Once Upon a Domestic Dispute

There was a Man who had a Girlfriend.  They got in a verbal disagreement over finances.  She rather thought he should bring home more money; he thought he was doing the best he could.  The Man called the cops, but he was the one who wound up wearing the orange jumpsuit. The Man had said something to the Girlfriend and then went to his car to go to work.  The Girlfriend followed him to his car, beating on him.  He had his gun in the car.  In accordance with the two-step process of firearm safety, he stored the clip separately (which she knew).  In order to get her to back off, he moved the slide, and the sound was enough to send her back into the house.  That is when the Man realized he still needed money from her to buy gas to go to work.  He called the cops so they could help him talk to her. The most difficult thing a cop has to do is deal with a domestic dispute.  They do not know what they are walking into.  Though the Man in this case had not touched the Girlfriend, the cops had to make a decision […] Read More

When NOT To Send Flowers

When someone has filed against you a Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence, that is bad timing for a big bouquet of red roses.  It is a violation of the injunction to have contact of any kind, including phone calls and sending flowers. A Temporary Injunction of this type means the defendant cannot come home from work that day, not even to get his belongings.  It takes the defendant out of the home fast and without warning, often with only the clothes on his back…even if he pays most or all of the rent or mortgage. Sometimes that is necessary.  I have great compassion for trial judges who have to make tough decisions in cases of domestic violence and try to err on the side of not getting somebody hurt (or worse). If you are a defendant in a domestic violence case do not send flowers, but do bring an attorney.  Yes, your partner may be lying, but the Judge will probably rule on the side of caution.  Use legal representation to properly sort out your rights from the wrongs.   Read More

Legal Class on ‘Domestic Violence Laws and Resources’

This FREE class will be presented by St. Johns County Legal Aid at 4:00 p.m. at the Southeast Branch Library (6670 US 1 South, St. Augustine, Florida).  The program is free and open to the public.  For more information, call (904) 824-6900.     Read More

Who Needs a Lawyer at an Evidentiary Hearing After a Temporary Injunction?

Answer:  Both sides.  A Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence separates the two parties until they can both appear before a judge at an evidentiary hearing.  That hearing is like a mini-trial.  While you can represent yourself in court, this is a situation where it is advantageous for both parties to have competent legal representation. The law is technical, and from a technical standpoint there are things you can mess up that will hurt what you are trying to accomplish.  Judges have to make tough decisions in these matters, and they generally want to err on the side of not getting somebody hurt (or worse).  The judge will have better evidence to make a proper decision if you have counsel.  While you have the absolute right to represent yourself, without legal training and experience, you can unnecessarily change the outcome of the hearing, sometimes with disastrous results.  Do not put yourself in harm’s way by making an ignorant mistake in court. Also, an attorney can reframe the situation so you can objectively evaluate your legal choices and the consequences of those choices. Read More

Misconceptions About Representing Yourself in Domestic Violence Cases

Misconception is when you think you are pregnant, and then you are not.  Misconception is also when you go to an Evidentiary Hearing after a Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence and think you will win because you have a note from your mother saying your ex-boyfriend is violent.  If you think you are saving money by not having an attorney represent you, you could be putting yourself at risk if your ex is violent. You cannot just say, “He hit me.”  You have to have admissible evidence and follow proper procedures in order for the court to act on your claim. In cases of Domestic Violence, you can get a Temporary Injunction separating yourself from a potentially dangerous situation until both parties appear before a judge at a hearing.  That hearing is like a mini-trial.  You can represent yourself in court, but those who do often bring affidavits that are not admissible, or they want to phone a friend.  The hearing is not a game show and it is not Judge Judy. The law is technical, and from a technical standpoint there are things you can mess up that will hurt what you are trying to accomplish.  If […] Read More

Sleeping with the Enemy

Most good legal stories start with a woman.  The first case I ever had started with a woman.  In the Bible, what happens to man?  Woman.  God asks Adam, “Who told you you were naked?”  Eve.  King David?  Bathsheba.  Sampson?  Delilah.  Do not go to an Evidentiary Hearing after a Temporary Injunction unprepared—bring legal representation. In a Temporary Injunction, fifty percent of the time the affidavit against the defendant is lies.  Say the right thing on an affidavit and hubby cannot come home, get his stuff, or even write—it does not matter if he is the homeowner or pays most or all of the rent.  A Temporary Injunction takes the defendant out of the home fast and without warning.  Hubby leaves only with what is on his back as far as personal belongings go. The Evidentiary Hearing is like a mini-trial; both parties appear before a Judge and are subject to the complex details of the law, the rules of court, and the rules of evidence.  You have the absolute right to represent yourself in court, but without legal training and experience, you can unnecessarily change the outcome of the Hearing, sometimes with disastrous results.  If you sleep on your […] Read More

Proper Legal Representation in Domestic Violence Cases

I graduated from Palatka High School and I do not remember domestic violence being part of the curriculum.  Nevertheless, cases involving domestic violence show up in the Putnam County courts, and often unprepared. Putnam County is the poorest county in Florida.  Furthermore, unlike St. Johns County or Duval, Putnam does not have a Legal Aid branch.  Thus Putnam lacks that legal resource for justice for the poor, the elderly, and the disabled.  Cases involving domestic violence are sometimes where a poverty of justice appears. In cases of Domestic Violence, you can get a Temporary Injunction separating yourself from a potentially dangerous situation until both parties appear before a judge at a hearing.  That hearing is like a mini-trial.  You can represent yourself in court, but those who do often bring affidavits that are not admissible, or they want to phone a friend.  The hearing is not a game show and it is not Judge Judy.  The Judge can only call balls and strikes—he or she cannot rule on conjecture. The law is technical, and from a technical standpoint there are things you can mess up that will hurt what you are trying to accomplish.  Do not put yourself in harm’s […] Read More

When Venus & Mars Collide – Evidentiary Hearing

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus…sometimes they meet at an Evidentiary Hearing after a Temporary Injunction.  That hearing is like a mini-trial, the atmosphere can be thicker than you think, and the gravity can be more than you expect.  When worlds collide in court, the best of a bad situation is when both planets show up with competent legal representation. A Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence means that without notice, the defendant cannot come home, and cannot get belongings (even if the defendant owns the home or pays rent on the apartment).  Furthermore, the defendant violates the injunction by phoning the spouse, sending flowers, or having any contact. Venus may be lying.  However, judges have to make tough decisions in these situations, and they generally want to err on the side of not getting somebody hurt (or worse).  The judge will have better evidence to make a proper decision if you have counsel.  An attorney can properly represent your case, and also reframe the situation so you can objectively evaluate your possible choices and the consequences of those choices. Mars may be dangerous.  The law is technical, and from a technical standpoint, you can make […] Read More

Do-It-Yourself Divorce

The Florida Supreme Court has do-it-yourself divorce forms available online, but that may not be in your best interest.  The law is technical, and from a technical standpoint there are things you can mess up that will hurt what you are trying to accomplish. In cases of Domestic Violence, you can get a Temporary Injunction separating yourself from a potentially dangerous situation until both parties appear before a judge at a hearing.  That hearing is like a mini-trial.  You can represent yourself in court, but those who do often show up with affidavits that are not admissible, or they want to phone a friend.  The hearing is not a game show and it is not Judge Judy.  The Judge can only call balls and strikes—he or she cannot rule on conjecture. Divorce is not rocket science, but it is not basket weaving either.  Do not put yourself in harm’s way by making an ignorant mistake in court.  Competent legal counsel can properly represent your case…and also take the emotion out of the situation so you can move forward through the process. Read More

Free Class Today: ‘Domestic Violence Laws and Resources’

In the second of a series of public education courses, St. Johns County Legal Aid presents “Domestic Violence Laws and Resources.”  This FREE one-hour class starts at 4:00 p.m. at the Southeast Branch Library (6670 US 1 South, St. Augustine, Florida). The People’s Law School schedule for the rest of the spring is as follows: March 5 – Do You Need a Will?  What If You Die Without One? March 12 – Rights of a Debtor March 19 – Landlord/Tenant Laws March 26 – Foreclosure Defense of Homesteads April 2 – How Can You Avoid the Need for Guardianship? April 9 – Is Probate a Dirty Word? April 16 – Spouse in a Nursing Home—Do You Have to Go Broke? April 23 – Should You Ever Put Someone Else’s name on Your Deed? All classes are free and start at 4:00 p.m. at the Southeast Branch Library.  For more information on St. Johns County Legal Aid and their services, go to www.jaxlegalaid.org. Read More