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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Domestic Violence Laws in California

Domestic violence is violence committed against one’s intimate partner. Most people think that domestic violence means physical abuse committed against an intimate partner in a domestic setting. But in reality, domestic violence can take many forms such as verbal abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, sexual abuse, etc.

The following are some of the frequently asked questions relating to domestic violence laws in the State of California.

What is Domestic Violence?

Under California Penal Code section 13700, domestic violence is abuse committed by a person against the following people:-

  1. Spouse, or
  2. Former spouse, or
  3. Cohabitant, or
  4. Former cohabitant, or
  5. Person with whom the suspect has had a child or
  6. Person with whom the suspect is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship.

Domestic violence can be committed against both adults and minors.

Who is a Cohabitant?

For the purpose of this section, cohabitants are two unrelated adults who are living together for a substantial period of time. It is important that there must be some kind of permanency of relationship between them.

The following are some indicators that show that two people are cohabiting –

  1. Both of them have a sexual relationship while they live in the same living quarters.
  2. They share incomes or expenses.
  3. They jointly use the property or they co-own the property.
  4. They represent themselves as spouses.
  5. They have a long and continuous relationship.
What Does the Law Mean by Abuse?

Abuse means a wilful or reckless act by which a person causes or attempts to cause a bodily injury. Also, it includes such scenarios where one person by their actions causes another person to be reasonable scared about their safety.

What is the Scope of Domestic Violence Laws in California?

Domestic violence is an umbrella term which covers a bunch of offenses. Under the California Penal Code, several sections cover different aspects and different types of domestic violence. Most of these offenses are wobbler offenses i.e. most of them can be prosecuted both as a misdemeanour and a felony depending upon many factors such as gravity of the offense, past criminal history, etc.

The following sections of the California Penal Code deals with different aspects of domestic violence –

  1. Corporal Injury To A Spouse Or Inhabitant (PC 273.5)
  2. Domestic Battery (PC 243(e)(1))
  3. Child Abuse (PC 273d)
  4. Child Endangerment (PC 273a)
  5. Child Neglect (PC 270)
  6. Elder Abuse (PC 368)
  7. Criminal Threats (PC 422)
  8. Stalking (PC 646.9)
  9. Revenge Porn (PC 647(j)(4))
What are the Consequences of Domestic Violence?

As discussed earlier, domestic violence is not one offense. There are different sections under the penal code that deas with different aspects of domestic violence. Different types of crimes are punished differently.

In most cases a person convicted under these sections can get jailed, fined, or both. In addition to this, the abusive parents can end up losing the custody of their children.

In addition to these, the person convicted under some of these sections can lead to permanent loss of right to keep guns.

Further, most of these offenses can be classified as aggressive felonies that can lead to deportation and other actions under the U.S. Immigrations laws.

Many domestic violence cases cross over with CPS cases. In our office, we represent parents in both types of cases and can successfully use the existence of both cases to your favor. We can also help you navigate potential CPS cases and deal with social services.

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