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Measure would speed the delivery of protective orders

Senior Editor Top Stories
Sen. Janet Cruz

Sen. Janet Cruz

A Senate panel has approved a measure designed to protect domestic violence victims by speeding the delivery of protective orders to law enforcement.

The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously January 31 to approve SB 654 by Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa.

“Currently these petitions for injunction are going out by the mail, which adds three to five days before the sheriff receives it,” Cruz said. “This bill will save lives.”

SB 772 would require a clerk to electronically transmit a protective order — and the sheriff or law enforcement agency to accept it — within 24 hours after being issued by the court.

Current law prohibits a clerk from electronically transferring a protective order unless the sheriff requests it, according to a staff analysis.

The measure would apply to a domestic violence injunction, injunction for repeat violence, sexual violence or dating violence, injunction for stalking, and related documents, according to the analysis.

Cruz added an amendment that would permit clerks to transmit the court order by facsimile, hand delivery, or certified or registered mail in cases where an internet outage lasted more than 24 hours.

Hillsborough County Court Clerk and Comptroller Cindy Stuart spoke in favor of the bill, saying her office processes 6,500 protective injunctions per year.

“And to think that those are getting put in the mail in the majority of offices across the state is a public safety issue,” she said. “Time matters. Seconds matter.”

The measure still faces hearing in the Children, Families and Elderly Affairs Committee and the Rules Committee.

A House companion, HB 905 by Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-Deland, passed the Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee 18-0 on January 27. It faces two more committee hearings.

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