The use of injunctions has expanded significantly over the past several years. They are popular because the offer immediate action, can be filed without paying any filing fee, are usually granted ex-parte (with only one side of the story) and have a low standard of proof (preponderance of the evidence; i.e., it is more likely than not that the act of violence occurred). Hearings on injunctions are set within 15 days of the petition being filed, so the process moves very quickly.
Injunctions are an excellent tool for someone who is the victim of domestic violence. The danger of injunctions is that they can be abused to gain an advantage in other matters (a divorce for example), so simply to carry out a personal vendetta.
You are entitled to have an attorney present at an injunction hearing if you wish, but neither side is entitled to a free attorney (no public defender). Petitioners often receive free legal aid from various charitable legal organizations, but typically there is no such aid for the Respondent.
Whether you are seeking an injunction or defending against one, an experienced attorney is vital to presenting your best case. Injunction hearings follow all the formal rules of evidence, which can severely limit what you can tell the court if you are not prepared. An experienced attorney can make sure that your case is ready for a hearing and that the judge gets to hear all the relevant facts.
You are entitled to all the discovery provided for in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The problems is that due to the limited time frame of injunctions, most Respondents (the person accused of committing the act of violence), don’t utilize regular discovery such as depositions, interrogatories and requests for production. An experienced attorney can deal with this dilemma and work to get you the best outcome. You should always utilize an experienced attorney in defending against an injunction.