Impact of Final Injunctions
Written by Khara Alvero
Loss of Your Rights – Why you need a lawyer
The scenario that begins an injunction can start with you simply having a verbal disagreement with a person that you know. It is even probably someone you like or trust. The police may never have been called. You chock the whole incident up to a simple disagreement and believe you have done nothing wrong. You believe have a right to your own opinion. However, the other person whom may be motivated by hurting you or your reputation decides to go to the courthouse and get a FREE injunction (there are no court costs to file a Petition for Injunction in most cases) for protection against you. (In all other civil court cases, you have to pay to file your complaint). In this petition, they may exaggerate or recall the situation with facts and/or circumstances that you believe did not happen the way they say it did. You don’t even get to defend yourself initially as the court has the right to enter a temporary injunction against you without your presence or ability to contest it. The Court can take the sworn complaints of this person who is mad at you and enter a Temporary Injunction against you. This starts in motion a series of events that can feel like a bad movie.
The next thing that will happen is you will be subjected to a police officer coming to your home or work, who will serve the paperwork on you. The moment you are served with a permanent injunction (Domestic Violence Injunction, Repeat Violence Injunction, Sexual Violence Injunction, Stalking or Cyber Stalking Injunction) your rights can be dramatically affected. The effects of an injunction being entered against you go far beyond simply not being able to be near the person who filed the petition.
Unlike other criminal and/or civil cases where you have sufficient time to make good decisions, the issuance of a temporary injunction against you requires a judge to set a final hearing in 15 days or less. In that time period while you are waiting for your hearing, on a temporary basis, your firearms will be taken from you, you may be required to stay away from your home, you may be prevented from having any contact with your minor children and/or spouse, talking to your children and/or spouse, and/or prevented from going anywhere near the person whom requested the injunction against you. Meanwhile, you will have to be fully prepared to present your case to the court while under this tremendous stress brought on by the injunction and the immediate consequences. You have only one chance to present your case and one chance to reverse these consequences.
Unlike in a criminal proceeding, you do not have a right to have an attorney appointed in an injunction proceeding. However, representing yourself puts you at a huge disadvantage, while being the only one with a lawyer may tilt the case in your favor.
Most of the time, the paperwork you receive doesn’t detail in writing the horrible impact that a permanent injunction being granted against you can have on your life. Quite a few people choose to represent themselves without knowing that if they are not successful, there can be the following consequences:
It will show up on your criminal record background check. Despite the fact that an injunction is a civil proceeding, it will be on your background check and can be seen by potential employers, landlords, scholarships, schools or an organization, including youth sports leagues and volunteer groups that run you for a criminal record. This can not only prevent you from participating but cause you great embarrassment.
The injunction is enforceable nationwide. You can’t move and leave it behind.
You will not be able to possess or buy a firearm, weapon, and/or ammunition.
You would be required to surrender any firearms or weapons you own. Some of the time, people are asked to surrender their firearms to law enforcement who can and will destroy them if the court is not asked to enter an order returning them or allowing a trusted person to take possession of them on your behalf.
The court can compel you to move from your house if you live with the person who is seeking the injunction even if you solely own said home. For instance, if you own a house prior to marrying your Husband or Wife, an injunction may order you out of your home and allow your Husband or Wife to live in it despite them not having any ownership interest in it. Meanwhile, you are still responsible for paying the mortgage because it is in your name alone (and you don’t want your credit affected) or the court has compelled you to do so through the entry of alimony or support.
You may be prevented from having unsupervised visitation or in some cases any contact with your children. This means you can’t contact them, see them, talk to them, Skype with them, take them to school, pick them up from the bus stop, go to their extra-curricular activities or even write them a note or letter saying you love them.
If the petitioner is a co-worker you could lose your job or be forced to get another job. Sometimes businesses can’t make concessions to allow you to perform your job while complying with a provision to stay away from someone. Other times this court order is considered specifically in your employee’ handbook rules and regulations that you agreed to when getting hired.
The court may on its own award and order you to pay child support without a full hearing on the matter, and that child support order can become permanent. In other words you can be ordered to pay support for a child you cannot see. If you don’t pay the support you can have consequences such as garnishment, fines, loss of driver’s license and even jail in extreme cases of non-payment.
If you have further contact after the injunction is entered, it can result in your arrest for offenses ranging from violation of a protective order, stalking, and perhaps even aggravated stalking, which is a felony.
If you have a professional license, you may be required to report the entry of the injunction, and you may face discipline from your licensing board depending on the allegations of the petition.
If you are a member of the military you can be confined to quarters while not on duty, or be kicked out of military housing, or have other restrictions.
If you are not a citizen of the United States, you can be deported.
If you are not a citizen of the United States, you could be prevented from getting citizenship.
The court has discretion to award temporary alimony in some instances.
The court may not award attorneys’ fees to either party whether you are the prevailing party or not.
The court may allow a brief timeframe, sometimes only 15 minutes, to collect basic personal property items.
The court can order you to take a mental health evaluation and attend treatment, take a 29 week Batter’s Intervention Program, and submit to a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, all at your sole cost for same.
Any allegations regarding abuse or neglect of a minor child can trigger the Department of Children and Families involvement with your family.
It can have a negative impact on divorce proceedings if some or all of the above occur.
If you choose to testify at any hearing on an injunction, the recorded sworn testimony can be used against you in any civil and/or criminal case that you are involved with.
Injunctions can be permanently entered against you, meaning for your lifetime.
- The Injunction can be used as a tool to harass you. Oftentimes a spouse, ex-spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, and/or friend, tries to reconcile with the person whom the injunction is against and invites that person over despite there being an injunction in place against that person. When the person who has been invited over makes contact to try and reconcile or work things out, they are then in jeopardy of being arrested for violating the injunction despite the person inviting them over. Sometimes the injunction holder does this on purpose to gain leverage over the person.
Contact an attorney to help you avoid these consequences. The sooner you contact an attorney, the better chance the attorney has to gather documentation, witnesses and evidence that can preserve your rights and freedoms in these cases.