The Florida law that defines domestic violence (DV) is Statute 741.28. While it provides that the crime generally occurs when a person engages in conduct that may result in physical injury to a family or household member, it also lists several offenses that can result in a criminal charge. In this blog, we'll discuss what constitutes an act of domestic violence.
What Is a Family or Household Member?
Before exploring the different types of conduct that may lead to a domestic violence accusation, let's first look at who the crime might be committed against. As mentioned earlier, Florida law says that the offense involves a person harming or attempting to harm their family or household member. But who is classified as such?
Florida defines a family or household member as a:
- Former spouse,
- Relative by blood or marriage,
- Person living with others as a family or having lived in such a situation in the past, or
- Person who shares a child with another (whether or not the two were ever married).
Family or household members must currently be living together or have done so previously in the same house. However, the requirement does not hold for people who have a child together. They are considered family or household members regardless of whether they have ever lived together.
What Crimes Are Domestic Violence Offenses?
Any time a person physically harms a family or household member or attempts to do so, they can be charged with domestic violence. However, the law also enumerates 10 specific offenses that can fall under the DV category.
The following acts constitute domestic violence:
- Assault: If someone intentionally threatens violence against a family or household member, they could be charged with DV. The person making the threat must appear to be able to carry it out, and the alleged victim reasonably fear that they're at risk of harm.
- Aggravated assault: A person may be accused of domestic violence if they commit an assault on a family or household member. Additionally, they must either have a deadly weapon on them during the offense or intend to commit a felony against the alleged victim.
- Battery: This offense is committed when a person actually touches or strikes another and causes bodily harm.
- Aggravated battery: A domestic violence charge may arise when a person touches or strikes a family or household member and uses a deadly weapon or causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.
- Sexual assault/sexual battery: Engaging in unwanted sexual conduct with another is a crime. It is considered a DV offense when committed against a family or household member.
- Stalking: A person may be accused of domestic violence if they willfully and maliciously follow, harass, or cyberstalk a family or household member. To harass means to do something, without good reason, over a period of time that causes emotional distress to the alleged victim.
- Aggravated stalking: This charge may arise when a person stalks a family or household member and makes a credible threat. A credible threat is defined as one that causes reasonable fear in the alleged victim and one the offender could carry out.
- Kidnapping: This offense occurs when a person confines, abducts, or imprisons a family or household member without authority or permission. Additionally, the alleged offender must intend to hold the victim for ransom or as a hostage, commit a felony, inflict bodily harm, or interfere with government activity.
- False imprisonment: A person may be charged with a DV offense if they use force, secrecy, or threat to confine, abduct, imprison, or restrain a family or household member.