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Stalking Injunctions for Protection

If you were served with a "Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Stalking" under Florida Statute Section 784.0485, and wish to contest the allegations, then call an experienced attorney in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, at the Sammis Law Firm.

Our attorneys are experienced in representing respondents who wish to contest false or exaggerated allegations of stalking. We help our clients show that the allegations are unfounded so that the judge does not grant the final injunction. 

Keep in mind that injunction hearings are quasi-criminal proceedings that come with serious consequences that last a lifetime. Don't face the judge alone. Call us to discuss your best defense against unfounded allegations of stalking and the request for an injunction for protection (often called a "restraining order.")

Our attorneys represent the respondents at these hearings for injunctions for protection against stalking in the courthouses in Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, FL. We also represent clients in Pasco County, Pinellas County, and Hernando County, FL.

Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case today.


Temporary Injunction for Stalking in Hillsborough County, FL

Since the temporary injunction for protection against stalking was issued without notice to the Respondent, the Petitioner and Respondent are instructed to appear and testify at a hearing on the matter (called the "return hearing".) The return hearing is usually scheduled within a matter of weeks.

Because it also takes time for the Respondent to be served with the temporary injunction, the respondent may only have a few days to prepare for the return hearing. The purpose of the return hearing is for the judge to decide whether or not to issue a final injunction.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm deal with this issue by filing a motion to continue the hearing and serving the petitioner with a notice that we want to take the Petitioner's deposition a week later. Then at the return hearing, we tell the judge that we served the petitioner with the subpoena for the deposition scheduled one week out and ask for a continuance until after the deposition.

If good grounds for the request exist, the judge will then continue the temporary injunction a few weeks until the continued return hearing giving the Respondent time to prepare for the hearing. The return hearings in Hillsborough County, FL, can be heard at the courthouse in Tampa or Plant City.

  • DIV G - Edgecomb Courthouse, Courtroom 302, 800 E. Twiggs St., Tampa, FL 33602
  • DIV H - Edgecomb Courthouse, Courtroom 303, 800 E. Twiggs St., Tampa, FL 33602
  • DIV S - Plant City Courthouse - Courtroom 1, 301 Michigan Avenue, Plant City, FL 33563
  • DIV V - Plant City Courthouse - Courtroom 3, 301 Michigan Avenue, Plant City, FL 33563

Form 12.980(t) - Petitions for Protection Injunction against Stalking

The Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.980(t), Petition for Injunction for Protection against Stalking was approved in May of 2013. Section 4 of the form reads:

Petitioner is a victim of stalking because Respondent has:
{please mark all sections that apply}

a. ____ Committed stalking;
b._____Previously threatened, harassed, stalked, cyberstalked, or physically abused the Petitioner;
c._____Threatened to harm Petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with Petitioner;
d.____ Intentionally injured or killed a family pet;
e.____ Used, or threatened to use, against Petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives;
f._____A criminal history involving violence or the threat or violence, if known;
g.____ Another order of protection issued against him or her previously from another jurisdiction, if known;
h.____ Destroyed personal property, including, but not limited to, telephones or other communication equipment, clothing, or other items belonging to Petitioner.


Description of Stalking and Cyberstalking Incidents

Under Florida law, Section 5 calls for a description of the specific incidents of stalking or cyberstalking. The form directs the petitioner with allegations of cyberstalking to "please include a description of all evidence of contacts and/or threats made by Respondent in voice messages, texts, emails, or other electronic communication."

The form also provides a space for the petitioner to list the date and describe incidents of stalking and the location in which the stalking incidents occurred. The form notes that the locations may include, but need not be limited to, a home, school, or place of employment.


Who Has Standing for a Stalking Injunction for Protection?

The court may not issue mutual orders of protection; however, the court is not precluded from issuing separate injunctions for protection against stalking. §784.0485(1)(e), Florida Statutes.

The fact that a separate order of protection is granted to each opposing party is not legally sufficient to deny any remedy to either party or to prove that the parties are equally at fault or equally endangered. §784.0485(6)(d), Florida Statutes.

The injunction for protection may be sought regardless of whether any other cause of action is currently pending between the parties and may be sought by any affected person. §784.0485(1)(b-c), Florida Statutes.


Filing a Stalking Injunction on Behalf of a Child

A person who is the victim of stalking or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child who is living at home who seeks an injunction for protection against stalking on be half of the minor child has standing in the circuit court to file a sworn petition for an injunction for protection against stalking. §784.0485(1)(a), Florida Statutes.


Venue in a Stalking Injunction for Protection Case - What County Should Hear the Case?

A petition for an injunction for protection against stalking may be filed in the circuit where the petitioner currently or temporarily resides, where the respondent resides, or where the stalking occurred. There is no minimum requirement of residency to petition for an injunction for protection. §784.0485(1)(f), Florida Statutes.


Definitions Used in Stalking Injunction for Protection Hearings

The criminal charge of stalking is an allegation that a person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed, harassed, or cyberstalked another person. Stalking is a misdemeanor of the first degree under Florida Statute §784.048(2).

The crime of stalking is elevated to a third degree felony for aggravated stalking if the person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses or cyberstalks another person, also makes a credible threat to that person. Aggravated Stalking is a felony of the third degree under Florida Statute §784.048(3).

“Cyberstalk” means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose. §784.048(1)(a-d), Florida Statutes.

“Harass” means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose. “[T]he statutory definition of ‘domestic violence’ requires some showing of violence or a threat of violence[,] general harassment does not suffice.” Young v. Smith, 901 So.2d 372, 373 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005).

“Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose.

“Credible threat” means a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two, including threats delivered by electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the person, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm. It is not necessary to prove that the person making the threat has the intent to actually carry out the threat. The present incarceration of the person making the threat is not a bar to prosecution.


The Return Hearing in a Stalking Injunction for Protection Case

The court shall set a hearing to be held at the earliest possible time. The respondent shall be personally served with a copy of the petition, notice of hearing, and temporary injunction, if any, before the hearing under Florida Statute §784.0485(4).

The ex parte temporary injunction is effective for a fixed period not to exceed 15 days. A full hearing shall be set for a date no later than the date when the temporary injunction ceases to be effective.

The court may grant a continuance of the hearing before or during a hearing for good cause shown by any party, which shall include a continuance to obtain service of process. An injunction shall be extended if necessary to remain in full force and effect during any period of continuance under Florida Statute §784.0485(5)(c).


The Respondent Must be Served with the Stalking Injunction for Protection

If an injunction is issued and the petitioner requests the assistance of a law enforcement agency, the court may order that an officer from the appropriate law enforcement agency accompany the petitioner to assist in the execution or service of the injunction.

A law enforcement officer shall accept a copy of an injunction for protection against stalking, certified by the clerk of the court, from the petitioner and immediately serve it upon a respondent who has been located but not yet served under Florida Statute §784.048(8)(a)(2).


What Happens if the Judge Issues a Stalking Temporary Injunction for Protection?

If it appears to the court that stalking exists, the court may grant a temporary injunction ex parte, pending a full hearing, and may grant such relief as the court deems proper, including an injunction restraining the respondent from committing any act of stalking under Florida Statute §784.0485(5)(a).

Evidence other than verified pleadings or affidavits may not be used as evidence, unless the respondent appears at the hearing or has received reasonable notice of the hearing.


What Relief the Court Can Grant in the Temporary Injunction?

The court has wide discretion in granting relief in a temporary injunction including any relief the court deems proper. Under Florida Statute §784.0485(6)(a), the court can order such other relief as the court deems necessary for the protection of a victim of stalking, including injunctions or directives to law enforcement agencies. Relief can include:

  • Restraining the respondent from committing any act of stalking;
  • Ordering the respondent to participate in treatment, intervention, or counseling services to be paid for by the respondent;
  • Referring a petitioner to appropriate services; and
  • The court may provide the petitioner with a list of certified domestic violence centers, certified rape crisis centers, and other appropriate referrals in the circuit which the petitioner may contact.

Terminating or Modifying the Injunction for Protection against Stalking

The terms of the injunction for protection will remain in effect until modified or dissolved. Either the petitioner or respondent can move at any time to modify or dissolve the injunction under Florida Statute §784.0485(6)(b).


Terms of the Stalking Injunction for Protection

A temporary or final judgment on injunction for protection against stalking will indicate on its face the following terms:

  • The injunction is valid and enforceable in all counties of this state.
  • Law enforcement officers may use their arrest powers to enforce the terms of the injunction.
  • The court has jurisdiction over the parties and matter under the laws of this state and that reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard was given to the person against whom the order is sought sufficient to protect that person's right to due process.
  • The date that the respondent was served with the temporary or final order, if obtainable under Florida Statute §784.0485(6)(c).

Prohibition Against Possession of a Firearm after an Order of Protection

A final judgment on an injunction for protection against stalking must, on its face, provide that it is a violation of §790.233 and a misdemeanor of the first degree for the respondent to have in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm or ammunition. §784.0485(6)(e), Florida Statutes.

A person may not have in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm or ammunition if the person has been issued a final injunction that is currently in force and effect, restraining that person from committing acts of domestic violence, or from committing acts of stalking or cyberstalking or they commit a misdemeanor of the first degree. §790.233(1-2), Florida Statutes.


Hearing for a Final Injunction in Stalking Cases

The sentencing court shall consider, as a part of any sentence, issuing an order restraining the defendant from any contact with the victim, which may be valid for up to 10 years, as determined by the court.

The intention of the Florida Legislature was that the length of any such order be based upon the seriousness of the facts before the court, the probability of future violations by the perpetrator, and the safety of the victim and his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the victim. See Florida Statute §784.048(9)(a).


What Happens after a Violation of the Stalking Injunction for Injunction?

The court may enforce a violation of an injunction through a civil or criminal contempt proceeding, or the state attorney may prosecute it as a criminal violation. §784.048(9)(a), Florida Statutes.

If the respondent is arrested by a law enforcement officer for a violation, the respondent shall be held in custody until brought before the court as expeditiously as possible for the purpose of enforcing the injunction and for admittance to bail pending a hearing. §784.048(9)(b), Florida Statutes.


First Degree Misdemeanor for Violation of Stalking Injunction

A person who willfully violates an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking or a foreign protection order accorded full faith and credit commits a misdemeanor of the first degree by:

  • Going to, or being within 500 feet of, the petitioner's residence, school, place of employment, or a specified place frequented regularly by the petitioner and any named family members or individuals closely asso ciated with the petitioner;
  • Committing an act of stalking against the petitioner;
  • Committing any other violation of the injunction through an intentional unlawful threat, word, or act to do violence to the petitioner;
  • Telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner, directly or indirectly, unless the injunction specifically allows indirect contact through a third party;
  • Knowingly and intentionally coming within 100 feet of the petitioner's motor vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is occupied;
  • Defacing or destroying the petitioner's personal property, including the petitioner's motor vehicle; or
  • Refusing to surrender firearms or ammunition if ordered to do so by the court. §784.0487(4)(a-g), Florida Statutes.

Third Degree Felony for Violation for Stalking Injunction

Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person, and makes a credible threat to that person with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury of the person, or the person's child, sibling, spouse, parent, or dependent, commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, §784.048(3), Florida Statutes.

Any person who, after an injunction for protection against repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence, or an injunction for protection against domestic violence, or after any other court-imposed prohibition of conduct toward the subject person or that person's property, knowingly, willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree. §784.048(4), Florida Statutes.

Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks a child minor under 16 years of age commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree. §784.048(5), Florida Statutes.

Any person who has been sentenced and prohibited from contacting the victim and willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks the victim commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree. §784.048(7), Florida Statutes.


Additional Resources for Stalking Protection Injunctions

Domestic Violence Resources - City of Tampa - Information on filing for a petition for injunction in Hillsborough County, Florida by going to the courthouse, Clerk of the Circuit Court's Office.

Domestic Violence FAQ - Clerk of Circuit Court, Hillsborough County - Find information on Injunctions for Protection Against Domestic Violence, Repeat Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Violence, and Stalking Violence.


Finding an Attorney for Stalking Injunction Cases

If you were served with a temporary order and injunction for protection against stalking then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We represent respondents who wish to contest false or exaggerated allegations so that no final injunction for protection is ultimately granted by the court.

We also represent clients charged with the criminal offense of stalking or aggravated stalking. More and more of these cases involve allegations of cyberstalking online or through social media platforms.

We defend clients in the courtrooms in Plant City and Tampa in Hillsborough County, FL, and the surrounding counties of Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough County, FL. Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case.


This article was last updated by  on Friday, December 2, 2016.