As more and more people become victims of domestic violence in South Florida and West Palm Beach, in particular, it is vital for these victims to seek legal means to protect them from threats or acts of violence from the respondents.

In most cases, these victims can file for a restraining order, which is, in essence, an injunction to protect them against acts of domestic violence from the accused. While they are called injunctions in legal terms, most people in everyday language refer to them as restraining orders. In other words, an injunction, in this case, temporary preventing directive, is often sought when the individual (the victim) does not want to have contact with another person (the accused) for a given period of time.

Most people will seek for restraining orders in allegations involving some battery or abuse such as child abuse, felony battery, battery on a pregnant person, aggravated battery, domestic battery, aggravated assault, and battery. Nonetheless, there are four types of restraining orders in West Palm Beach. They include: domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence and repeat violence.

The Petition Process

As per the West Palm Beach laws, anyone who is victim to any of the above crimes, male or female, is entitled to get a temporary preventing directive free of charge. This order is, in fact, easy to get. The petitioner – the individual alleging to have been a victim of violence – is required to fill out a petition.

In the petition, he/she should state personal information about himself/herself, as well as those of the respondent including address, information on children (if any), place of employment and much more. Most importantly, the petition should have an allegation section in the petition where the petitioner clearly states why they are eligible for the temporary preventing directive. They should state that the respondent – the individual who purportedly committed the crime – stalked them, hit them, abused their child in their presence, or committed any other crime. This is extremely crucial because it is the basis by which the temporary preventing directive will be granted.

Once the petition is filed, it becomes the duty of the judge to immediately review the petition (normally on the day it is filed) and determined if it meets the requirements as stated in the laws governing the state of Florida. If approved, the judge will grant a temporary restraining order that is generally valid for 15 days.

A court hearing will then be arranged at or near the temporary preventing directive period, which will only be binding and enforceable once law enforcement officers have served the respondent. During this 15-day period, the petitioner should gather witnesses and evidence such as video recordings and phone records that they would want to present at the hearing. All the evidence should be related to the allegations that were raised in the petition. If it becomes impossible to locate and serve the respondent, the temporary restraining order period will be extended for another 15 days.

However, if the temporary restraining order is served to the respondent alongside a court hearing notice, the judge will allow the petitioner to present his/her evidence whether the respondent is present or absent. If present, the respondent will be given a chance to object to the introduction of the evidence and can cross-examine the petitioner, as well as any other witness.

The judge will then rule on visitation and custody issues based on the facts presented. If the preventing directive is granted, either the respondent or the petitioner can file for the removal of the restraining order at any point in the future.