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Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Courts
Serving the Citizens of Brevard and Seminole Counties

Domestic Violence Court

NOTE: The information displayed in this section has been obtained from various sources. In no way should any information obtained here be taken as legal advice. If you are in need of legal assistance, please contact your attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, please contact your local Legal Aid office.

If you are in immediate danger of Domestic Violence, please call 911. To quickly leave this site at any time, click Escape.

In Florida, five different types of protective injunctions are available. Click below to learn more about each type and how they are defined by Florida Law.

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence - Domestic violence means an assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

Definition of family or household member:  Family or household member means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.  With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in a single dwelling unit.

Who may file a domestic violence injunction:   Any person who is a member of a family or household that is the victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.  Any spouse or former spouse; person related by blood or marriage; person who is or was residing within a single dwelling unit as if a family; or person who has a child in common with the respondent, regardless of whether the person and respondent are or were married or residing together as if a family.  Please note that this is a summary of the statutory definition of who may file.  The Clerk’s Office will not determine filing eligibility; however, the judge reviewing the petition will take these guidelines into consideration.

Repeat Violence

Repeat Violence

Repeat Violence - Repeat violence means two incidents of violence or stalking committed by the respondent, one of which must have occurred within 6 months of the filing of the petition, which are directed against the petitioner or the petitioner’s family.

Who may file a repeat violence injunction:  Any person who is the victim of repeat violence or the parent or legal guardian of any minor child who is living at home and who seeks an injunction for protection against repeat violence on behalf of the minor child.  Please note that this is a summary of the statutory definition of who may file. The Clerk’s Office will not determine filing eligibility; however, the judge reviewing the petition will take these guidelines into consideration. 

Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence - Sexual violence means any one incident of: (1) Sexual battery as defined in Chapter 794, Florida Statutes; (2) A lewd or lascivious act as defined in Chapter 800, F.S., committed in the presence of a person younger than 16 years of age; (3) Luring or enticing a child as described in Chapter 787, F.S.; (4) Sexual performance by a child as described in Chapter 827, F.S.; or (5) Any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted, regardless of whether criminal charges based on the incident were filed, reduced, or dismissed by the State Attorney.

Who may file a sexual violence injunction:  Any person who is the victim of sexual violence or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child who is living at home who is the victim of sexual violence if either :  (1) the person has reported the sexual violence to a law enforcement agency and is cooperating in the criminal proceeding if there is one; or (2) the respondent was sent to prison for committing one of the sexual violence crimes against the victim or minor child and the respondent is out of prison or is getting out of prison within 90 days of the petition being filed.  Please note that this is a summary of the statutory definition of who may file.  The Clerk’s Office will not determine filing eligibility; however, the judge reviewing the petition will take these guidelines into consideration.

Dating Violence

Dating Violence

Dating Violence - Dating violence means violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.  The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on consideration of the following factors:  (1) A dating relationship must have existed within the past 6 months; (2) The nature of the relationship must have been characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties; and (3) The frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship must have included that the persons have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.  The term does not include violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who only have engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.

Who may file a dating violence injunction:  Any person who is the victim of dating violence and has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of another act of dating violence, or any person who has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of an act of dating violence, or the parent or legal guardian of any minor child who is living at home and who seeks an injunction for protection against dating violence on behalf of that minor child.  Please note that this is a summary of the statutory definition of who may file.  The Clerk’s Office will not determine filing eligibility; however, the judge reviewing the petition will take these guidelines into consideration.

Stalking

Stalking

Stalking - Stalking means threats, harassment, cyber stalking, aggravated stalking, physically abusing, and any course of conduct or pattern of conduct directed at the petitioner, family members or individuals close to the petitioner, composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose.  This includes but is not limited to intentionally injuring or killing a family pet; using or threatening to use a weapon such as a gun or knife against the petitioner; or destroying personal property, including but not limited to telephones or other communication equipment, clothing, or other items belonging to the petitioner.

Who may file a stalking injunction:  Any person who is the victim of stalking or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child who is living at home who seeks an injunction for protection against stalking on behalf of the minor child.  Please note that this is a summary of the statutory definition of who may file.  The Clerk’s Office will not determine filing eligibility; however, the judge reviewing the petition will take these guidelines into consideration.

Brevard County Batterers Intervention Program Providers

Click here to view Brevard County Batterers Intervention Program Providers Page

Seminole County Batterers Intervention Program Providers

Click here to view Seminole County Batterers Intervention Program Providers Page

Download the Domestic Violence Checklist for litigants.

Click here to download the Domestic Violence Checklist for litigants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most Common Questions About Domestic Violence

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

Under Florida law, domestic violence means an assault, a battery, certain sexual abuse, a kidnapping, a false imprisonment, committed by one member of a family or household by another person in the same family or household. Generally, any such act is domestic violence if the person committing the act either resides in the same home with the victim or resided in the same home with the victim at sometime in the past. There is an important exception for two people who have a child together. In that case, one of the two people can be guilty of domestic violence against the other even if they never lived together and even if they were never married. The most common types of domestic violence include the following actions:

  1. Assault: An assault occurs when one person threatens to do bodily harm to another person in a way which causes the victim to fear that the first person has the immediate ability to carry out the threat. Examples of an assault include the raising of a fist against another person during an argument in a way which suggest that a striking is about to occur, brandishing a weapon such as a gun or a knife, threatening to hit a person while waiving around a stick or other object which could be used as weapon and throwing an object in the direction of another person even if the other person is not hit with the object.
  2. Battery: A battery occurs when one person intentionally strikes another person against that person’s will. Typical examples of a battery include pushing, slapping, kicking, punching, choking and beating. A battery can also occur when one person throws an object at another person, and the second person is actually struck with the object.
  3. Stalking: Stalking occurs when there is a repeated pattern of actions which serve no legitimate purpose and which cause harassment or repeated annoyance to the victim. Typically, a stalking occurs when one person repeatedly calls the victim by telephone after being told not to do so; repeatedly writes letters to the victim after being told not to do so; leaves notes or gifts for the victim under circumstances in which it should be obvious that such notes or gifts are not wanted or repeatedly visits or passes by the residence or workplace of the victim when the perpetrator has no legitimate reason to be at the home or business. Staking most often occurs when two people have separated following a romantic relationship, and one of the people attempts to resume the relationship against the wishes of the other. It is also important to realize that the law does not treat every argument between two people as domestic violence. For example, if one person threatens another over the telephone, the law generally does not regard that threat as an assault under the domestic violence law because the person making the threat generally has no immediate ability to carry out that threat. If, however, the telephone threats are repeated in a way that forms a pattern of harassment, the telephone threats can become a stalking which could be domestic violence under the law. In any case which there is a question of whether or not the actions of another person constitute domestic violence under Florida law, a person should seek the immediate assistance of a law enforcement officer.

ARE THERE PATTERNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

Domestic Violence is normally not an isolated event. If intervention by some legal means does not occur, domestic violence attends to repeat itself over and over again. In cases of repeated domestic violence, the violent acts also tend to increase in severity as time goes on. There is a characteristic of domestic violence which is known as “the cycle of violence“. In this cycle, a violent act occurs and the parties may separate. After a brief period, the person who committed the act of violence comes to the victim and pleads for forgiveness. The perpetrator may also say that he or she truly loves or has affection for the victim and promises that the violence will not occur in the future. The victim, perhaps wanting to keep a family or household unit intact, then asks the victim to return home. There is then a period of reconciliation which ends with another violent act which occurs when tensions between members of the family arise once again.

 

The cycle of violence is often affected by the consumption of alcoholic beverages or the use of illegal drugs. Victims of domestic violence must often wrestle with fears of fear, loyalty, guilty and shame. If the parties have children, the children also live in fear. Those children can be at a high risk of becoming either abusive adults or victims of domestic violence during their adult lives. Victims of domestic violence may feel that they are socially and financially isolated, and they often live out their lives in fear without being aware that help is available. There are shelters where victims and their children can go to escape violence. There are vocational programs which can provide victims with the skills to obtain employment and there are support groups ready to help with emotional support and understanding. Many local law enforcement agencies have domestic violence advocates as part of their staff, and anyone who may be a victim of domestic violence should contact local law enforcement if they have any questions.

IS THERE HELP AVAILABLE?

Domestic Violence is a Crime. Anyone who is the victim of domestic violence, particularly an assault, a battery, sexual abuse or stalking, should make a report to local law enforcement. If the violent acts in question meet the requirements of law, the person committing the violent acts can be arrested and charged with a crime in connection with the domestic violence. Depending on the severity of the offense, that person can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony and can be subject to imprisonment, probation and/or a fine. If criminal charges are made, the accused person can also be ordered by the criminal court judge to have no contact with the victim until the case is resolved.

 

Injunctions/Restraining Orders. A victim of domestic violence or any person who believes that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence also has the right to ask for a court order known as an “injunction for protection”. This type of injunction is also commonly called a restraining order. Under Florida law, the victim has the right to ask for an injunction for protection by filing a petition with the Clerk of the Court. This can be done by going to any local courthouse. The person seeking the injunction is not required to have an attorney. There will be no filing fee for a petition seeking an injunction for protection against domestic violence.

WHAT TYPES OF PROTECTION DO INJUNCTIONS OFFER?

In Florida, five different types of protective injunctions are available:

 

Domestic Violence - Domestic violence means an assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

Definition of family or household member:  Family or household member means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.  With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in a single dwelling unit.

Who may file a domestic violence injunction:   Any person who is a member of a family or household that is the victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.  Any spouse or former spouse; person related by blood or marriage; person who is or was residing within a single dwelling unit as if a family; or person who has a child in common with the respondent, regardless of whether the person and respondent are or were married or residing together as if a family.  Please note that this is a summary of the statutory definition of who may file.  The Clerk’s Office will not determine filing eligibility; however, the judge reviewing the petition will take these guidelines into consideration.

 

Sexual Violence - Sexual violence means any one incident of: (1) Sexual battery as defined in Chapter 794, Florida Statutes; (2) A lewd or lascivious act as defined in Chapter 800, F.S., committed in the presence of a person younger than 16 years of age; (3) Luring or enticing a child as described in Chapter 787, F.S.; (4) Sexual performance by a child as described in Chapter 827, F.S.; or (5) Any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted, regardless of whether criminal charges based on the incident were filed, reduced, or dismissed by the State Attorney.

Who may file a sexual violence injunction:  Any person who is the victim of sexual violence or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child who is living at home who is the victim of sexual violence if either :  (1) the person has reported the sexual violence to a law enforcement agency and is cooperating in the criminal proceeding if there is one; or (2) the respondent was sent to prison for committing one of the sexual violence crimes against the victim or minor child and the respondent is out of prison or is getting out of prison within 90 days of the petition being filed.  Please note that this is a summary of the statutory definition of who may file.  The Clerk’s Office will not determine filing eligibility; however, the judge reviewing the petition will take these guidelines into consideration.

 

Dating Violence - Dating violence means violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.  The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on consideration of the following factors:  (1) A dating relationship must have existed within the past 6 months; (2) The nature of the relationship must have been characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties; and (3) The frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship must have included that the persons have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.  The term does not include violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who only have engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.

Who may file a dating violence injunction:  Any person who is the victim of dating violence and has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of another act of dating violence, or any person who has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of an act of dating violence, or the parent or legal guardian of any minor child who is living at home and who seeks an injunction for protection against dating violence on behalf of that minor child.  Please note that this is a summary of the statutory definition of who may file.  The Clerk’s Office will not determine filing eligibility; however, the judge reviewing the petition will take these guidelines into consideration.

 

Repeat Violence - Repeat violence means two incidents of violence or stalking committed by the respondent, one of which must have occurred within 6 months of the filing of the petition, which are directed against the petitioner or the petitioner’s family.

Who may file a repeat violence injunction:  Any person who is the victim of repeat violence or the parent or legal guardian of any minor child who is living at home and who seeks an injunction for protection against repeat violence on behalf of the minor child.  Please note that this is a summary of the statutory definition of who may file.  The Clerk’s Office will not determine filing eligibility; however, the judge reviewing the petition will take these guidelines into consideration. 

 

Stalking - Stalking means threats, harassment, cyber stalking, aggravated stalking, physically abusing, and any course of conduct or pattern of conduct directed at the petitioner, family members or individuals close to the petitioner, composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose.  This includes but is not limited to intentionally injuring or killing a family pet; using or threatening to use a weapon such as a gun or knife against the petitioner; or destroying personal property, including but not limited to telephones or other communication equipment, clothing, or other items belonging to the petitioner.

Who may file a stalking injunction:  Any person who is the victim of stalking or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child who is living at home who seeks an injunction for protection against stalking on behalf of the minor child.  Please note that this is a summary of the statutory definition of who may file.  The Clerk’s Office will not determine filing eligibility; however, the judge reviewing the petition will take these guidelines into consideration.

 

HOW DO I KNOW WHICH INJUNCTION I WOULD NEED?

How are all petitions for an injunction for protection alike?

  • The victim is known in court as the petitioner, the other party is the respondent.
  • The petition must be sworn. This means signed in front of a notary or court clerk.
  • The judge may issue a temporary injunction to petitioner before a hearing is held.
  • The temporary injunction stays in effect until a hearing with both parties can be held.
  • The temporary injunction must be served on respondent (usually by the Sheriff).
  • A hearing may still be held even if there is no temporary injunction.
  • The respondent must be given notice of any hearing.
  • Each party may bring witnesses to testify for them at the hearing.
  • The judge may issue a final, or permanent injunction after a hearing with both parties.
  • Unless it is for a certain time, an injunction stays in effect until the court changes it.
  • There are penalties if respondent violates the injunction.

How are they different? 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:
  • Petitioner and respondent must be family or household members who are or were living together in the same, single dwelling unit unless they have a child together.
  • Parents of a child in common do not have to have married or lived together.
  • Petitioner must show that he or she is a victim of domestic violence OR reasonably believes that he or she is in immediate danger of becoming a victim.
  • Protects adults from violence or contact, terms may include children.
  • Petitioner may be allowed to live in shared dwelling while respondent must leave.
  • Respondent may be barred from petitioner’s residence or a shared dwelling.
  • Petitioner may have the children 100% of the time on a temporary basis.
  • Petitioner and/or children may receive support on a temporary basis.
  • A temporary injunction may require respondent to surrender guns and ammunition.
  • A permanent injunction must require respondent to surrender guns and ammunition.
  • Respondent may be ordered to attend a Batterers’ Intervention Program (BIP).
REPEAT VIOLENCE:
  • Requires at least two incidents of violence or stalking by respondent on petitioner or an immediate family member; one must be within past 6 months.
  • Petitioner must fear repeat violence by respondent.
  • Either victim, or parent or guardian of minor child living at home, may file petition.
  • Protects adults and minor children from further violence or contact.
  • Respondent may be ordered to surrender guns and ammunition.
DATING VIOLENCE:
  • Requires a dating relationship within the past 6 months.
  • The relationship must have an expectation of affection, not a casual relationship.
  • Petitioner must show that he or she is a victim of dating violence and has reasonable fear he or she is in immediate danger of become a victim again OR reasonably believes that he or she is in immediate danger of becoming a victim of dating violence.
  • Either victim, or parent or guardian of minor child living at home, may file petition.
  • Protects adults and minor children from further violence or contact.
  • Respondent may be ordered to surrender guns and ammunition.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE:
  • Sexual violence includes: sexual battery; a lewd or lascivious act upon or in presence of a person younger than 16; luring or enticing a child; sexual performance by a child.
  • Petitioner must cooperate with law enforcement after reporting sexual violence.
  • Protects petitioner from respondent who was jailed for the sexual violence against petitioner and whose prison term has expired or is due to expire within 90 day.
  • Either victim, or parent or guardian of minor child living at home, may file petition.
  • Protects adults and minor children from further violence or contact.
  • Respondent may be ordered to surrender guns and ammunition.
STALKING (INCLUDES CYBERSTALKING):
  • Requires at least two incidents of stalking or cyberstalking.
  • Either victim, or parent or guardian of minor child living at home, may file petition.
  • Protects adults and minor children from further stalking or cyberstalking.
  • A temporary injunction may require respondent to surrender guns and ammunition.
  • A permanent injunction must require respondent to surrender guns and ammunition.
  • Respondent may be ordered to get treatment at his or her own expense.

HOW DO I APPLY FOR AN INJUNCTION?

If you are the victim of any act of domestic violence or threats of violence you may ask the Court for a protective order. An Injunction (often referred to as a restraining order) places restrictions on the individual who allegedly committed the acts of violence.

 

There are five different types of Injunctions. They differ according to your relationship with the individual you are filing against. It is important that you file the correct one with the clerk of court, otherwise your Injunction can be denied by the Judge.

 

To file for an injunction please visit the Clerk of Court website: Brevard - or Seminole where:

  1.  The clerk will assist you in the preparation of the required pleadings. Your statement must be brief but specific as the Judge bases his/her decision on the information contained in your statement.  The clerk cannot tell you what to include in your statement or offer any other legal advice.
  2. Upon completion of the required pleadings, the clerk will submit the file to the Judge for consideration.
  3. After reviewing your petition, the Judge will either deny the petition without further hearing, schedule a hearing without issuing a Temporary Injunction, or issue a Temporary Injunction and schedule a hearing to determine whether a Final Judgment should be entered. If the Judge issues a Temporary Injunction or an Order Setting Hearing, you will be able to pick up certified copies of the order in person and MUST have a valid ID to present to the clerk. The Clerk’s Office will provide the appropriate documents to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office for local service upon the Respondent. If the Respondent is located out of state, you are required to provide the Clerk’s office with the law enforcement agency address and payment for service associated with the out of state service of the Respondent.
  4. If a hearing is scheduled, YOU MUST APPEAR AT THE HEARING. The Respondent will be directed to appear at this hearing also. The Judge will take testimony from you and from the Respondent.
  5. If the Respondent commits another act of violence against you or returns to the property after being restrained from doing so, you should call 911. If the Respondent violates any other provisions of the Injunction for Protection, you should go to the Clerk’s Office during regular business hours to file a Motion for Contempt.
  6. In order to support or dispute any claims made in the petition filed with the Court, you may bring any witnesses or evidence you have to the scheduled court hearing. 

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