The case of a Boynton Beach woman who was set on fire at a gas station, allegedly by her son’s father, has focused attention on domestic violence in South Florida.
The victim tried to get a protective order against Roosevelt Mondesir, 52, who was arrested for attempted first-degree murder on Monday, but a family court judge denied to issue one, saying there was insufficient evidence.
In Miami-Dade County, victims – primarily women – can seek protection from dangerous relationships at four offices of the family courts, including one downtown. NBC 6 was given exclusive access on Wednesday to that section of the family court division where women take the first step to obtain protective orders from the court aimed at preventing abuse.
“Typically we get about 20 people a day here,” said Mark Martinez, the division chief for the family courts.
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At the office at the courthouse at 175 NW 1st Ave., those seeking an order meet with court workers who guide them in filling out forms and getting started on the process.
“It is something where people are going through a traumatic time, and they realize that. They are assisting them, getting the right information, and that it is accurate,” Martinez said.
In the Boynton Beach case, the victim filled out forms and in her own handwriting detailed why she thought she needed protection, but her request was denied an hour later. She was severely burned at a 7-Eleven just under two weeks later.
At the Miami-Dade office, the court workers cannot give legal advice or advocate for the women, but they do aid them in making sure everything is done correctly before the request is presented to the judge. Handwritten forms are not allowed.
After the paperwork is completed, it is sent to the judge the same day. If a court order is granted, law enforcement moves to deliver it within 24 hours.
There are four locations in Miami-Dade County where women can walk in and get assistance, including at the Hialeah District Court, the North Dade Justice Center and the South Dade Justice Center. They can also call a domestic violence hotline at 1-800-500-1119.