Domestic battery and domestic abuse are two of the most heinous acts than can occur in households today. But what is the legal difference, if any, between these two nefarious behaviors?
Here is a broad definition of both domestic battery and domestic abuse, along with potential penalties for each offense.
What Is the Legal Definition of Domestic Battery?
Domestic battery is a serious crime that involves physical harm, threat of harm, or unwanted physical contact against someone in the same household. The legal specifics can vary by state and country, but the crime generally includes any harmful or offensive touching of a family member, intimate partner, or domestic partner.
What Is the Legal Definition of Domestic Abuse?
According to family law, domestic abuse can be behavior that is controlling, coercive, threatening, deceptive, degrading, and so on.
- Financial abuse
- Religious abuse
- Verbal belittlement
- Emotional manipulation
Domestic Battery Penalties in Florida
When any one person physically attacks another, the law classifies this act as “battery.” In the U.S., there are specific laws in place for domestic battery, or violence between people who live together and/or have a close relationship. Domestic violence penalties vary from state to state.
In Florida, a domestic battery conviction can result in:
- Fines up to $1,000
- Community service hours
- Restraining orders against the offender
- Jail time or probation between 5 days and 1 year
- Court-ordered counseling, called the Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP), lasting 26 weeks; offenders must pay for this program
Domestic battery in Florida can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the victim’s injuries and any prior convictions. These “aggravating” circumstances will make penalties sharper as well.
Not All Forms of Domestic Abuse Are Crimes
Domestic abuse can take on many forms, and not all of them are considered crimes. Physical abuse, sexual assault, and harassment are all crimes, but behaviors such as emotional abuse and financial control are not explicitly illegal.
These types of abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse, but often go unnoticed or unreported. It is important to recognize that any form of abuse is unacceptable and seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing it.
Handling Domestic Abuse in Family Court
Even if the state cannot criminally prosecute your abuser, you can still hold them accountable in divorce court.
Domestic abuse allegations can have a massive impact on child custody rulings. The court always rules in a child’s best interests. If it finds that there is a history of abuse, it may decide that the abusive parent cannot have custody or visitation. This is true even if the child only witnessed abuse and was never directly harmed. The court can grant sole custody to the non-abusive parent or require supervised visitation under strict conditions.
Abuse can also affect the division of assets in a divorce settlement. The court may award the victim a larger share of the marital assets. Additionally, if the abusive spouse is ordered to pay support, the court can consider the history of domestic abuse, and order them to pay a greater amount. In this way, a family court acts like a civil court, providing financial compensation for injuries.
Divorce courts may also issue restraining orders that are effective before, during, and/or after the divorce.
If you’ve suffered any form of abuse in the home, Russell S. Hershkowitz, L.L.C. can help. We can act quickly to secure restraining orders, and we can help you prove your claims in court. If you need assistance, call us right away at (407) 753-4111 or contact us online.