Definition of Domestic Violence

When we think of domestic violence, we typically think of physical abuse like punching and slapping; however, Florida law defines domestic violence as much more than physical action. You may be surprised to learn that police can charge someone with domestic violence without him ever laying a finger on another person. With that being said, it’s crucial to understand the definition of domestic violence to stay informed and be aware of possible police charges.

Definition of Domestic Violence

In Florida, the definition of domestic violence as stated on the Florida Senate website states, “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”

Therefore, the following physical actions are considered domestic violence:

  • Slapping;
  • Punching;
  • Throwing an item;
  • Kicking;
  • Tripping;
  • Pushing or pulling; and
  • Any kind of sexual assault.

Nonphysical Assault

However, this definition extends past physical violence; in fact, this definition reaches into nonphysical topics like assault and stalking. Nonphysical assault is when someone threatens a family member with violence. A credible threat of violence can come in the form of threats to one’s psychological, physical, and emotional health.

It is important to note that Florida police can arrest people for threats of violence even if they never act out their threats.  Therefore, if a spouse says they will hurt the other spouse, they could be charged for domestic violence regardless of their actions after their statement.

Stalking

In addition to nonphysical violence, stalking is also considered domestic violence. Stalking is constant harassment that causes emotional distress; therefore, someone who follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another family member could be charged for domestic violence.

Cyberstalking is when someone targets a person using words, images, or language by way of electronic mail (email) or electronic communication (text message, social media, etc.) to cause substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.

It is important to note that if the harasser includes a credible threat within their harassments, he or she could be charged with aggravated stalking or domestic violence by the district attorney’s office.

Domestic Violence Charges Aren’t Straightforward

As you can see, domestic violence charges are not as straightforward as you might have guessed. When we consider the fact that domestic violence charges can stem from nonphysical behaviors, it becomes hard to determine what constitutes actually a domestic violence charge.

Consider the following scenario; say there is a couple who frequently argues with one another. One night one spouse says they will hurt the other if they forget to do the dishes and a neighbor overhears and calls the cops. Is the spouse guilty of domestic violence, or was the threat actually “credible” in nature? These are the subjective questions that come from nonphysical charges of domestic violence.

We hope this blog clarifies the actual breaking of Florida domestic violence charges. Domestic violence charges can be physical violence, audible threats of violence, or stalking. If you or a loved one is accused of domestic violence, our firm can help! Contact Hager & Schwartz, P.A. now for a free consultation for your domestic violence case.

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