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DV Injunctions Against Law Enforcement Officers 

For law enforcement officers and civilian employees of law enforcement agencies in Florida, an allegation of domestic violence through an injunction, temporary restraining order or court-issued protective order will face serious and immediate consequences to their employment.

It is important to remember that any law enforcement officer or employee of a law enforcement agency who is served with a domestic violence injunction issued under Section 741.30, Florida Statutes, must refrain from possessing firearms and/or ammunition. The employee must also refrain from entering any vehicle or dwelling where the member or employee knows or should know that a firearm or ammunition is present.

The final injunction order, if granted in the case, must provide that it is a violation of §790.233, Florida Statutes, and a first degree misdemeanor, for the respondent to have in his or her care, custody, possession or control any firearm or ammunition. §741.30(6)(g); §790.233(1), Florida Statutes; 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(9). Fla. Stat. §741.31(4)(b)(2).

The Florida legislature has recognized that the disabilities regarding possession of firearms and ammunition are consistent with federal law. 18 U.S.C. §925 provides for the “official use” exemption for law enforcement officers and military personnel. Despite the fact that certain exceptions apply for law enforcement officers and members of the military, the entry of a final injunction order might be a career-ending event for the law enforcement officer. 

Under § 790.233(3), Fla. Stat., law enforcement officers, as defined by F.S. §943.10(14), may keep their service weapons while on official duty unless otherwise prohibited by the employing law enforcement agency. Most law enforcement agencies have strict policies and procedures that apply immediately when an injunction is served.


Attorneys for Officer-Related Domestic Violence Allegations

If you are a law enforcement officer or a civil employee of a law enforcement agency served with a petition for an injunction or protective order against domestic violence, repeat violence, dating violence or sexual violence, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, protect law enforcement officers and civilian employees against false or exaggerated allegations of domestic violence.  

Our attorneys can help you understand the most effective ways to fight a false or exaggerated accusation in Tampa or Plant City in Hillsborough County or any of the surrounding areas in the greater Tampa Bay area including Hernando County, Pinellas County, Manatee County, or Polk County, Florida. Call 813-250-0500 for a free and completely confidential consultation.


Consequences of Domestic Violence Allegations Against Law Enforcement Officers

Allegations of domestic violence against law enforcement officers create several unique problems that must be addressed immediately by the agencies that employ these officers. First, the victim’s fear of a perpetrator may make the victim (whether civilian or another officer) afraid to cooperate with the responding officers. A legitimate victim of domestic violence might fear that the perpetrator’s status as an officer may mean that the officer will not be held accountable for his or her actions. 

Secondly, a law enforcement officer faces significant stressors involved in the performance of the duties. Finally, the law enforcement officer must carry a firearm to perform the job and the possession of a firearm is prohibited while a protective order injunction is in place.   


FHP Policies under 5.05 Revised on 12/17/15

Each local, state and federal law enforcement agency in Florida has its own procedures for dealing with accusations of domestic violence against an employee of the agency including for law enforcement officers and civilian employees. 

For example, the Florida Highway Patrol Policy Manual contains a prohibition against possessing a firearm after certain types of allegations of domestic violence under policy 5.05 which was issued on 02/01/96 and last revised on 12/17/15. Also, the policy manual for procedures related to the investigation of incidents of Domestic Violence, including those involving employees, can be found in FHP Policy 22.09 and DHSMV Policy # 6.06.

The policy manual provides for the following policy related to domestic violence. For officers charged with domestic violence under DHSMV Policy # 5.05, the policy applies to any FHP employee who has a domestic violence injunction placed against them. The policy implements procedures to ensure that employees comply with state and federal statutes which relate to domestic violence injunctions. 

The policy states the Florida Highway Patrol's position as an employer on the firearm prohibition provisions of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and Chapter 98-284, Florida Laws.


Firearm Restrictions for FHP Officers with Domestic Violence Allegations 

Under Chapter 741, Florida Statutes, Section 790.233, Florida Statutes, Florida Highway Patrol recognizes that domestic violence is a serious issue that is present at all levels of society; that court-ordered injunctions to protect victims of domestic violence from further abuse must be enforced to be effective; and that the availability of firearms must be restricted to ensure the safety of the victims.

The Florida Highway Patrol, as a law enforcement agency, reserves the right to:

  • review any domestic violence injunction served on the employee; 
  • implement procedures to restrict the availability of firearms and ammunition by such employee;
  • reassign a member to administrative duties; and 
  • conduct an administrative investigation of any incident(s) that led to the filing of the injunction.

Definitions Related to Domestic Violence in Florida 

Under Florida law, the term “ammunition” is defined to include ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm (18 USC, Section 921(17)). 

The term firearm is defined to include “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm (18 USC, Section 921(3)).”

The term “possession” is defined for purposes of FHP policy to mean the presence of a firearm or ammunition on or about an employee’s person, within a vehicle occupied by the employee or in any dwelling occupied by the employee provided the employee knew or should have known that the firearm or ammunition was present. Any property/dwelling owned or leased by a law enforcement officer shall be considered to have a firearm and/or ammunition present.


What LEOs Should Do After Receiving a Domestic Violence Injunction 

Any employee of a law enforcement agency who becomes the subject of a domestic violence restraining order or injunction should notify their Commander or Supervisor and provide that person with a copy of the injunction immediately upon being served with such an injunction. 

The Commander or Supervisor will immediately to the following: 

  • notify his/her respective Supervisor or Chief; 
  • forward a copy of the injunction to the Supervisor or Chief via email (or via fax when emailing is not practical); and 
  • initiate a supervisory inquiry into the events that led to the injunction being filed. 

In the Florida Highway Patrol, the Chief will provide a copy of the restraining order or injunction to the Office of General Counsel and shall consult with the Deputy Director and the Office of Professional Compliance as to whether an administrative investigation should be conducted.


The Agency’s Response to a Domestic Violence Restraining Order or Injunction 

If a domestic violence restraining order or injunction is filed against one of its employees, then based on the circumstances that led to an employee becoming the subject of a domestic violence restraining order, the employee may be placed on administrative duties.

Upon a determination that a final injunction was issued,  the employee will be informed of such determination and placed on administrative duties. Employees who are the subject of a domestic violence injunction will not be assigned to alternate duties.

When placing an employee on administrative duties, the agency will complete a letter informing the employee of the availability of the resources within the agency to assist the employee and placing the following immediate restrictions upon the employee:

  1. The employee is to surrender all firearms and ammunition in his/her possession to a supervisor for safe keeping;
  2. All authorizations to carry off-duty or secondary weapons are revoked;
  3. All authorizations to work off-duty police employment are revoked;
  4. Should the employee separate from employment with the agency, then the employee must make arrangements to have any personally owned firearms and ammunition picked up or the items will be turned over to the Sheriff of the county in which the employee was last assigned.

Additional Resources

Model Policy on Officer-Involved Domestic Violence in Florida - Created by the Law Enforcement Families Partnership (LEFP), a collaboration based in the Family Violence Studies Institute at Florida State University in 2010. LEAP  works to normalize officers’ asking for help with family relationships and job stress. The organization collaborates with private and public organizations to reduce officer-involved domestic violence in Florida. LEFP helps officers recognize the warning signs of work-related trauma and abuses of power.  You can direct questions about the Model Policy can be directed to:

LEFP
Institute for Family Violence Studies
Florida State University College of Social Work
Website: http://familyvio.csw.fsu.edu/LEF/
Phone: 850-644-6303
Fax: 850-644-8331 

Domestic Violence Accusations Against a LEO - Visit the website of the Law Enforcement Families Partnership to find reports and publications including the LEF Brochure: A Prevention Curriculum Brochure for Officer-Involved Domestic Violence (pdf).

Batterers with Badges: Officer-Involved Domestic Violence - This article by Jennifer Ammons from California Western School of Law was included in the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence 2005 Law Student Writing Competition. The article discusses the unique challenges for victims of domestic violence committed by law enforcement officers including: the officer’s specialized training, the fact that the officer carries a firearm and other weapons, ability to hurt the victim in a way unlikely to leave behind a mark, and the fact that officers often work long hours during odd shifts and suffer sleep deprivation while working in a high-pressure job. 


Attorney for Law Enforcement Officers Served with a DV Injunction

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to learn more about Florida gun laws related to domestic violence allegations and convictions. We represent law enforcement officers and civilian employees after a false or exaggerated allegation of domestic violence, stalking, or dating violence.

Call 813-250-0500 today for a free and confidential consultation.


This article was last updated on Friday, February 24, 2017.