Domestic violence is a big problem in Orange County. This page provides basic information for victims. It also provides information for men and women who have been falsely accused of domestic abuse. The information on this page should help you evaluate whether or not you need to hire a domestic violence attorney. It is not a substitute for speaking with an attorney, but will provide you with a solid foundation.
This webpage will cover the following topics:
- California Family Law Definition of Domestic Violence
- Who Might Be Involved in Domestic Violence?
- Types of Criminal Charges in Domestic Violence Cases
- What Rights Do the Victims Have and What Can They Do to Protect Themselves?
- Working with a California Domestic Violence Attorney
California Family Law Definition of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence laws were created to give special protection to people who could potentially become victims because of their relationship to the abuser. It was also created as a guideline to severely punish those who break the laws. California Penal Code 13700 defines “abuse” and “domestic violence” as:
(a) “Abuse” means intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, or placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to himself or herself, or another. (b) “Domestic violence” means abuse committed against an adult or a minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship.
Domestic violence happens when a person abuses or threats another person that he/she has or had a relationship with. The domestic violence laws define abuse as:
- Hurting or trying to hurt someone physically, whether intentionally or recklessly
- Sexual assault
- Making someone reasonably afraid, for themselves or someone else, of being seriously hurt
- Abusive behavior such as hitting someone, threatening, stalking, harassing, disturbing the peace, or destroying someone else’s personal property
Without getting too technical, physical abuse covers not only hitting, but also kicking, shoving, pushing, hair pulling, throwing things, scaring or following a person, or even keeping you from freely coming and going. Abuse it not just physical, the abuse can also be verbal, emotional, or psychological. Unfortunately, abuse of this nature isn’t seen as domestic violence until it becomes physical. The underlying reason a person abuses another is to have control and power. They do this by using a combination of the different abuse tactics. An Orange County domestic violence attorney understands these definitions and can tell you if you’re a victim of domestic abuse and whether you have a case or not.
Who Might Be Involved in Domestic Violence?
Assault and battery is a serious offense in Orange County (and throughout California). But, it becomes domestic violence when the people involved are people who:
- Are or have been married
- Are or have been domestic partners
- Are or have been in a dating relationship
- Are or have lived together (cohabitants), or
- Are engaged
- Have a child together
- Are related by blood or marriage
If the person abuses a minor child, related or not, it would be considered child abuse. To learn more about getting your child away from an abusive parent, visit our child custody page. You should contact a domestic violence attorney as soon as possible.
Types of Criminal Charges in Domestic Violence Cases
When a person is charged with a domestic violence crime, there may be varying consequences based on the California Penal Code that applies. A prosecutor chooses which criminal charges he/she wants to pursue, usually based on the level of severity and harm done to the victim. A domestic violence attorney in family law does not choose any of this. Any criminal conduct is handled by the district attorney.
Depending on the severity and type of charge, a convicted domestic abuser may be fined or given jail time. A prosecutor can go after increased or additional penalties in California if the abuser has previously been convicted of the same crime.
Here is an overview of the different types of criminal charges:
- Infliction of Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant (PC 273.5) – When a person strikes his/her intimate partner in a way that causes visible injury.
- Domestic Battery – PC 243 (e)(1) – A misdemeanor crime in which a person inflicts violence on an intimate partner; not requiring a visible injury.
- Child Abuse – PC 273d – a crime that inflicts “corporal punishment” or injury on a child intentionally meant to be cruel or inhuman.
- Child Endangerment – PC 273 (a) – Knowingly and willfully allowing a child to suffer harm or have his/her safety or health endangered.
- Child Neglect/Failure to Provide Care – PC 270 – When a parent fails to provide necessities for his/her child or children or minor age.
- Elder Abuse – PC 368 – When an elderly, aged 65 or older, is physically or emotionally abused, neglected, endangered or used for financial fraud.
- Criminal Threats – PC 422 – When a personal threatens serious harm or death to another, intended to scare the person or actually acted on.
- Damaging a Phone Line – PC 591 – Not strictly a domestic violence crime, damaging a phone line or phone equipment is a crime. This crime is often charged in a domestic violence case because the abuser tries to prevent the victim from calling for help.
- Aggravated Trespass – PC 601 – When a threat is made against someone and the abuser enters the victims home or place of work to carry out the threat, within 30 days. It can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Revenge Porn – PC 647 (j)(4) – This is a form of cyber harassment in which a person causes harm to another by distributing sexual media of another person (of intimate relation).
- Posting Harmful Information on the Internet – PC 653.2 – This is a relatively new offense consisting of posting information on the internet about someone with the intention to harass or harm.
An Orange County domestic violence attorney in family law largely uses testimony and evidence to help the victim enforce restraining orders, obtain child custody, get a divorce, etc.
What Rights Do the Victims Have and What Can They Do to Protect Themselves?
A victim of domestic abuse doesn’t have to wait for a conviction in order to take action to protect themselves or loved ones. He/she can report the domestic violence or file a restraining order to help protect against the abuser. If your child is abused, you can file a restraining order on behalf of the child if he/she is a minor. The restraining order can order the restrained person to:
- Keep from contacting or going near you, your children, other relatives, or people you live with
- Not go near your home, work, or school
- Move out of your house
- Not have a gun
- Not go near your pets
- Pay spousal or child support
- Transfer right to a cell phone number to the protected person
- Pay certain bills
- Not make any insurance policy changes
- Follow child custody and visitation orders
- Release or return certain property belonging to a spouse or domestic partner
- Complete a year-long intervention program
The California court helps enforce this by making sure that all law enforcement officers have access to the restraining order issued. This order can be viewed anywhere in the United states, so it applies even if you move out of state. If you do move outside of Orange County or California, you should contact your new local police department so that they are aware of the restraining order.
Working with a California Domestic Violence Attorney
It’s a shame when someone close to you becomes someone who hurts you. Its also a shame if you’ve been wrongly accused of abuse. Carrying on a domestic violence case is not an easy task. You’ll need to make sure you have the best California domestic violence attorney to help you get through this and secure yours and your loved ones’ future.
Don’t wait another minute to get help if you’ve been abused or have been falsely accused of domestic violence. This serious offense can stay on your permanent record if convicted. Our experienced domestic violence attorney is here to advise you of your rights and help you to figure out the next steps to take.
If you’re a victim, it’s also important to have the right domestic violence lawyer to help ensure the safety of yours or your loved ones’ future. If you’re a victim or have been falsely accused, a California domestic violence attorney is who you need on your side. Unfortunately, innocent people get accused of domestic violence all the time in the midst of a nasty divorce or custody battle. If an accusation has been made against you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the charge will stick on your permanent record. But you need to hire the right domestic violence attorney to help you face this serious charge.