In Florida domestic violence cases, courts are concerned with protecting the alleged victim or other family or household members who might be endangered should the defendant be released. A common tool judges use to ensure the safety of others is a stay away order. The order restricts the defendant from interacting with anyone named in it.
Violating a stay away order can have serious consequences, including being sent back to jail and having additional criminal charges imposed. That means that for the duration of the order, the defendant must be cautious about who they talk to and where they go. These limitations can instill fear and stress in the individual and lead to burdens making everyday life challenging.
Although stay away orders are effective for a certain period as directed by the court, individuals subject to them can pursue early relief from the conditions. Having a stay away order lifted can remove barriers and help the individual take steps toward reconciling with the alleged victim.
What a Stay Away Order Does
A court will issue a stay away order in a domestic violence case to protect the alleged victim or others from continued or future harm or threats of harm. The judge might decide to issue the order if the victim states that they are afraid of the defendant or the judge believes that the facts of the case suggest that the alleged victim is in immediate danger.
Stay away orders can be issued as a condition of pretrial release while the criminal case is pending. They can also be issued after the case has concluded as a term of probation.
A person subject to a stay away order is prohibited from:
- Directly or indirectly contacting any person named in the order;
- Going to or near the alleged victim’s home, workplace, vehicle, or other location they frequently visit; or
- Making physical or violent contact with the alleged victim.
The stay away order bans any communication with the alleged victim, including calling, texting, messaging on social media, and writing. And it’s not just direct interaction with the alleged victim that’s not allowed. Indirect contact is also prohibited. For instance, the defendant themselves cannot call or text the other individual, nor can they ask someone else to call or text the alleged victim.
Because a stay away order can prohibit a person from going near the alleged victim’s home, that means if the alleged victim and defendant live together, the defendant must vacate the residence. The defendant can be escorted to the home to pick up belongings. After that, they must find another place to stay while the order is effective.
The Consequences of Violating a Stay Away Order
Any person named in a stay away order must adhere to the conditions until the order is changed or expires. A verbal or written agreement between the alleged victim and the defendant does not constitute a modification of the order. Only a court can update the terms. Thus, even if the alleged victim consents to the defendant contacting them or initiates contact, any interactions not permitted by the court are considered violations.
If the defendant violates the stay away order, they can be sent back to jail until their case or sentence concludes. They may also be subject to criminal charges and can receive an additional term of incarceration and/or fine if found guilty of the violation.
How to Get a Stay Away Order Lifted
Various hardships can arise when a person is subject to a stay away order. But it is possible to have the order modified or lifted for a partial or complete removal of the restrictions. As noted above, changes to the order can only be made by a court. The defendant must file a motion for a modification and must adhere to the current conditions until the request is approved.
The court will hold a hearing to determine whether to lift the stay away order.
Some of the arguments the defendant can raise to support their assertions that the order is no longer necessary include:
- The alleged victim never asked for the order. The court may have issued the order based on its own beliefs, even though the alleged victim never said that they feared harm by the defendant.
- The alleged victim does not need the court’s protection. The alleged victim might not feel that they are in immediate danger nor that the defendant is likely to commit any future acts of violence.
- The alleged victim is disempowered or re-victimized. The court issuing a stay away order without the alleged victim’s request might make the alleged victim feel as if they have lost their ability to make their own decisions. They may feel like a victim of the system.
- No incidents of domestic violence prior or since. The incident for which the court issued the stay away order might have been an isolated event. The defendant might not have engaged in such behavior before or has not continued the conduct.
- The defendant has enrolled in or completed counseling. The defendant might have taken substance abuse or batterers’ intervention classes to address and overcome the underlying issues leading to the incident.
Get Legal Help Lifting Your Stay Away Order
Having a stay away order issued against you can be limiting and affect your personal life and relationships. I recognize the challenges this can present, which is why I am here to help seek to have the order lifted. I will review your case and determine what paths to take to seek relief.
Schedule a consultation with my firm by calling (305) 321-3237 or submitting an online contact form today.