Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Domestic Violence
Can a stalking injunction be entered based on a spouse’s access to vehicle safety systems such as OnStar? In one recent appellate case, a former husband appealed the entry of an injunction against him where he was accused of following his former wife’s whereabouts via the OnStar system installed in a vehicle purchased during the parties’ marriage.
In order for a party to obtain an injunction against domestic violence, the party must show he or she has an objectively reasonable fear that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of any act of domestic violence. To support an injunction for allegations of stalking, a party must prove the accused willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed, harassed, or cyberstalked the victim.
The former husband had access to the OnStar records in the vehicle purchased during the marriage because his email address was registered with the system when the vehicle was purchased. The former wife alleged there were two incidents in which the former husband stalked her. One was where the former husband showed up at the same restaurant as the former wife was dining at with a relative of former husband on Valentine’s Day. The evidence showed the former husband did not sit with or interact with the former husband, that the former wife left when the former husband appeared and then the former husband ate a meal at the restaurant without incident and left.
The second incident alleged by the former wife accused the former husband of tracking her whereabouts at work. To prove this, the former wife offered text messages between the parties in which the former husband made statements that led her to believe her whereabouts were being tracked. However, the text message string showed the former wife herself stated her location herself earlier in the text message string before the former husband made comments alluding to her whereabouts.
The trial court entered a final judgment of injunction based on these incidents without making any findings of fact specific to the case. The appellate court reversed this final judgment, holding, “To receive an injunction, it was incumbent on [the former wife] to prove her case with competent, substantial evidence. Viewing the evidence in her favor, we cannot conclude that competent, substantial evidence supports the conclusion that she was either a victim of domestic violence arising from these incidents and the tracking allegations, or had reasonable cause to believe that she was in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. For these reasons, we reverse the decision of the lower court and remove the injunction against [the former husband].
Having an injunction entered against you in Florida can hurt job prospects and otherwise blight your record. If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, contact a Miami domestic violence lawyer to help you understand your next best steps and defenses in your case.