Domestic violence victims have long wished for support from the legal system to protect their pets when they seek help from the court to escape their abusers. Most domestic violence shelters don’t allow pets, and a significant number of victims return to abusive situations out of fear for their pets.
Many bills have been proposed throughout the years to address this issue. Finally, voters won a recent victory on behalf of furry friends. On June 18, 2020, Gov. Ron Desantis signed Senate Bill 1082 into law, making Florida one of more than 30 states that allow judges to include protections for pets into injunctions against domestic abusers. There is now official protection for the pets of domestic violence victims seeking injunctions.
What’s in Senate Bill 1082 (SB 1082)?
SB 1082 allows judges to include pets in restraining orders against abusers and allows for them to stay with their owners. The law went into effect on July 1, 2020, and received strong support from the ASPCA. In a statement issued as a response to the passage of the bill, they said:
“With this new law, Florida joins more than 30 other states that have enacted meaningful public policies to safeguard both humans and pets from violence in the home.”
According to their research, 25% of domestic violence survivors have reported returning to an abusive partner because they were worried about their pet’s wellbeing. In a survey by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71% of survivors reported that their partners had openly or implicitly threatened to hurt the family pet. More than half of women who entered domestic abuse shelters who owned pets claimed that their abusers threatened, harmed, or killed their pets.
This bill makes it so that both humans and pets can safely leave a dangerous home, and abuse victims will no longer need to choose between watching out for their own safety or that of their companions when attempting to flee.
There are 5 Types of Domestic Violence Injunctions in Florida
Domestic violence manifests in several different ways. People who are at risk of harm may seek an order of protection from their count’s clerk of court office. In Florida, there are 5 types of injunctions a person can seek that address violence:
- Domestic Violence
- Dating Violence
- Repeat Violence
- Sexual Violence
- Stalking Violence
What Can an Injunction Do to Protect Me and My Pets?
The point of a protective order is to have a legal document that seeks to prevent a person from doing something specific to the person filing it. In the case of domestic violence, these orders seek to stop the abuser from harming the victim. Violating the terms of an injunction could lead to first-degree misdemeanor charges for the respondent — or the person against whom the order protects the petitioner (the domestic violence victim).
Obtaining an injunction begins with filing a Petition for Protection Against Domestic Violence in your county. You may file in the county where:
- You live
- The respondent lives
- The abuse occurred
Injunctions for protection in Florida could:
- Stop a person from continuing to hurt you or your children or pets legally
- Give you full use of your home if you currently share a home with your abuser
- Include an order for your abuser to stay 500 feet away from the places you usually spend time in, such as your home, workplace, or places where you shop
- Ban communication between your abuser and your family
- Require your abuser to attend counseling
- Call for you and your abuser to establish a parenting plan if you share minor children
- Provide for your abuser to give you 6 months of child support
These are just some of the provisions that may be possible in your injunction for protection.
What Can I Do if I Have an Injunction Against Me?
Having an injunction against you could cost you in several ways, even though merely having the injunction is not a crime. It’s typically in your best interests to have an order of protection against you removed. These are public records, meaning that anyone who looks into it can find the injunction, including employers. The injunction could strain the relationships you currently enjoy with your friends and family members and cause trouble down the road.
The sooner you address an injunction against you, the better your chance will be of having it lifted. You may appeal an injunction in Florida, even if it’s expired. Working with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help you achieve the best possible outcome when appealing a domestic violence injunction.
Talk to a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach
Attorney Brian P. Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel has more than 25 years of experience representing people accused of domestic violence in West Palm Beach. He understands just how important it is to have an injunction against you cleared to protect your reputation and your rights. Contact our firm for a free consultation or call (561) 622-5575 to learn what steps you should take after discovering an injunction against you.