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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Identifying Crimes Of Domestic Violence In Florida

Identifying Crimes Of Domestic Violence In Florida


Domestic violence has a variety of definitions, depending on the context in which the term is used. In the legal sense, the definition particularly must be exact, given that someone may wind up deprived of their liberty if convicted. Florida’s is specific, but also wide-ranging, allowing many more people than just spouses to file a complaint if they believe they have experienced domestic violence.

Many Possible Victims & Perpetrators

Domestic violence is not a specific offense in Florida; rather, the underlying crime is tried, and domestic violence is a factor used to determine a person’s sentence if convicted. The statute sets out specific crimes which qualify, such as assault, battery, kidnapping, and stalking, but it also widens the proverbial net to include any criminal offense “resulting in physical injury or death” to the victim. Essentially, if the alleged offense fits the criteria, and the state’s attorney decides charges are worth pursuing, the alleged perpetrator will be charged.

Another criteria in determining whether an event falls under the umbrella of domestic violence is the status of the victim and perpetrator. Both must be “family or household member[s],” which Florida defines as sharing certain relationships. If the victim and alleged abuser are spouses, ex-spouses, co-parents, related by blood or marriage, or have been (or are) living together as a family, the perpetrator may be tried for a crime of domestic violence. The sentences for these crimes will vary depending on the specifics of the situation, but the presence of domestic violence will generally lengthen a sentence by a significant margin if the perpetrator is convicted.

Must Abuse Be Physical?

If you have been arrested for an alleged offense, it is important to keep in mind that even if the offense meets the other criteria, you must have caused physical injury or death to the victim for the crime to truly be charged under Florida’s domestic violence statute. The statute explicitly requires a crime of domestic violence to cause ‘physical injury or death,’ meaning that someone who has not experienced physical violence may have a more difficult time making an accusation of domestic violence stick.

That said, just because an action may not qualify as a crime of domestic violence does not mean that it does not qualify as a crime. For example, financial or economic abuse, in which a person takes control of joint finances and the other partner’s ability to earn money, may fall under laws against theft or elder abuse (depending on the age of the victim). Emotional abuse may, in certain situations, fall under intentional infliction of emotional distress. You may yet have options.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Abuse Attorney

It is a good idea to consult an attorney if you suspect that you have been involved in an abusive situation, whether as perpetrator or victim. A West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can advise you as to your rights and responsibilities, and help ensure your rights are protected through the legal process. Contact our office today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.



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