If this is happening to you, YOU CAN TAKE ACTION.
Take action: Knowing your legal rights and other options is the first step toward ending the violence.
If you are being abused by your spouse or any other person related by blood or by marriage, who is or was living in the same home as you, there is a law that protects you.
There is a law to protect you.
Click here to email Lyn Bryan for more Victim Assistance Information and to obtain a Victim Compensation Claim Form.
If a member of your household has committed a crime against you resulting in your physical injury, you may have grounds to petition the court for an "Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence." This also applies if that person has only placed you in fear (either with words or physical acts), and has made you believe you would be immediately harmed by an unlawful act of violence.
This protection is available to you if that person presently resides with you as if he/she is a member of the family, or has lived together with you in the past as if they were a family member and they can be identified as:
- A spouse
- A former spouse
- A person related by blood or marriage
- A person who has lived together with you as though they were your spouse, or
- A person with whom you have had a child together, even if you have never lived together.
What is an injunction?
It is a court order sometimes called a "Restraining Order", that directs the person not to have any contact with you.
Where can I obtain an injunction?
You can petition the court for an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence by going to the Clerk of Court, Domestic Violence Department, 1st Floor, Polk County Courthouse in Bartow.
The Clerk's Office will assist you in filing your petition and will take the file to a judge for his/her review. If the judge finds merit to the petition, he/she will enter a Temporary Order for Protection Against Domestic Violence.
If the Domestic Violence occurs after regular business hours or on weekends or holidays you may call 911 to report the abuse. If the law enforcement officer determines that you need an injunction, a deputy clerk will be contacted. The deputy clerk will assist you with a safety plan, which may include requesting injunction. If an injunction is needed, the deputy clerk will prepare the paperwork and will present it to the judge to be approved or denied.
What are the costs?
Under Florida Law, effective October 1, 2002, there is no fee to file for a domestic violence Injunction for Protection. Other petitions for injunction are subject to the standard Circuit Court filing fees, currently $101.50.
What can the injunction do for you?
The injunction can provide such relief as the court deems proper, including:
- Restrain the violator from committing any acts of domestic violence;
- Award you temporary exclusive use of the home;
- Award you temporary custody of your children - Establish temporary child support for minor children (if the violator has a legal obligation to do so);
- May order the violator to participate in counseling.
What happens after the Judge grants the temporary injunction?
The violator must be personally served with a copy of the petition, notice of hearing and temporary injunction. The formal hearing will be scheduled for court within 15 days. You and the violator are required to attend the hearing.
Any injunction granted by the court will be effective until further order of the court, unless the judge includes an expiration date. Either party may ask the court to modify or dissolve the injunction, and that decision is made by the judge.
Copies of all injunctions are placed on file with local law enforcement agencies and are entered into a statewide computer system.
What if the abuse or threats happen again?
If the abuser violates the Injunction and threatens or physically abuses you, call your local law enforcement agency and show them the certified copy of the Injunction for Protection. In some cases, the officer will arrest the abuser. If the officer does not arrest the abuser, you can still file a Motion for Contempt at the county courthouse.
What if I have more questions?
Getting help can be a long and difficult process, but it is worth the effort and there are many people who will help you. If you are upset and have questions or if you need a safe place to stay, contact the Domestic Violence Center.
Bartow Police Department Victim Assistance 863.534.5034
Peace River Center Domestic Violence Shelter 863.413.2700
State Attorney Office-Victim Assistance 863.534.4800
For immediate assistance, call the FLORIDA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE AT 1-800-500-1119