissed?
Either you or the respondent can file in court at any time to change (modify) or dismiss (dissolve) the injunction.1 To extend your injunction, before the order expires you can file a motion for extension and indicate if you want the order to be extended for a specific period of time or until it is “modified or dissolved” by the court.2 The judge will decide, after hearing both sides, whether or not to take the action requested.
1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(6)(b), (10)
2 See Form 12.980(i), Motion for Extension
What can I do to be safe besides getting an injunction?
You may be able to file criminal stalking charges against the stalker depending on the circumstances. You can do this by going to the police station. Be aware that if you file a criminal complaint, 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 stalker 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 for Stalking Victims 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)