Whether you have been accused of domestic violence, or whether you are the abused spouse, it’s important to understand that there are definite legal standards as to what constitutes domestic violence in California. There are also legitimate defenses. The attorneys at Jorgensen & Salberg have experience in domestic violence matters and can explain the law to you to help you understand your rights and options in your situation.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is abuse or threats of abuse when the person being abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship (married or domestic partners, are dating or used to date, live or lived together, or have a child together). It is also when the abused person and the abusive person are closely related by blood or by marriage.
California Family Code § 6203 defines “abuse” as:
- Physically hurting or trying to hurt someone, intentionally or recklessly
- Sexual assault;
- Making someone reasonably afraid that they or someone else are about to be seriously hurt (like threats or promises to harm someone);
- Behavior like harassing, stalking, threatening, or hitting someone; disturbing someone’s peace; or destroying someone’s personal property.
Physical abuse is not just limited to hitting. Abuse can be kicking, shoving, pushing, pulling hair, throwing things, scaring or following you, or keeping you from freely coming and going. It can even include physical abuse of the family pets.
Keep in mind that the abuse in domestic violence does not have to be physical. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, or psychological. You do not have to be physically hit to be abused. Often, abuse takes many forms, and abusers use a combination of tactics to control and have power over the person being abused. If you are being abused in any of these ways or you feel afraid or controlled by your partner or someone you are close with, it may help you to talk to a domestic violence counselor, even if you do not want (or are not sure if you want) to ask for legal protection.
You Can Ask for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order If:
1. A person has abused (or threatened to abuse) you; AND
2. You have a close relationship with that person. You are:
- Married or registered domestic partners,
- Divorced or separated,
- Dating or used to date,
- Living together or used to live together(more than roommates),
- Parents together of a child, or
- Closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).
If you are a parent and your child is being abused, you can also file a restraining order on behalf of your child to protect your child (and you and other family members). If your child is 12 or older, he or she can file the restraining order on his or her own.
Types of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
1. Emergency Protective Order (EPO): An EPO is a type of restraining order that only law enforcement can ask for by calling a judge. Judges are available to issue EPOs 24 hours a day. So, a police officer that answers a domestic violence call can ask a judge for an emergency protective order at any time of the day or night.
The emergency protective order starts right away and can last up to 7 days. The judge can order the abusive person to leave the home and stay away from the victim and any children for up to a week. That gives the victim of the abuse enough time to go to court to file for a temporary restraining order.To get an order that lasts longer than an EPO, you must ask the court for a temporary restraining order (also called a “TRO”).
2. Temporary Restraining Order (TRO): When you go to court to ask for a domestic violence restraining order, you fill out paperwork where you tell the judge everything that has happened and why you need a restraining order. If the judge believes you need protection, he or she will give you a temporary restraining order. Temporary restraining orders usually last between 20 and 25 days, until the court hearing date.
3. “Permanent” Restraining Order : When you go to court for the hearing that was scheduled for your TRO, the judge may issue a “permanent” restraining order. They are not really “permanent” because they usually last up to 3 years. At the end of those 3 years (or whenever your order runs out), you can ask for a new restraining order so you remain protected.)
Warning- Be Aware!
Please note that websites you visit may be viewed by someone else later.
Always clear your browsing history after searching the web. Consider using
a public or friend’s computer if you are concerned about someone viewing
your browsing history.
Are You in Danger Now? If you need help right now, call “911.”
You can also call:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: