No one, not even someone you live with, has the right to beat you or threaten you with violence. If this is happening to you, YOU CAN TAKE ACTION. Knowing your legal rights and other options is the first step toward ending the abuse.
THERE IS A LAW TO PROTECT YOU FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!
The law protects you if you are being abused or threatened by your spouse, former spouse, or another family or household member who IS or WAS living in the same household as you. The law protects you from abuse by a person with whom you have a child in common. You need not be married to the abuser or related to be protected under the law.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?
If you are the victim of domestic violence, you may ask the state attorney to file a criminal complaint. The Hernando County Division of the State Attorney's Office telephone number is (352) 754-4255. They have a counselor to help you through the court system. You also have the right to go to court and file a petition requesting an injunction for protection from domestic violence through the Clerk of Court at (352) 754-4201. The injunction for protection may include, but need not be limited to provisions which restrain the abuser from further acts of abuse; direct the abuser to leave your household; prevent the abuser from entering your residence, school, business, or place of employment; award you the custody of minor child or children; and direct the abuser to pay support to you and the minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so.
CAN THIS LAW HELP?
Yes...if this individual has abused you physically or sexually, or if you have good reason to fear that this person is about to be violent toward you. This special law in Florida enables you to get a judge to ORDER the abuse to STOP.
The paper that starts this process is called a petition for injunction for protection against domestic violence. This explains to the judge whom you need protection from and exactly what protection you need. You can ask for help even if you cannot afford to pay court fees. The court clerk will help you in filling out the proper forms. You can contact the Clerk's Office at (352) 754-4201 or the local spouse abuse center at (352) 799-0657 for guidance through the court process. If you have left your home to avoid being abused, you can still file a petition.
WHAT CAN THE JUDGE DO FOR ME?
After you file your petition, the judge can sign a Temporary or Permanent Injunction, or both. Either type of injunction or order will tell the abuser that he/she may not be violent toward you. A temporary injunction can be obtained on the same day you file your petition, without a hearing and without the abuser knowing first. A temporary injunction lasts for a stated period of time not to exceed 30 days and is given to you by the judge when you are in immediate danger of being hurt. Keep this injunction with you at all times. It is enforceable throughout the state of Florida.
A permanent injunction can go into effect later. This injunction is for a stated period of time not to exceed one (1) year from the date of the hearing unless extended by the court. The judge may want to hold a hearing before signing the permanent injunction.
WHAT DOES THE INJUNCTION DO?
Some things the judge MAY order in the injunction are:
- That the abuser not commit any acts of violence against you, your children, or others living with you
- That the abuser immediately leave the home you share
- That the abuser stay away from your home if you are not living together
- That you have temporary custody of any children you and the abuser have together
- That the abuser go to counseling
The judge can order other help depending upon the circumstances. This is why the contents of the petition and your attendance at all hearings is so important - so that you can tell the judge what you need and why you need it.
WHAT IF THE ABUSE OR THREATS HAPPEN AGAIN?
A person who refuses to follow a judge's order can be put in jail. If the abuser disobeys the judge's order, contact the Brooksville Police at (352) 754-6800 or the Sheriff's Office at (352) 754-6830. If it is an emergency or if you are being threatened, please call 9-1-1. Be prepared to show the responding law enforcement officers the certified copy of the injunction for protection. In some cases, the officer will arrest the abuser. You can also ask the judge to hold the abuser responsible for not following the judge's order.
If the abuser violates the injunction for protection by touching, striking or threatening you, he/she may also be prosecuted by the State Attorney's Office. Call the Police Department or the Sheriff's Office to report the incident. Then call the State Attorney's Office at (352) 754-4255 for information on how to proceed.
WHAT IF I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?
Getting help 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 nearest you.
In Hernando County contact:
The Dawn Center Hotline at (352) 686-8430
or general office number at (352) 686-8759
or visit their website at www.TheDawnCenter.com
Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119 or TDD (800) 621-4202