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How is domestic violence defined?

Many people may think that a severe physical assault has to occur for an incident to be considered domestic violence. While it is true that these types of situations occur, there are other behaviors and actions that can also fall under Florida's domestic violence laws. Understanding how domestic violence is defined and dealt with in the state of Florida is an important first step for both victims and those who stand accused.

The relationship between the two parties is one of the most important factors when it comes to determining if an incident qualifies as domestic violence. In Florida, domestic violence can occur between spouses, ex-spouses, parents who are not and have never been married, and relatives by blood or marriage.

Other situations that may qualify include incidents between those who currently live together or have lived together in the past or any parties who have been involved in a dating relationship. In the latter case, the relationship must have been intimate, sexual or romantic in nature. This means that an incident between two friends who were never involved romantically would not qualify as domestic violence.

When there are accusations of domestic violence, one of the most common outcomes is that one party seeks a restraining order against the other — usually handled by a family law attorney. In the case of a conviction on criminal charges, Florida law allows for sentences ranging from probation and community service all the way up to jail time. In addition to the domestic violence charges, there is also the possibility of additional criminal charges being brought against the aggressor.

Source: FindLaw, "Florida Domestic Violence Laws," accessed April 05, 2016

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