This article analyzes the argumentative construction of various legal operators regarding the use of cruel or insidious means in homicides of women in domestic violence situations. A survey was conducted to this end, considering all lawsuits of female homicide qualified by the use of cruel or insidious means (Art. 121, §2º, III, Brazilian Penal Code) with res judicata that occurred in domestic and family violence situations in Brazil’s Federal District from 2006 to 2011. In addition, 13 cases were reviewed, whose autopsy reports and main pleadings were analyzed in order to assess how medical experts, prosecutors and judges have applied the qualifier of cruel and insidious means, and if there was any standard for this qualification. Moreover, the analysis includes how domestic violence was addressed in these cases and how the Maria da Penha Act was applied.