The short answer to this question is yes—any action can be misconstrued by law enforcement or prosecutors, especially when an estranged or former spouse makes an accusation. Florida allows for corporal punishment of children, but the law is left open to interpretation to some degree. If you have been accused of domestic or family violence for disciplining your child, your first move should be to call a defense attorney. You may be confident that you didn’t cross a line with your child, but that doesn’t mean the state will agree. Domestic violence defense attorney Daniel Izquierdo will fight for your right to discipline your child appropriately without facing criminal charges.
What Does Florida Law Say About Appropriate Discipline?
In defining child abuse, Florida statute 39.01(2) states, “Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.” The key phrase here is “harm to the child.” This is where interpretation can play a role. Florida law defines harm as “physical, mental, or emotional injury,” so even if your child’s spanking did not cause physical injury, you could be accused of causing a mental or emotional injury. Generally speaking, corporal punishment should be limited to using the hand to spank the buttocks and should not cause any of the following:
- Sprains or dislocations
- Scalds or burns
- Internal hemorrhage
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Emotional effects such as fear, anxiety, or withdrawal
In Florida, domestic violence is defined as “assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery…or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” It’s easy to see how corporal punishment of a child could be seen as abuse or domestic violence. Slapping, punching, shoving, or grabbing a child—even a teenager—could be charged as abuse.
Have You Been Accused Of Domestic Violence In Florida?
You and your partner may not be at a good point in your relationship right now, but if your partner takes that a step further by accusing you of domestic violence, you need to fight back to protect your freedom. If you are frustrated about a domestic violence charge that is disrupting your life you need to speak with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.
I also recommend that you download a free copy of our special report "He Said, She Said: Three Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Domestic Violence Case In Florida". The sooner we talk, the sooner we will be able to help you fight the charges that could change your life forever.