What You Need to Know About How to Sue an Abuser in Florida

Different cases of abuse and the individuals involved correspond to different laws in Florida. Here’s how to sue an abuser in Florida.

Abusive behaviors may occur in physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, and economic forms. Definitions and penalties of abuse and violence are documented in the Statues of Floridian law.

Domestic Violence in Florida

Domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that’s used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner.” Forms of domestic violence may include:

  • Stalking
  • Rape
  • Making threats
  • Forcing drugs
  • Isolation
  • Humiliation
  • Withholding access to economic resources and independence

The Florida Statutes 741.28 defines the “family or household member” involved in domestic violence as any individual related to the victim by blood or by marriage. Many states prohibit suing family members but Florida does not.

Related: How Domestic Violence Affects Divorce in Florida

Suing Domestic Violence Abusers in Florida

Civil Law

There are multiple ways a domestic violence case may be brought to court. In a civil lawsuit, the victim will usually sue for a personal injury claim by providing proof of domestic abuse such as property damages or physical harm records.

If the case is established, the abuser is penalized with payments of any medical expenses, lost wages, and wrongful death. People who are injured or harmed are protected by civil laws. Generally, victims could sue abusers for intentional tort, which refers to intentionally harming another person.

Criminal Law

When a case is brought to criminal court, it will be charged with domestic violence offenses by domestic violence laws. Penalties may include at least 1 year of probation, a mandatory intervention program, at least 10 days of prison time for a first offense, at least 15 days of prison time for a second offense, and community service. Note that the same case could be tried in both criminal and civil courts.


Besides suing the abuser, victims may also apply for an injunction. An injunction is a restraining order used for protection against domestic violence. When a perpetrator is under injunction, they cannot go back to the shared household. Violation of an injunction is a first degree misdemeanor and may be punishable by up to 1 year of prison time.

Child Abuse in Florida

In Florida, child abuse is a third degree felony. The Florida Statutes 827.03 define child abuse as “intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child” and also include “neglect of a child” where the caregiver failed to provide necessary care for a child’s physical and mental health. Any abusive action against a minor that is mentally, physically, psychologically, or sexually harmful is child abuse. Cases of child abuse may include:

  • Forcing a child to engage in sexual activities
  • Burning
  • Kicking
  • Deny access to food
  • Deny access to medical needs
  • Deny access to isolation
  • Name-calling
  • Isolation
  • Actively encouraging another person to abuse a child

DUI with the presence of a child in the vehicle

Aggravated child abuse refers to willful torture or abusive actions inflicted upon a child that caused permanent damages. It is a first degree felony. Cases of aggravated child abuse may include:

  • Willful Caging
  • Physical harms that caused permanent disability to walk
  • Physical harms that caused permanent bodily disfigurement
  • Severe torture that left great trauma

Related: Understanding the Rights of Domestic Violence Survivors

Suing Child Abusers in Florida

Children cannot sue their parents in Florida because of “parent immunity” intending to “protect family units.” However, there are exceptions. If a third party could provide evidence of child abuse, they can sue the parents for the children. In a case where a child died or is seriously injured in an accident due to parental negligence, a representative or the child with the help of a guardian can sue the parents for compensation. When a child abuse case is established, the court will usually appoint a guardian other than the parents to take care of the child and the guardian will be the person to represent the child in court, for minors cannot sue on their own behalf.

Intentional Tort

Victims suing for child abuse may sue for intentional tort. The child has a 4-year statute of limitations to sue for intentional tort after leaving the dependency of the abuser and has a 7-year statute of limitations to sue after turning legal.


Child abuse is punishable by up to 5 years of prison time, 5 years of probation, and $5000 fine. Aggravated child abuse is punishable by up to 30 years of prison time, 30 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine. Negligence of a child is punishable by up to 5 years of prison time, 5 years of probation, and a $5000 fine if there were no permanent damages, and is punishable by up to 15 years of prison time, 15 years of probation, and $10,000 of fine if there were permanent damages.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Sue an Abuser in Florida, get connected to an attorney with one of our Domestic Violence Attorneys in Florida today!