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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?


When discussing domestic violence, it is crucial to remember that there are multiple different types – physical, emotional, verbal, and financial are among the most commonly seen. However, most crimes of domestic violence are physical in nature. If you have been abused by a partner or other loved one, but not in a physical manner, you may wonder if what you have been through is a crime. The answer is often yes – but it may not specifically be a crime of domestic violence.

Many Types Of Abuse

If one examines Florida’s domestic violence statute, it clearly defines a crime of domestic violence as any criminal offense “resulting in physical injury or death” to a “family or household member” of the perpetrator. While it is true that a non-physical action can result in physical injury or death, if someone loses their life or is seriously injured in a violent offense, it will, the majority of the time, be because someone else laid hands on them.

This does not mean that other types of abuse, particularly verbal and emotional abuse, are not serious offenses – merely that it is much more difficult to establish that pattern of behavior has occurred, particularly since many abuse cases come down to one party’s word against the other. It is, however, common for these allegations to shore up a domestic violence case based on alleged physical harm, particularly when a long history of abuse is alleged.

May Be Other Crimes

One thing to keep in mind is that even if a type of abuse may not rise to the level of domestic violence, per se, it may meet the criteria for another type of offense. The most common situation where this is the case is when financial abuse is alleged. Financial abuse is when one partner controls the other partner’s ability to make money and/or acquire other financial resources – it is common, for example, for jealous spouses to deny access to credit cards or to the family bank account as a way to keep their spouses dependent on them.

This may not always qualify as domestic violence in the literal sense – but there are several financial crimes which may meet the criteria. For example, if an abusive spouse misappropriates or disposes of their spouse’s separate property (as opposed to jointly-owned marital property), they may be guilty of theft or conversion. It can be difficult to determine which offenses might apply, though; contacting a knowledgeable attorney can be the first step toward getting justice.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

While the ultimate decision as to what constitutes domestic violence lies with the state’s attorney in your case, it is important to understand the legal classification of the different types, so that you have a better grasp of your options. A West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can provide guidance and help shoulder the load during the legal process. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.

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