Domestic Violence: A Legal Definition and How to Face Accusations
Domestic violence charges are serious and, if you’ve been accused of it, you’re going to want to understand exactly how it is defined. Learn more.
Each year, over 10 million men and women are victims of domestic violence. Interestingly, though, not everyone understands how domestic violence is legally defined.
On top of that, it can also be difficult to deal with accusations of domestic violence (especially if you’re innocent). Fortunately, there’s information you can keep in mind that can help you out in the future.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.
How Is Domestic Violence Defined?
By definition, domestic violence refers to physical abuse that occurs within a domestic setting, such as a family home.
Although the term may seem straightforward, it includes a broad range of scenarios where it applies. These can include violence against children, spouses, intimate partners, or former romantic interests.
In general, the type of violence that occurs includes strangulation, beating, etc., but could also include assaulting an individual with a weapon. Although anger is a commonly given reason for why domestic violence occurs, many incidents involve the perpetrator exerting force on another person as a form of control.
Although the term clearly mentions violence, it can also include the following behavior:
- Destruction of property
- Sexual abuse
- Stalking a current/former partner
As previously mentioned, this must occur within a domestic setting or involve a current/former partner.
What Are Typical Scenarios?
Since the term ‘violence’ is used so loosely in the definition, it can apply to a vast array of scenarios. Even scenarios that aren’t outright violent could still be legally defined in this manner.
For instance, appearing at a former spouse’s place of employment to speak with them could easily result in a situation that involves law enforcement.
Let’s explore a few of the most common scenarios that people encounter.
The Jealous Partner
There are many cases where a partner’s jealousy gets the better of them. For instance, a woman’s boyfriend may feel strong resentment after she comes home late at night after spending time with friends at a bar.
He may even begin to convince himself that he was unfaithful to him, or that she’s intentionally disrespecting their relationship by acting in a such a manner.
Even though the situation is entirely benign, he may begin to yell at her and verbally abuse her, eventually pushing her to the ground and kicking her in the stomach in a fit of rage. In many situations, this type of domestic violence is a ‘heat of the moment’ sort of incident and isn’t typical behavior that the individual exhibits.
Additionally, alcohol or drug consumption often play large roles.
The Controlling Spouse
Similar to the above scenario, a spouse may feel entitled to a certain type of behavior for their partner. This is especially true regarding perceived disrespect or infidelity.
A scenario you may find here is a woman demanding that her wife complete a certain number of chores before she gets home from work. Upon seeing that the kitchen is in disarray, an argument ensues.
In an attempt to ‘teach her partner a lesson,’ she assaults her by forcefully throwing unwashed pots and pans. This is used to establish a hierarchy in a household while simultaneously illuminating what consequences occur if demands aren’t met.
The Tumultuous Couple
It’s entirely possible for domestic violence to be a two-way street in a relationship. As previously mentioned, ‘heat of the moment’ situations can easily lead to a physical assault.
A couple prone to arguing may frequently put their hands on one another during their disagreement, and many of these incidents can involve using force as a form of self-defense.
These situations also involve forms of domestic violence that aren’t outright malicious, such as a shove leading to grabbing someone’s wrists during an argument as opposed to striking, using weapons, etc.
How to Handle Accusations
One of the most complicating aspects of domestic violence is that it can be fairly difficult to handle a situation in which you’re accused of the crime. This is particularly true given that two partners may have different interpretations of violence.
For instance, a man who grabs a woman by the shoulders may not view this as a violent act since he never physically struck her. His partner, however, may feel traumatized by the situation and may choose to file a domestic violence report.
If you’ve been accused of this crime, one of the primary actions you should take is to remain silent about the incident. This is especially true when speaking to law enforcement (even if this means that you get arrested).
For instance, if your partner calls the police after an argument, tell them that you’ll answer basic questions (such as personal info) but won’t discuss the incident without a lawyer present.
Additionally, you should compile any evidence that you may have regarding the other person’s behavior. This can include audio or video recording, injuries you may have, destroyed property, etc.
You should also ensure that you contact a reputable attorney as soon as possible to help you navigate through the nuances associated with these accusations. An experienced professional could mean the difference between walking away free or suffering the legal consequences of a domestic violence conviction.
I’ve Been Accused: What Next?
You should contact a reputable legal professional as soon as possible. They’ll do all they can to help legally protect you and tenure things go smoothly from there on out.
Want to learn more about how we can help? Feel free to get in touch with us today to see what we can do.