Restraining Orders, called “Injunctions” in Florida, are civil court orders prohibiting certain actions. Most people think of Injunctions as between 2 people when one person, called the Petitioner, files a petition seeking a court order prohibiting another person, the Respondent, from being within 500 feet of the Petitioner or their home, office, school, etc. Attorney Mark Lowry has argued hundreds of Injunction cases for both Petitioners and Respondents over his 16+ year career and has achieved great success and respect in doing so.
As stated above, these civil cases start by the Petitioner filing a petition with the court seeking an injunctive order (restraining order) against the Respondent. The Petitioner will need to know which type of Injunction they are seeking, whether it be domestic violence related, stalking, sexual violence, dating violence, etc. Once this is selected, the Petitioner must then write the facts he or she is alleging to show why they are deserving of the court order. There are different elements that must be alleged in the petition depending on what type of Injunction is sought. For example, to prove stalking, the Petitioner must allege repeated, unwanted following or harassing over, a period of time, that caused emotional distress in the Petitioner. If the petition does not allege either enough instances of repeated harassment, or it did not happen over a long enough period of time, or it does not state the Petitioner felt distressed, the petition can be denied.
Once the petition is completed it is brought to a “duty judge”, which is a rotating judge that reviews these and other daily applications for Injunctions, etc. The judge will review the petition and if all elements are properly alleged then he or she will issue a Temporary Injunction and set the case down for a final hearing, which is a trial without a jury, in approximately 14 days. The Temporary Injunction, sometimes referred to as a Temporary Restraining Order, or TRO, will state that the Respondent must stay at least 500 feet away from the Petitioner and any addresses that are listed, and must turn-in any firearms Respondent possesses, among other conditions. The county sheriff’s department will then attempt to serve the Respondent with the Temporary Injunction, which will as well state when the final hearing is set for. If the duty judge does not find that all elements were alleged in the petition, no Temporary Injunction will be issued but the Petitioner will still get a Final Hearing to use evidence and attempt to prove the necessity for this court order. Because a final hearing date is set, the Respondent must still be served and noticed for the hearing. If the Respondent cannot be served because he or she cannot be found, then the final hearing will be continued for another date, and if there was a Temporary Injunction already in place, it will be extended until the next final hearing date.
At the final hearing both parties, the Petitioner and Respondent, can bring witnesses and other evidence like pictures or voicemail recordings. There is no jury so only the judge will hear the evidence and argument from both sides and make a ruling. The rules of evidence apply so both parties must either have counsel present or know the rules well in order to admit into evidence what they brought to help prove their case. When attorney Mark Lowry is representing the Petitioner, he will carefully track the petition’s language and have the Petitioner, and all witnesses, discuss the written allegations. This will help the court see that the Petitioner is credible by stating the same allegations as already sworn to in the petition. If Mr. Lowry is representing the Respondent, then he will jump at the mention of any allegations not listed on the petition, arguing that if this was so vital to their protection, why was this not stated in the petition. After all of the evidence and argument is presented the court will rule to either grant the Petitioner an Injunction or deny the petition. If granted, the court will ask the Petitioner how long they wish the order to last, and this can be anywhere from 1 month to indefinitely. If the petition is denied, the Temporary Injunction expires, and both parties simply walk away and reminded by the court to obey the law.
Attorney Mark Lowry is very experienced in litigating Injunctions for both Petitioners and Respondents, knowing the ins and outs of what must be proven at the final hearing and how to do so successfully. If you are a Petitioner and need assistance writing the petition, Mr. Lowry will assist you in drafting the petition and zealously represent you from start to finish, including the final hearing. If you are the Respondent, Mr. Lowry will go over the petition with you, discuss what kind of evidence we will need to combat the allegations, and represent you at the final hearing where he will aggressively defend your position with evidence and argument. Regardless of the side Mr. Lowry is representing, you can feel confident that he will make sure your side is heard and respected by the court, giving you the best possible chance at success and victory.