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Domestic Violence And Retrieval of Property

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In Domestic Violence cases, whether criminal or civil (Injunction), there will usually be a couple living together in the same residence.  While Domestic Violence does not require the couple to be living in the same household, it is usually the case.  And when one person is arrested and/or served with a Domestic Violence Injunction (commonly referred to as a restraining order), the couple can no longer reside together until further order of the Court.

If you are arrested for Domestic Violence, you cannot return to the home where the alleged victim lives.  Same thing if you are served with a Domestic Violence Injunction.

So what do you do if your personal belongings are in the house and you can't get to them?

Within 48 hours of your release from jail or issuance of the Injunction, contact your local law enforcement agency.  Usually, this will be the county sheriff that will assist you with property retrieval (Broward Sheriff's Office, Miami-Dade Police, Palm Beach Sheriff, etc...) but you may contact a municipal agency for help.  

Let the police agency know that there is a pending Domestic Violence case, an order of protection has been issued, and you need to return to your residence to collect your personal belongings.

The police will escort you to the property.  It is critical that you not go to the property by yourself under any circumstances.  This can result in you being arrested for violating the no contact order/Injunction.  If you are out on bond in a criminal case, this new arrest could result in your underlying bond being revoked and you could find yourself sitting in jail without a bond.

The police will escort you to the home.  When you are at the home, you should insist that the police officers physically escort you inside of the home.  This is for your protection, so the alleged victim cannot make further accusations against you.  In fact, it would be best if the police officers took the alleged victim outside of the home or escorted them to another part of the home so that there is no opportunity for interaction.  If you say so much as a single word to the alleged victim while collecting your belongings, the police can and will arrest you on the spot.  A Court order precluding contact means just that.  You can have no contact with the alleged victim.

Once you collect your personal belongings with the assistance of a police escort, you may not return to the property absent a Court order.

If the alleged victim wishes to resume contact with you, a criminal stay away/no contact order can be modified (this must be done by a motion and with a hearing before the Judge with all parties present) or if an Injunction, the alleged victim (Petitioner) may move to vacate the Injunction.

Domestic Violence cases are extremely sensitive matters and it is critical that you abide by the law at all times.  

If you have been arrested in the State of Florida for a Domestic Violence case or have been served with an Injunction, please contact law enforcement within 48 hours of your release or service of the Injunction to collect your personal belongings from your home.