Injunctions Against Repeat Violence/Domestic Violence/Stalking (Cyber)
Article By Attorney Clementine Conde
The rise of filings of civil injunctions has grown dramatically within the last decade thanks to social media. The granting of such an injunction even for a short period of time can have serious repercussions to the Respondent. Such repercussions include:
- loss of employment
- loss of right to own or possess a firearm
- loss of housing
- intrusive detentions by security in airports while traveling
- negative stigma attached to respondents (as being dangerous persons)
One should always seek the advice of counsel in the event that one is served with an Injunction due to the serious consequences to an individual’s life should one be granted. A civil injunction hearing is an evidentiary hearing in which one must be knowledgeable of the rules of evidence. Often times a Petitioner will have an attorney either retained or provided by Legal Aid should they qualify.
These evidentiary hearings are heard by a Judge and the burden is on the Petitioner to convince the court by a preponderance of the evidence that an act of violence or stalking occurred within the previous six months of the petition being filed. This is a low burden in comparison to a criminal case in which the burden is beyond a reasonable doubt. In some cases, a companion criminal charge has been filed against the Respondent for the act of violence and/or stalking that is alleged in the petition. In such circumstances, the court will advise the Respondent that any testimony provided by him/her in the Injunction hearing can be used against them in the criminal case. Therefore, it is important that the Respondent have counsel to protect his/her rights.
If such an injunction is granted, it could be for any time frame the court deems appropriate. Although it is possible to modify and/or dissolve a final injunction, it can be difficult to do if the Petitioner objects. If the Respondent is accused of violating the injunction, he/she may face serious penalties including jail.
One should not face the court alone when served with an Injunction. Your freedom may depend upon it!