Third-party communication in domestic violence proceedings
Let’s say you are a Floridian whose partner has been violent toward you, your child or another family member or whose spouse’s actions have been so threatening that you were afraid for your safety. You went to court and got a no contact order that says your partner must stay away from you and not contact you directly – or indirectly through a third party.
Now, your restrained partner’s friends or relatives are pressuring you to ask the court to end the restraining order. What can you do?
The prohibition on indirect contact through another person means that the court has ordered that the respondent (the restrained person) may not ask other people to talk to or communicate with you, the victim, on behalf of the respondent. For example, the respondent may ask friends to put pressure on you or communicate threats from the respondent, or the respondent may contact people close to you to pass messages to you.
Florida restraining orders against domestic violence
Florida law allows such a victim to ask the state court for an “injunction for protection against domestic violence” by a “family or household member,” including a spouse or former spouse, relative by blood or marriage, person with whom a victim lives in a family setting or has in the past, or the other parent of the victim’s child. Except for the other parent, any other family or household member must live with or have lived with the victim.
There are other injunctions (court orders) available against violence or threatened violence that may be available if the domestic violence protection order is not applicable to your situation, including injunctions against repeat violence, dating violence or sexual violence.
An experienced Florida attorney can assess your situation to determine your legal options for seeking a protective order, depending on the circumstances.
What about violations?
The respondent violates the order equally by indirect contact or direct contact, so a victim should not feel that wrongful indirect contact is less important than direct contact.
Should the respondent violate the order, if there is imminent danger, call law enforcement immediately. The respondent may be arrested and may have committed a crime.
However, a respondent may violate the protective order without creating an imminent threat of violence such as by asking third parties to communicate with the victim for him or her. A lawyer can assist with determining next steps such as reporting the violation to the court, which may refer the matter to law enforcement for investigation of potential crime, find the respondent in criminal contempt of court, find the violation to be a misdemeanor or worse for repeat violations, order the respondent to a “batterers’ intervention program,” or order the respondent to pay money damages to the victim for injury or loss from violating the injunction, including legal fees and costs.