When someone is a victim of domestic violence, seeking safety and justice can feel overwhelming and frightening. California laws take domestic violence seriously, but working through the system can be daunting. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Considered Domestic Violence Under California Law?
Several behaviors and disturbances are considered domestic violence under California law. If something has been happening to you that doesn’t appear on this list, contact an experienced domestic violence attorney to discuss your specific situation, as it may very well be a form of domestic violence.
- Physical abuse or injury
- Sexual assault
- Threats of physical abuse, injury, or sexual assault
- Causes someone to fear that they or someone else is in immediate danger of violence and injury
- Stalking, threats, or harassment (such as through phone calls, following someone, emails, etc.)
- Destroys personal property belonging to the victim
Are Different Kinds of Emotional Abuse Considered Domestic Violence?
Absolutely. Domestic violence is not always the kind of harm that leaves bruises or broken bones. According to California law, the following can be considered domestic violence when one person inflicts any of them on another.
- Refuses to allow access to basic needs (food, medical care, etc.)
- Isolates someone from family, friends, and other sources of support
- Insists on being involved in every form of communication or activities (including monitoring bank accounts, cell phone usage, etc.)
- Forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do or preventing them from doing something they do want to do
What Relationships Are Considered Valid for Domestic Violence Claims?
Sometimes, people think domestic violence charges can only be brought against a spouse. However, the law casts a much wider net than that. In California, someone could be charged with domestic violence if they have any of the following relationships.
- Current or former spouse
- Current or former domestic partner
- The other parent of your child
- Girlfriend/boyfriend or similar relationship
- Someone who’s related via marriage or blood
If there’s another person involved in violence that doesn’t fit this list, contact us to determine how the law may apply (or a different law may apply) to protect you. There are situations in which the abuse may fall into other categories, such as child abuse or elder abuse.
What Consequences Can Being Convicted of Domestic Violence Have in California?
The consequences will vary according to the severity of the incident(s) and if there’s a prior history. The following are examples, but each case is unique and will result in different punishments being assigned. Some domestic violence cases are what’s called “wobblers,” meaning they can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the offense and the criminal record of the accused.
- Restraining orders. This is one of the quickest consequences in which a judge orders the alleged abuser to stay away from the victim for a specific period.
- Jail time. Convictions can lead to sentences ranging from one year in county jail to up to six years in state prison.
- Fines. If convicted, someone could be ordered to pay fines ranging from $2,000-4,000.
- Victim restitution. When the victim suffered bodily harm or emotional trauma, the convicted abuser may be required to pay the victim’s medical costs.
- Criminal record. Someone convicted of domestic violence will have a permanent criminal record.
- Batterer’s program. Someone convicted of domestic violence may be required to undergo counseling or participation in an anti-domestic violence program.
- Loss of custody and/or visitation rights. A conviction can be accompanied by temporary or permanent loss of custody and/or visitation rights with their children.
- Loss of gun rights. When someone is given a criminal conviction involving domestic violence, they’re prohibited from owning a gun.
- Immigration issues. If the person convicted is an immigrant, they may be deported to their country of origin or stripped of their U.S. citizenship.
What Does It Take to Succeed with a Domestic Violence Case in California?
Every case is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits-all list of what it takes to build a successful case against a domestic abuser. It can be difficult if the abuser is someone you live with who monitors most of your actions. But here are some things that can help build a stronger case.
- Photos and videos. If someone has been injured and has bruises or other noticeable harm, photos and videos can be evidence, as can images of items the abuser broke (lamps, tableware, etc.) or of weapons the abuser used, whether to actually harm or to threaten.
- Medical records. If the injuries resulted in medical visits and it’s possible to talk with a nurse or doctor separately from the abuser, let them know what’s happening and ask for their help. The medical records will document both the injuries and the request for assistance, and they may have resources to help you escape in the short term, which could provide time to start the legal process.
- Police reports. If the police have been called, whether by you or a concerned neighbor or family member, those reports can be evidence.
- Eyewitness testimony.
- Personal diary. Keeping personal records of the abuse can help a legal case.
What Should I Do if I’m the Victim of Domestic Violence in California?
Call Reel Fathers Rights at 909-323-7962 to request an initial consultation. We understand this is a traumatic, stressful time. We also understand you’re concerned about being taken seriously as a man reporting domestic violence. We’re here to guide you through this challenging time while advocating for your rights and safety. We will work to help you achieve the best possible outcomes.