In FL, “Hope Cards” could help law enforcement and domestic violence survivors
Survivors of domestic violence would be able to carry “Hope Cards” that provide information about any protective court orders they have obtained, if new legislation passes in the upcoming Florida Legislature.
The Hope Card would be issued by the Office of the State Courts Administrator and must be a durable, laminated, wallet-size card which would include detailed information about the respondent as well as the petitioner’s name, date of birth and the names and dates of birth of any minor children protected under the order.
South Florida Democratic Rep. Mike Gottlieb, a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, recently filed the legislation (HB 45).
Gottlieb says he decided to sponsor the bill after having a meeting with officials in the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, including State Attorney Harold Pryor and Stefanie Newman, who heads that office’s domestic violence unit.
Newman says she began looking into the Hope Card program after attending a webinar with the Florida Domestic Violence Collaborative on domestic violence fatality review teams, where the speaker discussed how the program works in Montana. That’s where the first Hope Cards program originated in 2010, according to the National Center for State Courts.
Newman says it gives law enforcement another tool to help verify and immediately make an arrest when there’s a violation of a restraining order.
“Typically, when you have an injunction for protection, you have to carry around that certified document from the court, which can be 9-10 to 12 pages, which you always have to have with you because if there’s a violation and you call the police, they need to know the case number,” she says. “They need to know the judge. They need a lot of information from that document to verify in order to make an arrest.”
“This Hope Card gives law enforcement that opportunity to trust that this person is telling them the truth,” adds Gottlieb. “It’s just another lawyer of safety and security.”