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How Long Do Restraining Orders Last in Florida? A Guide

When your safety is at stake, knowledge is power. If you’re wondering, “How long do restraining orders last in Florida?” our guide discusses comprehensive aspects of restraining orders, including how long they last, what a restraining order is, the types of restraining orders, and when a restraining order starts.

Understanding Restraining Orders in Florida

A restraining order in Florida, also known as an injunction for protection, provides those in danger with legal protections by restricting a person’s activities and locations to keep them safe from harm. 

Details of the limitations typically placed on the person (the respondent) include barring them from going to your (the petitioner) home, work, and potentially other places you frequent, such as a college or family member’s home. The court order will also bar them from contacting you by phone, electronic communications, and even third-party contact on their behalf. 

When you are trying to understand how long restraining orders last in Florida, know that there are two different types of durations: 

(1) Injunctions that are intended to provide quick protection that lasts for a shorter period of time; and 

(2) Injunctions that are put in place to provide long-term protection over an extended period of time.  

Legal Framework Governing Restraining Orders

Comprehensive laws and rules that regulate, administer, and enforce restraining orders are in place. Here are the most important Florida laws you should be aware of:

Florida Statutes Section 741.28 defines domestic violence as: “Assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense that results in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”

Florida Statute 741.30 establishes the cause of action for an injunction for protection against domestic violence. 741.31 makes the violation of a domestic violence injunction a crime. Florida Statute 784.046 establishes the cause of action for a protective injunction by a victim of repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence. Florida Statute 784.0485(1) establishes a cause of action for an injunction against stalking.

5 Types of Restraining Orders in Florida

When seeking out a restraining order, it is necessary to determine which type is representative of your circumstances. There are five types of restraining orders in Florida. 

1. Domestic Violence: the petitioner and respondent must live with or previously have lived with each other in a family relationship or have a child together, including spouses, former spouses, and intimate partners. Domestic violence includes one or more offenses listed in 741.28 that constitute physical, emotional, and psychological abuse.

2. Repeat Violence: the petitioner and respondent are not spouses, former spouses,  intimate partners, or people who have had a child together. There must be at least two incidents of violence or stalking - with at least one having occurred in the previous six months.  

3. Sexual Violence: the petitioner must be a victim of sexual violence, including any forcible felony where a sexual act is committed or attempted, sexual battery, luring or enticing a child; a lewd or lascivious act committed in the presence of or upon a person younger than 16 years old; or a sexual performance by a child.

4. Dating Violence: the petitioner and respondent are in a continuing and significant relationship of an intimate or romantic nature (or were in this type of relationship within the past six months). Physical violence, emotional abuse, and psychological abuse constitute dating violence.

5. Stalking: the petitioner must be a victim of stalking, defined in Florida as, “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person.” Fla. Sta. 784.048 If these actions become threatening, such as expressing an intent to harm or threatening someone’s life, this would be classified as “aggravated stalking.”

In situations involving children who are victims of repeat violence, sexual violence, or stalking, an adult who is the parent or legal guardian of a child living at home can apply for a restraining order on their behalf.

Duration of Restraining Orders in Florida

When discussing how long restraining orders last in Florida, knowing there are two categories is essential:

Temporary (ex parté) injunction: a short-term court order designed to provide the petitioner (and their children) immediate protection from the abuser/respondent. Final (permanent) injunction: a long-term court order designed to provide the petitioner (and their children) protection over an extended period of time from the abuser/respondent.

How Long Do Domestic Violence Restraining Orders Last?

The answer to this question will depend on the details included in the court order.

Domestic violence situations are complicated, most often involving a cycle of abuse. Physical, emotional, and psychological abuse often escalate, becoming more threatening, coercive, and violent. There are also children in the home in many situations involving domestic violence. All family members are affected.

The courts are very serious about protecting those in harm’s way. Domestic violence restraining orders are issued first for emergencies and then to provide long-term protection. They can last years to safeguard families' health and well-being if necessary. 

How Long Do Permanent Restraining Orders Last?

The Florida courts determine the length of a permanent restraining order on a case-by-case basis. Here is how it is determined:

  • When a temporary restraining order is granted, a hearing is scheduled for the permanent order.
  • If a permanent restraining order or injunction is granted, the judge will determine the length of the order based on the evidence and testimony. The duration could be a year, two, or more and may include an intended expiration date. In some cases, it may not include an expiration date at all. The restraining order is then legally permanent. However, if there is no expiration date, the petitioner or the respondent has the right to file a modification or file to dissolve it at any time. The judge will decide whether or not to grant the request.
  • Permanent restraining orders are much longer than temporary/emergency restraining orders.

How Long is a Temporary Restraining Order?

A temporary injunction lasts about two weeks. If the petitioner’s application is approved, a final injunction hearing will occur within 15 days. In certain circumstances, a judge may issue a continuance for “good cause” that extends the time the temporary injunction is valid until the hearing for the final injunction convenes. 

A temporary restraining order is a short-term injunction, which may or may not end in a long-term permanent injunction.

Timing Factors of Restraining Orders in Florida

The legal system provides for strong protections in the form of restraining orders, aka injunctions. There are certain requirements and processes to understand, but knowing how the timing aspects work out in real life is vital.

When Does a Restraining Order Start?

A restraining order officially starts when the injunction paperwork, commonly known as “served,” is presented to the respondent by the Sherriff’s Office.

How Quickly Can You Get a Restraining Order?

After the application is submitted to the Clerk of Court, it is typically quickly approved if deemed to have merit, and often in a matter of hours. Once the restraining order is approved, the courts will send the injunction paperwork to the Sheriff’s Office in the county where the respondent resides or can be located. 

The Sheriff’s Office will then “serve” the respondent, typically during regular working hours, either at the respondent’s work or home or at another location where the respondent may be. If the respondent is out of state, the injunction paperwork will be sent to the respondent’s local county sheriff’s office for service. 

From application to activation of a restraining order, it may be completed within 24 hours or take a few days, depending on the time it takes to locate and serve the respondent.

Renewing or Extending a Restraining Order in Florida

When a permanent restraining order expires, it can be renewed or extended. The circumstances in which an order can be renewed or extended include ongoing issues with harassment and/or abusive behavior. Evidence should be gathered to obtain a successful renewal or extension.

Conditions for Renewal or Extension of a Restraining Order

Florida Statute 741.30 allows an injunction to be modified at any time if the court rules on a filing due to changes or ongoing danger of harm. 

Examples of scenarios when a restraining order would be applicable to renew:

  • An ex-spouse is continuing to threaten violence.
  • A spouse has attempted to or has violated the restraining order through verbal harassment or threatened or actual physical abuse.
  • An intimate partner with whom you have a child has threatened you with violence or attempted to commit violence and/or threatened to take away or harm your child.

How to Apply for Renewal or Extension of a Restraining Order

  • First, the petitioner must file a Motion for Modification of Injunction with the same county court from the initial order. It must be completed before the first one expires (or will probably have to start over with the injunction process). 
  • Next, a copy of the Motion for Modification of Injunction must be served to all parties involved. 
  • The court will then set a date for the hearing. Strong, compelling evidence should be gathered and presented to approve the modification. Florida Department of Children and Families is an excellent resource to find domestic violence centers and other local organizations for support.

A criminal defense attorney can help build and present a strong case for renewal or extension.

Actions to Take if a Restraining Order is Violated

Contact 911 immediately if a restraining order has been violated and/or you feel you or your loved ones are in danger. Tell them you have an injunction for protection. It is always advisable to always keep a copy of the injunction with you.

Legal Consequences for Violating a Restraining Order

The legal implications for individuals who violate a restraining order in Florida include:

  • Up to one year in jail;
  • 12 months of probation; and
  • Up to $1,000 fine.

Reporting Violations of a Restraining Order

Violations should be reported promptly. Call 911 if you are in immediate danger. If the restraining order is violated, but the abuser is not arrested, you can report the violation to the County Clerk’s office where the violation occurred, which may be a different courthouse than the one that gave you the restraining order. 

A petition can then be filed to enforce the injunction, and your sworn statement is sent to the state attorney’s office and law enforcement for the next steps. 

Work With a Restraining Order Attorney in St. Petersburg

When you or your children’s safety is at risk, a restraining order provides strong legal protection from harm. 

Understanding all aspects of restraining orders in Florida, especially their duration, is crucial. With this information, you can proceed with the next steps to keep yourself and your family safe. If you are in a situation where you need a restraining order in Pinellas County, FL, seek professional help as soon as possible.  The restraining order attorneys at The Denson Firm have experience with restraining orders and can help. All it takes is a call or message to get the help you need. Contact us today or schedule a free phone consultation

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