Standing in Domestic Violence Injunctions

Criminal defense attorneys deal with Domestic Violence injunctions because injunctions apply criminal laws through trials in a family court setting. In Florida, you can file five types of restraining orders to keep someone away from you. To learn more about them, check out my page on Domestic Violence. Of the five, only Domestic Violence injunctions require a special relationship between the parties. To file, you must prove a familial or household member relationship. In Alcon v. Collins, the First District Court of Appeal looks into a person’s standing to file this type of injunction.

Standing in General and Domestic Violence Injunctions

Simply put, standing defines the right to sue. For example, only the government may bring charges in criminal cases. Even if someone punched me, I don’t have standing to bring criminal Battery charges. The law reserves this right to the State of Florida.

To file Domestic Violence restraining orders, the State of Florida says that you must share a familial or household member relationship. The law defines it. It’s pretty wordy.

A 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.

Facts of the Case

Ms. Collins, while engaged to another man, becomes friends with Mr. Alcon. She visits Mr. Alcon in California on a couple occasions. After her last visit, she files a Domestic Violence injunction in Florida against him. On a related note, you can file an injunction wherever you live.

At the hearing, Mr. Alcon challenges her standing to file this type of injunction. Ms. Collins testifies that she’s engaged to another man and that nothing romantic happened with Mr. Alcon. She visited California and stayed with him looking for a job. Despite this testimony, the judge denies his objection. He finds standing and rules for Ms. Collins.

In California, Mr. Alcon files a Domestic Violence injunction against Ms. Collins. At that hearing, Ms. Collins again says the relationship was platonic, seeking to dismiss the case. Moreover, she says they weren’t living together. Eventually, her lawyer sees the conflict. If they were platonic and never lived together, how could Ms. Collins get a restraining order in Florida? When questioned by the judge, Ms. Collins says she chose a Domestic Violence petition because a clinic told her she should. Obviously, she filed it without help from a criminal defense attorney.

With this new testimony, Mr. Alcon files a motion in Florida, looking for relief from the injunction. Nevertheless, the judge denies the motion. Then Mr. Alcon appeals.

Familial or Household Relationship

Clearly, the Court rules that Ms. Collins lacks standing to file a Domestic Violence restraining order. Because she files the case, she bears the burden to prove standing. To meet her burden, she must show shared legal residence. Ultimately, legal residence is the concurrence of the fact and intention.

Despite this burden, she insists in both hearings that they never shared a familial or household relationship. Later, she testifies they weren’t living together in California. Accordingly, the Court uses her words against her. Because she swears they never resided together in the past as a family, she fails to prove legal residence. Therefore, they lack a familial or household member relationship and the Court dismisses the injunction.

Read the Alcon v. Collins opinion here!

Talk to an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney!

While we sympathize with Ms. Collins, this sort of mistake gets made by people who file motions without help from a lawyer. For years, Mr. Brown worked with a family law firm handling injunctions for their clients. He’s filed them and he’s defended them. He’s even defended a client facing both an injunction and criminal charges at the same time. Because these matters are especially tricky, call Mr. Brown as soon as you can to see if he can help you best protect yourself! Reach out over the phone at (954) 524-6700 or through the Contact Page if you have any questions.

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