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Domestic Violence Isn’t Limited to Physical Abuse


Domestic Violence Isn’t Limited to Physical Abuse

Domestic violence involves harm against someone the alleged actor was in an intimate relationship with. The term “harm” here refers not only to physical abuse resulting in bodily injury, but also to conduct that causes fear or distress in the other person, such as threatening, stalking, harassing, or disturbing the peace.

Regardless of the alleged acts, domestic violence is a serious offense in California. An arrest alone can lead to severe consequences restricting the alleged actor. And the court can impose harsh penalties upon anyone convicted.

If you were accused of domestic violence, schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. by contacting us at (707) 418-5352. We provide legal representation to the people of Santa Rosa.

What Is Domestic Violence?

In California, a person can be accused of domestic violence if they hurt or try to hurt a household or family member.

Individuals falling into these categories include:

  • Spouses or former spouses,
  • Domestic partners,
  • Current or former dating partners,
  • Individuals who are living together or have lived together,
  • People who have a child together, and
  • Relatives by blood or marriage.

What Forms Can Domestic Violence Take?

Domestic violence is often associated with physical acts of abuse.

Physical abuse can include, but is not limited to:

  • Hitting,
  • Biting,
  • Scratching,
  • Shoving,
  • Restraining without consent, or
  • Attempting to cause bodily injury.

However, domestic violence is not limited to actual contact with the alleged victim. Any conduct engaged in to coerce, control, or maintain power or dominance over the other person can be considered a form of abuse.

Under California Family Code §§ 6203 and 6320, abuse can also consist of:

  • Threats: This involves making a statement to another person causing them to reasonably fear that they or someone close to them is in danger of being hurt or killed.
  • Harassment: This includes engaging in repeated actions over a period of time that have no legitimate purpose and cause the alleged victim to feel fear or suffer emotional distress.
  • Stalking: This is when someone maliciously and repeatedly follows another person and makes a threat to cause the other individual to reasonably fear for their safety.
  • Destruction of property: This involves damaging or defacing someone else’s belongings without consent.
  • Disturbance of peace: This includes causing harm to someone’s mental or emotional well-being. It can be accomplished by isolating the alleged victim from people they’re close to; controlling the individual’s movement, communication, and/or finances; and depriving them of necessities.

Another major and common form of domestic abuse is sexual assault. Although this act is physical, it does not always lead to bodily injury (in some cases, it can).

Sexual assault involves:

  • Using force or coercion to make someone have sex either with the actor or another individual,
  • Engaging in sexual conduct with a person incapable of resisting, and/or
  • Making nonconsensual sexual contact with another person.

The Consequences of Domestic Violence

Whether the alleged domestic violence offense was physical, nonphysical, or sexual, the consequences the alleged actor faces can be detrimental. Soon after the arrest, without being charged or convicted, the alleged actor can be subject to a restraining order placing various restrictions on them.

For instance, they may be prohibited from:

  • Contacting the alleged victim,
  • Going anywhere the alleged victim frequents (e.g., home or work),
  • Remaining in a residence shared with the alleged victim, or
  • Possessing or purchasing a firearm.

Violating any of the terms of a domestic violence restraining order can result in an arrest and additional criminal charges and potential penalties. The alleged victim may also file a contempt of court action, which can lead to separate punishments that include jail time and/or fines.

Upon a conviction for the alleged domestic violence offense, the alleged actor can face a bevy of punishments.

Potential penalties can include:

  • Jail time
  • Fines
  • Victim restitution
  • Participation in a batterers’ intervention program
  • Loss of gun rights

The punishments can be imposed whether or not the alleged offense involved physical abuse.

Contact Our Firm Today

Domestic violence can take various forms, including physical contact and nonphysical actions. In either case, the consequences of an accusation are severe. A charge should not be taken lightly. If you were alleged to have harmed someone with whom you are in an intimate relationship, reach out to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can build a defense to fight your charges, but they need time to investigate, analyze evidence, and identify weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.

To speak with our Santa Rosa attorney about your situation, please call the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. at (707) 418-5352 or submit an online contact form today.