So How Do You Get A Protective Restraining Order?

Over the last few days Bay area news channels have been inundated with news of the deaths of Largo man Michael Roberts, Tyler Newman, and Taylor Reiterman. (See the story on ABC Action News) Currently the deaths of the three aforementioned individuals and the injuries sustained by Sherry Hice are under investigation from Pinellas County authorities. Focus of several news outlets has been directed to four petitions for restraining order injunctions filed by both Sherry Hice and Tyler Newman on March 18, 2009, reference an alleged incident occurring on March 16, 2009 at 7983 Shadow Run Drive, a home owned by Michael Roberts.

Sherry Hice’s petition alleged that she and Michael Roberts lived together in the home and that Roberts was Hice’s “ex (Sic) boyfriend and roommate.” She alleged that an altercation occurred at Roberts’ home when he saw her on the internet and became angry with her and she further alleged emotional abuse. Hice alleged Roberts’ daughters came to the house and began attacking Hice and her son and eventually Michael Roberts pulled a gun from his back pocket, and ultimately made threats to Sherry Hice.

Subsequent to Sherry Hice’s petition for injunction for protection against domestic violence, Michael Roberts sought the counsel of Jeffrey M. Rich Tampa criminal defense attorneys at law to defend him on this matter. After Ms. Hice filed her petition she was granted the injunction on a temporary level until a final injunction hearing could be heard to determine whether the injunction would be granted on a permanent status. With her grant of the temporary injunction, Ms. Hice was able to maintain possession of the Shadow Run home, owned by Michael Roberts, and could thereby prevent him from staying at or entering his home without police presence. Ultimately, after a final hearing on Sherry Hice’s petition in addition to Tyler Newman’s petition, all petitions were denied.

So what does one have to do in order to get a permanent restraining order against another person? The first step in making this determination is to ask if there is a domestic relationship between the parties. Under Florida Statute 741.30(1)(e) a person can move for a Domestic Violence Injunction if they are a “family or household member.” Under Florida Statute 741.28, 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 the same single dwelling unit.” This family or household member must also prove at the final hearing that they are a victim of domestic violence, which is defined under Florida Statue 741.28 as any 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,” or they have reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence. Essentially, if you are classified as family or a household member under Florida law definition, you must only prove one act of violence at the final hearing in order to have the injunction granted. If you cannot show this by a preponderance of the evidence standard, the petition for injunction will rightfully be denied as the facts applied to law do not meet the necessary threshold.

So what if you are not a family or household member? Under Florida Statute 784.046 there is a restraining order for repeat violence, dating violence, and sexual violence. Using the Michael Roberts incident as an example, Tyler Newman would have had to have shown two acts of violence or stalking within 6 months of the filing of his petition for repeat violence injunction, assuming he could not develop the necessary standards for a petition for domestic violence. Under Florida Statute 784.046 an act of violence is defined as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, or false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death, by a person against any other person.” Though the eventual outcome of Mr. Newman’s efforts are a tragedy, at the hearing he could not produce the necessary evidence to warrant granting of his petition.

Permanent injunction hearings can be performed with or without the aid of a criminal attorney. The petitioner bears the burden of showing the necessary requirements by a preponderance of the evidence in order to get their temporary injunction granted on a permanent status. During a hearing the judge must hear testimony from the petitioner and then that petitioner can be cross examined by the respondent or respondent’s attorney, followed by testimony from the respondent and subsequent cross examination from the petitioner. Upon hearing all the testimony elicited at the hearing, the judge must determine whether the requirements of the respective injunction have been shown by a preponderance of the evidence. If the determination is that petitioner has shown cause for the injunction, it will be granted. If they have not, the judge is bound by law to deny the effort of the petitioner.

With respect to the Michael Roberts injunction, after thorough investigation by the Judge, testimony from the petitioner, and cross examination, there just wasn’t the requisite evidence for the Judge to grant Ms. Hice and Mr. Newman’s injunctions sought against Michael Roberts and Caroline Roberts. Unfortunately due to the nature of restraining orders, there is always a possibility of eventual tragedy. If you or a loved one are in need of an injunction against someone, or need an Tampa or Pinellas County criminal attorney to help you defend against a petition for injunction against you, it is imperative to hire an attorney well versed in restraining order procedure and law. Contact the criminal lawyers at The Law Office of Jeffrey M. Rich, serving the Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Polk County areas, today for your free consultation about your restraining order needs at 813-251-3330.

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