Domestic violence, also referred to as intimate partner violence (IVP), is a serious national problem. Roughly 41% of women and 26% of men experience domestic violence.
Most people think of physical violence when they hear the term domestic violence. Sadly, domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse.
Examples of domestic violence include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Economic abuse
- Technological abuse
Victims of domestic violence can suffer for years before they obtain help. They might sustain numerous physical injuries. Additionally, they may suffer from overwhelming and crippling emotional and mental trauma.
A person can face criminal charges for domestic violence. They could be subject to fines, jail time, and other criminal penalties. The criminal justice system holds people accountable when they break the law.
However, an abuser could also be sued in civil court for domestic violence. The civil court system holds parties liable for damages when they cause a person harm or injury. Therefore, if you are a victim of domestic violence in Florida, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages from the person who caused the harm.
What Are the Domestic Laws in Florida?
Under Florida criminal laws, domestic violence is defined as a violent crime against a biological family member or other individuals who live with them. Domestic violence includes abuse or violence against a current or former spouse or intimate partner.
There is not one specific charge for “domestic violence” under Florida law. Instead, Florida Statute §741.28 defines domestic violence as:
- Aggravated battery
- Aggravated assault
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated stalking
- Sexual battery
- False imprisonment
- Any criminal offense resulting in death or physical injury
A person can be charged with domestic violence if they commit any of the above criminal acts. The person could be charged with more than one crime, depending on the facts of the case.
The underlying offense and the facts of the case determine whether the domestic violence is a felony or misdemeanor. In addition to fines and jail time, the abuser can be subject to a restraining order. Domestic violence allegations can also impact child custody cases and damage your reputation.
Should I Sue an Abuser in Civil Court for Domestic Violence?
A criminal court case is separate from a civil lawsuit. The criminal charges are heard in criminal court. The judge could order the person to pay restitution, but the restitution probably will not compensate you for all damages caused by domestic violence.
Damages caused by domestic violence can include economic damages, such as:
- Medical bills
- Therapy costs
- Lost wages
In addition to financial losses, a civil lawsuit for domestic violence can compensate the victim for non-economic damages. These damages include emotional distress, mental anguish, and physical pain. It also includes disfigurement, impairments, scarring, and loss of enjoyment of life.
You can file a civil lawsuit even if the state does not charge your abuser with a crime. The same is true if the abuser is acquitted of criminal charges. Your case for damages falls under personal injury laws — not criminal law. With the help of a personal injury lawyer in Florida, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses.
You can also seek an order of protection (also known as a restraining order) against your abuser to prevent them from contacting you or going near you.
What Should I Do if I Want to Sue for Domestic Violence in Florida?
A domestic violence lawyer in Florida can help you. Most attorneys offer free consultations. Therefore, meeting with a lawyer about the case does not cost you anything.
If you plan to sue your abuser or file for a restraining order, you’ll need evidence proving you suffered abuse. Collect as much evidence about domestic violence as possible to take to your meeting with a lawyer.
Evidence could include:
- Copies of police reports
- Restraining orders and protective orders already in place
- Medical records
- Photographs of your injuries
- Copies of written documents and online communication
- Counseling and therapist records
- List of witnesses
An attorney can continue the investigation to obtain additional evidence to support your claim. A lawyer can also help you retain expert witnesses and specialists to testify about the extent of your injuries and damages.
Securing sound legal advice is the first step in holding the abuser accountable for their conduct.
Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today
For more information, contact our experienced Orlando divorce lawyers at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC by calling (407) 831-0203 to schedule a free consultation.
Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803