Bill to assist victims of domestic violence obtain protective orders sent to the governor

Bill to assist victims of domestic violence obtain protective orders sent to the governor

Rep. Alina Garcia

Filing for a protective order would be easier for domestic violence and other victims under a measure the Legislature has sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Senate on March 4 voted 40-0 to approve HB 761 by Rep. Alina Garcia, R-Miami. Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, sponsored the companion, SB 852.

“I just want to say this legislation is going to help a lot of people in vulnerable situations,” Calatayud said moments before the final vote.

The measure would simply remove a requirement that petitions for “interpersonal violence injunctions” be notarized.

The relatively small change in procedure would make a big difference for victims, who would no longer have to print a form and hire a notary to witness their signature, Calatayud stressed.

The change would also allow a victim to file a petition through the court system’s automated “DIY” platform for pro se litigants, she said.

Both sponsors stressed that petitioners would still be required to sign a statement, under the penalty of perjury, that the information is correct.

“The penalty for perjury by false written declaration is a third-degree felony,” Garcia reminded her House colleagues. “This will improve access to the courts.”

The Supreme Court temporarily lifted the requirement in a series of orders then Chief Justice Charles Canady issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Supreme Court’s Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Courts later recommended making the change permanent.

Advocates for the Family Law Section, and representatives for the Office of State Court Administrator, and the Florida Smart Justice Alliance, signaled their support during committee hearings.

SB 852/HB 761 sailed through committees and the House and Senate without generating a negative vote.


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