Bill to simplify obtaining protective orders moves in the House
A House panel has approved a measure that would make it easier for domestic violence victims to obtain a protective order.
The Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 16-0 on Thursday to approve HB 761 by Rep. Alina Garcia, R-Miami.
The bill, “Interpersonal Violence Injunction Petitions,” would eliminate a requirement that the petitions be notarized.
Under current law, a petition for protection against domestic violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, dating violence, or stalking must be sworn to and signed in the presence of a notary, according to a staff analysis.
The relatively small change would remove a significant barrier for victims, Garcia said.
“Because the petition must be notarized or acknowledged by a clerk, it must be printed out, and cannot be immediately filed with the clerk in the portal,” she said.
Applicants would still face a significant penalty for not being truthful, Garcia said.
“The penalty for perjury by false written declaration is a third-degree felony,” she said. “This will improve access to the courts.”
The bill could impact thousands of Floridians. According to the staff analysis, Florida’s 41 domestic violence shelters admitted 11,811 victims to residential services programs, and 38,630 victims to non-residential outreach services programs in FY 2021-22.
The Supreme Court Steering Committee on Children and Families in the Courts recommended the change, Garcia told the panel.
The bill is supported by the Family Law Section, Florida Smart Justice Alliance, and Office of State Courts Administrator.
Republican Representative Traci Koster, a family law attorney from Tampa, thanked Garcia for sponsoring the proposal.
“This is a small step, but this is such a big deal,” she said. “It really is unnecessary and archaic to have to notarize these forms.”
HB 761 faces one more hearing, in Judiciary, before reaching the House floor.
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