Domestic violence isn't just a term of art. It is a legal designation for certain types of cases. Your case can either qualify as domestic violence, or it will not.
Florida law defines "domestic violence" as: “...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." Florida Statute sec. 741.28(2).
“'Family or household member'" means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit." Florida Statute sec. 741.28(3).
So domestic violence pretty much means any act of violence committed against a family member or household member. A household member can be somebody with whom you resided, have resided in the past (ex-spouse or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend), or someone with whom you have a child in common.
Acts of violence against strangers, persons with whom you do not have a familial relationship, even dating relationships where the two parties don't live together nor have children in common, would not qualify as domestic violence.
Most Florida court systems have special divisions that hear only domestic violence cases. Domestic violence cases are treated much differently than non-domestic violence cases. In essence, it is much worse to face a domestic violence charge than a non-domestic charge.
Sometimes cases are erroneously filed in domestic violence divisions or treated as domestic violence cases when they are not.
Speak with your attorney to make sure that your case is treated properly. You don't want to face domestic violence sanctions when domestic violence does not apply to your case.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach.