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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Does Domestic Violence Have To Be Physical?

Does Domestic Violence Have To Be Physical?


The stereotypical case of domestic violence in Florida is one that involves one spouse allegedly physically harming the other, but in reality, there are several different types of offenses that may qualify as domestic violence, and countless different ways that those offenses can play out. If you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence, know that not all crimes of domestic violence require physical interaction.

No Physical Altercation Required

Florida’s domestic violence statute defines the crime as any criminal offense that “results in physical injury or death” to a family or household member, perpetrated by another family or household member. The wording is very specific – it does not require you to directly cause physical injury or death to someone, only that physical injury or death result from your actions. For example, if you commit assault by threatening a person with a weapon, and they are injured while running away from you, you would likely still be on the proverbial hook to be charged with a domestic violence offense.

While it is true that one episode of yelling will not likely get a person charged with a crime of domestic violence, the Florida legislature has included non-physical crimes under the umbrella of domestic violence because non-physical abuse can still be devastating to a victim – emotional, financial, and verbal abuse cause untold amounts of suffering. A victim should not be made to suffer just because their alleged abuser never attacked them physically.

Physical Injury IS Required

Crimes like assault, which do not involve physical harm to anyone, can be difficult to establish; after all, in most situations, it will be the victim’s word against the alleged perpetrator’s. That said, the definition of domestic violence may not require a physical crime, but it does require physical injury. If you have not caused physical injury to your alleged victim, it may be your easiest way to defend yourself against abuse allegations.

That said, if you have been involved in an altercation with a family or household member, know that while you will likely not be charged with domestic violence over, say, a yelling match, it is possible that you could be charged with lesser offenses like disturbing the peace. It is not uncommon for neighbors to call in a domestic dispute solely based on noise; while first responders do not have to arrest anyone, they are able to do so if they feel it best in terms of diffusing the situation.

Call A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

Domestic violence crimes are taken extremely seriously in Florida, with potentially harsh punishment for offenders. However, there is a specific definition of the offense, and if your conduct does not meet it, having a West Palm Beach criminal attorney show the court can make all the difference. The firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. has experience in domestic violence matters, and will work to protect your rights as your case progresses. Call us today to speak to an attorney.



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