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Perlet & Shiner, P.A. Motto

Does Verbal Abuse Count As Domestic Violence In Florida?


Florida has a fairly broad definition of domestic violence, covering quite a lot of offenses because an episode of domestic violence can take many forms. That said, certain alleged offenses that still qualify as domestic violence crimes sit outside that definition, because domestic violence is normally defined as a crime that causes “physical injury or death.” Verbal abuse can still qualify as domestic abuse, but may do so under a slightly different set of circumstances.

What Does The Law Say?

The relevant statute defines domestic violence in Florida as any criminal offense which causes physical injury or death to one of the perpetrator’s “family or household member[s]” – generally spouses, ex-spouses, co-parents, family by blood or marriage, and people who are (or were) living with the perpetrator in a family-type setting. A list of crimes is included in the statute, such as kidnapping, sexual assault, and false imprisonment, among others.

While the list of crimes in Sec. 741.28 is not intended to be exhaustive, they do share one major characteristic – they are all crimes that involve physical injury, as one might expect given the explicit definition of the statute. However, Florida law does allow some offenses where nothing more than shouting may have occurred to be tried under the aegis of domestic violence law. The reason is in the pattern, rather than the outcome of the crime.

A Pattern of Harassment

Most instances of domestic violence are based around one person causing physical injury to another. However, Florida includes ‘assault’ in its definition of domestic violence crimes, and assault is a crime defined as a threat to do violence to someone – not the actual act of doing violence itself. Popular culture often confuses the two, but the threat of violent action is assault, while the actual commission of a violent act is battery.

In creative hands, words are just as potent a weapon as anything that causes physical harm, and it can unfortunately be quite easy for some people to verbally assault someone strongly enough to place them in reasonable fear of becoming a victim of physical violence. The fear must be reasonable, and only cases where a pattern of verbal harassment and intimidation are present will be enough to serve as evidence, but nonetheless, the evidence is there.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

It is generally not possible to charge someone with domestic violence solely on the strength of verbal abuse, but it can serve as potent evidence of a pattern of assaults. A West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help answer any questions and guide you through the legal process if you have become a target. Contact our office today to speak to an attorney.


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