fighting couple - domestic violence laws in FL

Domestic Violence & the Law

Many people believe domestic abuse and domestic violence are chargeable offenses under Florida criminal law, but technically, that’s not true. In this blog post, Hager & Schwartz will show you that the legal meaning of domestic violence is much more significant than many people are aware of.

The Definition of Domestic Violence

As stated by the Florida Statues website, domestic violence in Florida means, “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.”

This definition surprises people because many believe domestic violence is what Florida calls battery, defined as “actually and intentionally touching or striking another person against the will of the other.” However, as you can see, battery is only one of the many charges that fit under the definition of domestic violence.

Let’s look at the definitions of each sub-offense of Florida’s domestic violence definition.


Assault is the “intentional, unlawful threat by word or acts 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.”

Under domestic violence, assault charges are credible threats made against a family or household member that are seemingly going to happen. When a plausible threat is made with a deadly weapon, the domestic violence charge is increased to an aggravated assault charge.

Assault charges are second-degree misdemeanors under Florida law.


As stated earlier, a battery charge is defined as “actually and intentionally touching or striking another person against the will of the other.”

When a deadly weapon is used to execute the battery, or if the battery causes the victim great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; it becomes an aggravated battery charge.

Battery charges are first-degree misdemeanors, but aggravated battery charges are second-degree felonies.

Sexual Battery

Sexual battery is defined as oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object.

The severity of a sexual battery charge is dependent on the age of the victim. For example, sexual battery against someone who is younger than 12 is charged as a capital felony, while sexual battery against someone older than 18 is a first-degree felony.


Stalking is defined as, “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking someone else. You may be surprised to learn that stalking between family members is possible and that family members make most restraining orders against family members. Stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida law.

When someone stalks someone else and makes a credible threat against that person, then the stalker can be charged with aggravated stalking. Aggravated stalking is a third-degree felony under Florida law.


One of the more serious domestic violence sub crimes, kidnapping is defined as “forcibly, secretly, or by threat confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person against her or his will and without lawful authority, with intent to:

  1. Hold for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage.
  2. Commit or facilitate the commission of any felony.
  3. Inflict bodily harm upon or to terrorize the victim or another person.
  4. Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.

Kidnapping is a first-degree felony under Florida law.

False Imprisonment

Interestingly, false imprisonment is considered a case of domestic violence if a family member causes the other family member’s imprisonment. False imprisonment is defined as, “forcibly, by threat, or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining another person without lawful authority and against her or his will.”

False imprisonment is a third-degree felony under Florida law.

Get Representation for Your Domestic Violence Case

As you can see, domestic violence is much more than one spouse hitting another spouse.

Domestic violence can be any of the following charges:

  • Assault;
  • Battery;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Stalking;
  • Kidnapping;
  • False imprisonment; and
  • Other violent crimes.

However, if you’re accused of domestic violence, our firm can help! Hager & Schwartz has assisted thousands of clients through their criminal charges. Our domestic violence attorneys understand that there are two sides to every domestic dispute, and they believe every person has the right to just representation.

If you’re ready to talk a domestic violence attorney, call (954) 840-8713 now for a free consultation!