Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Domestic Violence

A party who is in reasonable and genuine fear for his or her safety has the option to obtain a civil restraining order in Florida known as a domestic violence injunction. However, this order cannot be used to compel neighbors to be nice to each other as we see in the case Stone v. McMillian, 1D17-5332 (Fla. 1st DCA May 2, 2019).

In this case of feuding neighbors, Ms. McMillian attempted twice to obtain an injunction against Mr. Stone, her neighbor for stalking. The first petition, which was denied, was based on an allegation that Mr. Stone placed a letter in Ms. McMillian’s mailbox directing her not to “pull another stunt like [she] did today,” in response to Ms. McMillian allegedly attempting to run over Mr. Stone and his dog with her car. The court found at that time that the parties were engaging in “tit for tat” behavior and advised that they should go their own separate ways.

Months later, Ms. McMillian filed another petition, this time alleging four main incidents: (1) that Mr. Stone walked in front of her house frequently, (2) that he placed his dog’s waste in her trashcan; (3) that he revved his engine too loud and for too long and (4) that he stepped on her driveway to avoid being hit by a bus passing her house. The court found these acts to be harassing in nature and entered a one-year injunction against Mr. Stone.

Mr. Stone appealed and the injunction was reversed. The appellate court held, “Without need to dissect each fact, we do not find legally sufficient evidence that Stone maliciously engaged in a course of conduct directed at McMillian that would cause a reasonable person substantial emotional distress. Rather, it appears that the parties had an altercation in December 2016 and their relationship turned sour. After the trial court declined to grant an injunction in July 2017, McMillian took every innocuous act of Stone as one of aggression and intimidation, including scrupulously logging each time he walked past her home after daily review of her security camera.” The court went on to hold, “his neighborly feud, which does include some uncivil or immature conduct, does not include stalking. We therefore REVERSE the final injunction for protection against stalking.”

If you need a Florida restraining order entered, contact a Miami domestic violence lawyer to determine what steps you should take. Through a consultation, you can understand the merits of your case and the best way to proceed.