There are numerous laws in place to protect people from harassing behavior. For example, someone who is routinely subjected to threatening behavior can seek an injunction barring the aggressor from further contact. Injunctions will only be granted in cases in which there is objective evidence that it is necessary, though. Recently, a Florida court issued an opinion discussing the proof needed to demonstrate an injunction for protection against stalking in a case in which it ultimately reversed the trial court ruling. If someone is seeking an injunction against you, it is advisable to speak to a capable Florida injunction lawyer to discuss your options.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiffs and defendant owned neighboring businesses. They were involved in a dispute over property boundaries and the use of an easement located on the defendant’s property. They could not come to an agreement, and the plaintiffs filed petitions seeking an injunction for protection from stalking against the defendant. In support of their petition, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant harassed and stalked them by blocking their access to their property and yelling and screaming profanities at them. After an evidentiary hearing in which the plaintiffs stated that the defendant’s actions caused them stress and anxiety, the court granted the plaintiffs’ request and entered an injunction to prevent stalking against the defendant. The defendant appealed.
Grounds for Granting an Injunction
Under Florida law, a person who repeatedly harasses, follows, or cyberstalks another individual in a willful and malicious manner is guilty of the crime of stalking. The statute defines harassment as engaging in a course of conduct that is directed towards a certain person, that serves no legitimate purpose, and causes the person to suffer substantial emotional distress.
In determining whether an incident causes a person to suffer significant emotional distress, the courts employ a reasonable person standard rather than an objective standard. Additionally, the reasonable person standard is applied in a case-specific manner, which means that the court will assess what a reasonable person in the position of the individual seeking the injunction would find offensive.
In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court appropriately credited the plaintiffs’ testimony regarding how the defendant’s actions made them feel. The trial court failed to conduct an analysis to determine whether the evidence was adequate to satisfy the objective standard, however. The court found that while the defendant’s behavior was rude and offensive, it did not rise to the level necessary for a reasonable person to suffer the emotional distress needed to grant an injunction. Thus, the trial court’s order was vacated.
Speak to a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida
Injunctions can impair people’s liberties and cause significant harm to their reputations. If you were notified that someone wishes to obtain an injunction against you, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Florida injunction lawyer Genine Ann Mejia can advise you of your rights and gather the evidence needed to help you seek the best outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Ms. Mejia via the form online or at (386) 463-0849 to set up a conference.