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Does Verbal Abuse Count as Domestic Violence in Florida?

Understanding How Florida State Law Handles Verbal Assault

Domestic violence is a serious issue, and Florida law has harsh penalties for domestic violence convictions. However, when domestic altercations occur, knowing what genuinely constitutes domestic violence can be tricky. Consequently, understanding the boundary between a heated argument and abuse is crucial. While Florida's definition of domestic violence is straightforward, how verbal assault or abuse fits into that definition is less clear.

Keep reading for a review of critical statutes that help us understand when verbal abuse may constitute domestic violence in the eyes of the law.

Defining Domestic Violence and Verbal Assault Under Florida Law

Florida Statute 741.28 defines domestic violence as "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."

While verbal abuse doesn't feature explicitly in this list, verbal abuse of a family or household typically falls under the category of assault.

According to Florida Statute 784.011, assault is defined as "an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent."

As such, instances of verbal abuse could be considered domestic violence if they involve a threat of violence that creates a credible fear in the victim.

When Words Cross the Line: Verbal Assault as Domestic Violence

Most people have been in an argument with a loved one, but at what point does a heated argument become abuse or assault? This is somewhat of a grey area, and an incident's severity and surrounding circumstances will ultimately be the guiding factor. Additionally, while any one-off occurrence of verbal abuse may not lead to a domestic violence arrest, specific behaviors recurring frequently can signify a more profound issue that does result in criminal charges.

Examples of verbal assault can include the following:

  • Threats: Uttering words indicating an intent to harm can be highly distressing and can sometimes meet the legal criterion for verbal assault.
  • Demeaning Comments: Continuous, severe belittling or humiliation can be damaging and may fall under patterns of abuse.
  • Isolation Tactics: Attempts to cut someone off from loved ones can be considered controlling behavior akin to emotional abuse.
  • Coercion: Forcing someone to act against their will through threats or intimidation may be considered abusive.

Potential Penalties for Domestic Violence Convictions in Florida

If convicted of domestic violence, whether the charges stemmed from verbal abuse or something else, the convicted party faces serious consequences. Fines and mandatory incarceration, restraining orders, and a criminal record are the immediate consequences of a conviction.

Convictions might also result in mandatory counseling, community service, or completion of a batterers' intervention program. Meanwhile, in your personal life, you may face complications with divorce and custody cases, as well as an impact on your job and reputation.

Why You Should Consider Hiring an Attorney

If you find yourself amidst allegations of domestic violence following a verbal altercation, consulting with an experienced defense attorney is strongly recommended. Legal proceedings in domestic violence cases are often complex and require a thorough understanding of statutes and precedents. A defense attorney experienced in handling verbal assault-related domestic violence cases can help you develop a customized defense strategy and advocate for your rights in court proceedings.

The compassionate yet professional team at Mazin Law takes a detail-oriented approach to each case. We understand how prosecutors pursue these cases and work hard to stay abreast of changes in domestic violence laws, leveraging our knowledge for your benefit.

If you or a loved one was charged with domestic violence stemming from alleged verbal abuse, contact Mazin Law online to schedule a consultation.

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