Step 1: Go to the courthouse and get the necessary forms.
You can file a petition for an injunction for protection against stalking in the circuit court located in the circuit where you currently live (even if it’s only a temporary residence), where the respondent lives, or where the stalking occurred.1 Go to the clerk’s office to get the forms that you need. To look for the location of the courthouse near you, go to our FL Courthouse Locations page.
1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(1)(f)
Step 2: Fill out the forms.
You will likely have to give the following information when you apply for an injunction:
- The respondent’s current address and last known place of employment;
- The respondent’s date of birth and a physical description of him/her;
- Any aliases (other names) that s/he uses;
- A list of any other current court cases involving you and the respondent; and
- A list of any other times you applied for an injunction against the respondent and what happened in those cases - (case numbers should be included, if available).1
The form will ask you to give a detailed description of the facts and circumstances about the stalking and your reasons for seeking protection.
Read the petition carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand something. The clerk may be able to provide some type of assistance but cannot tell you what to write or advise you.2 Describe in detail how the respondent stalked or cyberstalked you. Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible.
Do not sign the form until you have shown it to a clerk. The form may have to be signed in front of a notary public, clerk or a judge at the courthouse. If the paperwork asks for your address and you are afraid that giving your address will put you in danger, tell the clerk. S/he will help you fill out a form to ask the court to allow you to keep your address a secret. Note: The clerk is supposed to try to protect your privacy as much as possible while you are completing the forms for an injunction for protection against stalking.
1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(3)(b),(c)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(2)(c)(1)
3 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(2)(c)(3)
Step 3: A judge will review your petition and may give you an ex parte temporary order.
When you turn in your petition to the clerk, the clerk will send it to the judge for review. If it appears to the judge that stalking exists or that there is an immediate and present danger of stalking, the judge can give you a temporary ex parte injunction, which will last until the full hearing (approximately 15 days). The judge is supposed to set the hearing date at the earliest possible time.1
1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(4),(5)(a),(b)
Step 4: Service of process
In order to serve the papers on the respondent, the clerk will give a copy of the petition, notice of hearing, and temporary injunction to the sheriff or a law enforcement agency in the county where the respondent lives or where s/he can be found. Then the sheriff or other law enforcement officer will serve it upon the respondent as soon as possible, any day of the week and at any time of the day or night.1
Another option for service, if you request it in court, is that you can give a certified copy of the order to law enforcement yourself and accompany/assist the officer who serves it on the respondent.2 To find contact information for your local sheriff, go to our FL Sheriff Departments page.
Note: The clerk of the court should give you two certified copies of the order of injunction and there will be a paper that explains what the procedure is for serving (and enforcing) the order.3
You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?
1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(8)(a)(1)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(8)(a)(2)
3 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(2)(c)(4)
Step 5: The hearing
When you are requesting a final injunction for protection, you must prove that the respondent has committed an act of stalking (as defined by the law) against you.
You are required to go to the court hearing. If you find out you absolutely cannot attend, you must contact the court clerk immediately and ask how you can get a “continuance” for a later court date. However, continuances are normally not granted. If the petitioner does not show up, generally the temporary injunction will be dismissed.
At the hearing, you will be asked to testify in court about the stalking you have experienced. The respondent will also be allowed to be present evidence and testify in the hearing. See the At the Hearing section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were stalked. You can learn more about the court system in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section.
If the respondent does not show up, the court may issue a “default judgment” and you may receive a final injunction against the respondent without him/her being there. If not, a date for another court hearing may be set. If another hearing date is set and the judge does not extend the temporary injunction, you should request that s/he do so before leaving the courtroom.