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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 one thinks of domestic violence, physical abuse is what comes to mind for the majority. However, abuse can manifest in multiple forms, any of which can cause serious harm to victims. Since every state’s definition is different, it can be confusing as to which types of abuse are legally actionable – actions that you do not intend to be abusive may still qualify. Consulting an attorney can help clear up any potential issues.

Physical Violence Is Common

Authorities on domestic abuse have identified four main types, though each case can of course have elements of all four. Physical abuse is the most common (or at least, the most often reported); statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) report that as many as 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence from an intimate partner. Overall, intimate partner violence in general causes approximately 15 percent of all violent crime.

In Florida, abuse must have at least some physical component in order for a charge of domestic violence to be brought by State’s Attorneys. The definition of domestic violence is when a family or household member commits any criminal offense that results in physical injury or death to another family or household member, listing some example crimes such as kidnapping, sexual assault, and false imprisonment. This does not mean that other types of abuse are not ‘real’ or valid; it merely means that the law requires a physical component so that more tangible proof of abuse exists.

Other Types Of Abuse

The other most commonly seen types of domestic abuse are emotional, psychological, and financial, any of which can go hand in hand with physical violence. Emotional and psychological abuse are two sides of the same coin; while emotional abuse attacks the self-esteem (for example, making a partner believe no one else will ever love them, so they stay in the relationship), psychological abuse is fear-based, with the intent of establishing a form of dominance. Financial abuse is the deliberate withholding (or even outright theft) of resources like money or food from the alleged victim.

It is important to keep in mind that while these types of abuse may not amount to an official charge of domestic violence in Florida, they may fit the criteria for you to be charged with another type of crime. For example, any type of psychological abuse that poses a “credible threat” to a person’s safety may be a crime, such as stalking, or violating a restraining order. Most of these types of offenses are third-degree felonies, which can carry prison time and hefty fines.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have been charged with domestic violence – or another crime related to alleged abuse of a family or household member – you are entitled to your day in court. Calling a West Palm Beach criminal attorney is important, so that you can be sure your rights are protected as you navigate the legal process. The firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. has handled many of these cases, and will work hard for you. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.



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