Domestic violence and civil harassment are both types of harassment that include verbal or physical assault. The variations are seen in the two parties' relationships. Domestic abuse is defined as behavior between people who are in a qualifying relationship, while civil harassment is defined as behavior between nonfamily members.

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Are You A Victim Of Domestic Abuse In Los Angeles?

When the individual being abused and the abuser is or has been in an intimate relationship, domestic violence is described as abuse or threats of abuse (married or domestic partners, are dating or used to date, live or lived together, or have a child together). It may also happen when the abused person and the perpetrator are linked by blood or marriage.

Domestic violence laws define "violence" as:

  1. Intentionally or recklessly injuring or attempting to injure others physically.
  2. Attack on another person
  3. Instilling reasonable fear in someone that they or someone else is going to be seriously injured (like threats or promises to harm someone)
  4. Harassment, harassment, bullying, or hitting someone (disturbing someone's peace; or damaging someone's personal property) are all examples of inappropriate behavior.

It isn't just hitting that is being used as a form of physical violence. Kicking, shoving, pushing, pulling hair, throwing objects, scaring or following you, or preventing you from freely entering and exiting are all examples of violence. Physical abuse of family pets is also a possibility.

Bear in mind that domestic violence does not always have to be physical. Abuse may take the form of verbal, mental, or psychological abuse. It is not necessary to be physically abused in order to be abused. Abuse may take many forms, and perpetrators often use a variety of strategies to exert influence and power over the individual who is being abused.

Even if you do not want (or are unsure if you want) to seek legal protection, talking to a domestic violence counselor may help you if you are being abused in any of these ways or if you feel afraid or manipulated by your partner or anyone close to you. You can seek the help of a California family lawyer to file for divorce that might be able to clear things up for you.

In California, what is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is regulated differently in each state. Domestic violence is described as "assault" against an "intimate partner" in California's penal code. Abuse occurs when one person attempts or uses force against another deliberately or recklessly.

A current or former spouse, domestic partner, or fiancé may be that partner. A current or former cohabitant, dating partner, or the other parent of a child may all be suspects.

Domestic violence often includes children. As a result, abusing children or other relatives of the abuser is often considered a felony. Stepbrothers, grandparents, and nieces and nephews are also included.

Domestic abuse can take many different forms. Domestic abuse may be applied to all of these scenarios:

Child Abuse

You are guilty of child abuse if you use corporal punishment on a child. Spanking is not included, but any other harsh punishment that causes injury to a child is considered corporal punishment. This offense carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison or three years in prison.

Child Endangerment and Neglect

Child endangerment is a felony, much like child violence. This happens when a parent causes their child to be harmed. Child neglect is a different offense from child abuse. Neglect occurs when a parent fails to provide their child with the treatment they need.

Abuse of the elderly

Elder abuse is another form of domestic violence. Individuals 65 and older are not permitted to be abused physically or emotionally by a parent. Elder abuse may also include neglect and fraud involving an elderly victim.


Threatening an intimate partner is against the law. It may also be deemed a criminal offense. The seriousness of the threat determines whether or not it is a felony.


Domestic abuse may also include stalking. This normally occurs when a former sexual partner is harassed or threatened. The conduct may be considered a crime if the individual is concerned about their safety.


Battery is one of the most well-known forms of domestic abuse. Intimate partners are not permitted to use force or aggression against one another. A visible injury is not needed for the act to be deemed criminal. Other proof, on the other hand, may be used to establish a case against the defendant.

Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your Cal Bar Attorney Search.

Online Dissemination of Harmful Information

There is a new type of domestic abuse in today's internet-driven world. Some aggressors use the internet to spread derogatory information. When anyone shares or sends harmful information about an intimate partner, it's known as indirect electronic abuse. It should be done with the intention of harassing the victim.

While this may seem to be a small charge, it has significant consequences. You could be sentenced to up to a year in prison and fined.

Penal Code 601: Aggravated Trespass

A crime known as "aggravated trespass," as described in California Penal Code Section 601 PC, is another type of state domestic violence law in California. Trespassing is typically classified as a misdemeanor, although the California state penal code requires it to be treated as a felony if any aggravating factors are present.

In general, the state must establish the following three elements:

  • The defendant made a credible threat of serious bodily harm. Threats may be made verbally, in writing, or on film, or they can be inferred from a history of previous comments and actions.
  • The threat was made with the intent of instilling rational fear in that person's or her family's protection.
  • The defendant illegally invaded the threatened person's living space or office without a lawful intent within 30 days of making the threat, intending to carry out the threat.
  • There are two exceptions to this law: it does not apply to people who join their own job or home spaces, and it does not apply to people who participate in trade union activities.

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Penal Code 646.9: Stalking

Stalking is also described and prohibited in the California Penal Code. This is described as stalking in Penal Code Section 646.9, which states:

"Any person who follows or harasses another person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly, and who makes a credible threat with the intent to put that person in legitimate fear for his or her life, or the safety of his or her immediate family."

family law Attorney must prove three legal elements in order to obtain a stalking conviction. There are the following:

  • Another individual was followed or harassed on purpose, maliciously, and repeatedly. Harassment is described as intentional behavior that "alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes the individual for no valid reason."
  • A credible threat was made by the individual who was following or harassing you. These threats may be expressed verbally, in writing, or inferred.
  • The threat was made with the intention of making the victim fear for his or her life, as well as the safety of his or her relatives.
  • And if there is no restraining order, first-time stalkers can be arrested and sentenced to up to three years in jail. The sentence could be extended to a fourth year if a restraining order is in effect. If you've been convicted of stalking before, your sentence could be increased to five years.

Penal Code 368 governs elder abuse in California.

California Penal Code 368, which includes offenses involving elder abuse, is intended to protect Californians who are older and more vulnerable. The crime of elder abuse is described as follows in the code:

  • Any person who knows or should reasonably know that a person is an elder or dependent adult and who, under circumstances or conditions likely to cause great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits any elder or dependent adult to suffer or inflicts unjustifiable physical injury or mental abuse on an elder or dependent adult, or who has the care or custody of an elder or dependent adult, willfully causes or permits any elder or dependent adult to suffer, or who has the care or custody of an elder or dependent adult.
  • This term includes physical and emotional violence, neglect, financial exploitation, and endangerment for someone 65 or older. If the case is charged as a misdemeanor, those who violate this law will face up to a year in prison and a fine. If the case is charged as a crime, the defendants may face up to four years in state prison and a fine for each offense. Prosecutors will have the authority to decide whether or not to bring felony charges, and they will weigh a variety of factors (the gravity of the case, previous criminal history) in making this determination.
  • If you are wrongly convicted of breaking this code, you can challenge the allegations by claiming that your conduct did not cause the damage, that no harm happened, and that the code does not apply to your situation.

Infringing on a restraining or protective order is punishable under California Penal Code 273.6.

When people think they are in danger from another person, the state will intervene and issue a restraining order to protect them. However, restraining orders are occasionally broken, whether by mistake or on purpose. This can lead to criminal charges, which are codified in California Penal Code 273.6.

Any willful and knowing violation of a protective order, as specified in Section 6218 of the Family Code, is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year."

If you've broken the terms of a restraining order, you can defend yourself by claiming that the breach was not deliberate, that it didn't happen, or that the restraining order was not legally released.

Understanding Penal Code 422 in California

Making "criminal threats" is illegal in California, but most people have no idea what constitutes a legally actionable threat against another person. The type of criminal threats is described in California Penal Code 422, as follows:

  • Any person who intentionally threatens to commit a crime that will result in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, with the express intent that the statement, made orally, in writing, or by the use of an electronic communication device, will be interpreted as a threat."
  • Even if there is no real intent to carry out a threat, it can be charged as a crime. These communications must simply "convey to the person threatened, a seriousness of intent and an imminent prospect of execution of the threat, and thus causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for the safety of his or her immediate family," according to Penal Code 422.
  • In other words, even though you have no intention of carrying out the alleged threat, you can be arrested and charged under Penal Code 422 if you make a comment that another person perceives as an immediate, unequivocal, and realistic threat to commit serious injury or murder.
  • In addition, depending on the seriousness of the incident and how the prosecutor wishes to proceed, violations of Penal Code 422 can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony conviction can result in up to three years in prison and a fine, while a misdemeanor violation can result in a year in prison and a fine.
  • A conviction of Penal Code Section 422, if convicted as a crime, is called a strike and can be used to increase a potential sentence.

Understanding Penal Code 653m in California

The act of "annoying someone on the phone" is illegal in California and can lead to criminal charges. As you might have guessed, annoyance is a general word. Thankfully, California Penal Code 653m spells out just what constitutes criminal irritation. Criminal annoyance is described as follows in Penal Code 653m:

"Any person who, with the intent to harass, calls or contacts another by means of an electronic communication device and uses obscene language to or about the other person, or threatens to inflict harm on the person or property of the person addressed or any member of his or her family, is guilty of a misdemeanor."

Penal Code 653m, on the other hand, exempts phone calls made in "good conscience." It's also worth noting that, while being recognized as the "annoying phone calls" code, it also covers more modern modes of communication. Even if you annoy, taunt, or threaten anyone through text, email, video chat, or any form of communication, you may be charged with a misdemeanor.

The law is not to be confused with California Penal Code 653, which makes it illegal to tattoo a minor without their consent.

Ask your Criminal Law Attorney if anything is still unclear to you.

Is the Offense a Felony or a Misdemeanor?

It's possible that the criminal charges are a misdemeanor or a felony. If it's a misdemeanor, the penalties would be milder. They will, however, make a difference in your life.

Wobbler offenses are the most common form of domestic abuse. This means they can be graded as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. The seriousness of the injury, the defendant's criminal background, and the circumstances of the incident all play a role.

The majority of domestic abuse cases are decided by a judge and jury. As a result, your Criminal Law Attorney is extremely important in your case. They may be able to persuade the court that you merit reduced charges if they can mount a good defense.

What Is the Difference Between Domestic Violence Misdemeanor and Felony?

Many crimes in California can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies. As a result, the penalties for prosecution are more severe. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in prison. Felonies, on the other hand, will result in years, decades, or even life in jail. Furthermore, the fines for felonies are higher than for misdemeanors.

Domestic abuse offenses can be classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. Some, though, are "wobblers," or offenses that may be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies. The prosecutor can determine which degree to levy when a domestic violence crime is a wobbler. When deciding whether to prosecute it as a misdemeanor or felony, they will weigh a number of factors, including the seriousness of the offense and the defendant's criminal background.

The following are some examples of domestic violence crimes and the charges that can be brought against them:

  • Physical injury to a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant, fiancé or fiancée, a person with whom the defendant had a dating relationship, or the defendant's child's other parent: This crime occurs when a person inflicts physical injury on a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant, fiancé or fiancée, a person with whom the defendant had a dating relationship, or a person with whom the defendant had A traumatic disability, such as a fractured bone, sprain, or concussion, may have resulted from the injury. Corporal damage to a partner is a crime or a misdemeanor.
  • Willfully using abuse or coercion against a family or household member is a misdemeanor under California Penal Code 243(e)(1).
  • A felony or misdemeanor charge could be filed if a person inflicts corporal injury or punishment on a child.

Restraining Orders for Domestic Violence

A domestic violence restraining order is a judicial order that protects people from being abused or threatened by someone with whom they have a close relationship.

A domestic violence restraining order can be requested if:

  1. You've been abused (or threatened with abuse) by another.
  2. That person is someone with whom you have a close relationship. You are the following:
    • Domestic partners who are married or registered
    • Separated or divorced
    • If you're dating or have been dating,
    • Currently living together or formerly living together (more than roommates)
    • Parents of a kid together
    • Inextricably linked (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).

If you are a parent and your child is being harassed, you can file a restraining order on their behalf to protect them (and you and other family members). Your child will file the restraining order on his or her own if he or she is 12 or older.

If you do not qualify for a domestic violence restraining order, you may seek the following types of orders:

  • the restraining order against civil harassment (can be used for neighbors, roommates, coworkers, or more distant family members like cousins, uncle or aunt, etc.).
  • Assault restraining order for an elderly or dependent adult (if the person being abused is 65 or older; or between 18 and 64 and a dependent adult).
  • Restraining order against workplace abuse (filed by an employer to protect an employee from violence, stalking, or harassment by another person).
  • Consult a family Law Attorney if you're unsure about the type of restraining order you need for assistance in locating a family Law Attorney. In addition, the family law facilitator or self-help center at your court might be able to assist you.

A restraining order has the power to order the individual who is being restrained to:

  • You, your children, other friends, or those who live with you are not to be contacted or approached.
  • Keep your distance from your house, workplace, and children's schools.
  • Get out of your home (even if you live together)
  • Not possessing a firearm.
  • Obey all custody and visitation orders for your children.
  • Make child support payments.
  • Help your spouse or girlfriend by paying spousal or partner support (if you are married or domestic partners)
  • Keep all of your pets away from you.
  • Transfer ownership of a cell phone number and account to the individual who is being covered.
  • Certain bills must be paid.
  • No changes to insurance plans are to be made.
  • If you're married or living together, don't spend a lot of money or do something that would negatively impact your or the other person's house.
  • Certain items are released or returned.
  • Completing a 52-week batterer intervention program is needed.

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The order is entered into a statewide database system (called CLETS) that all law enforcement officers have access to until the court issues (makes) a restraining order. Your restraining order is valid in the United States. If you move outside of California, notify your new local police department, so they are aware of your orders.

If you travel to California with a restraining order from another state or restraining order granted by a tribal court (in California or elsewhere throughout the United States), the restraining order will be effective throughout the state and will be enforced by the police. You should file (with the help of your family Law Attorney) your restraining order with the court if you want it to be entered into California's statewide domestic abuse database system.

A restraining order would not be able to:

  • Your domestic relationship or marriage could come to an end. It isn't a legal separation.
  • Unless you and the restrained person agree to the parentage of your child or children and agree to the court entering a judgment about parentage, establish parentage (paternity) of your children with the restrained person (if you are not married to or in a domestic relationship with him or her).
  • The impact of a restraining order on the individual who is being restrained
  • The repercussions of getting a court order against a person who is being restrained may be very severe.
  • He or she may be unable to visit certain locations or participate in certain activities.
  • He or she will have to leave their current residence.
  • His or her ability to see his or her children will be harmed.
  • He or she would almost certainly be unable to obtain a firearm. (Any guns he or she owns must be turned in, sold, or stored, and he or she will not be allowed to buy a gun while the restraining order is in effect.)
  • His or her immigration status could be affected by the restraining order. If you're concerned, speak with a family Law Attorney and see if you'll be affected.
  • If the person who is to be restrained violates the restraining order, he or she may face prison time, a fine, or both.

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders: What They Are and How They Work

An emergency protective order (EPO)

An EPO is a form of restraining order that can only be obtained by contacting a judge. Judges are available 24 hours a day to issue EPOs. So, at any time of day or night, a police officer responding to a domestic violence call will ask a judge for an emergency protective order.

The emergency protection order goes into effect immediately and will last for up to seven days. For up to a week, the judge will order the violent individual to leave the house and stay away from the victim and any children. This gives the assault survivor ample time to go to court and request a temporary restraining order.

You must petition the court for a temporary restraining order (also known as a "TRO") if you want an order that lasts longer than an EPO.

Restraining Order (Temporary) (TRO)

When you go to court to request a domestic violence restraining order, you fill out paperwork informing the judge of all that has happened and why you need one. A temporary restraining order can be issued by the judge if he or she feels you need protection.

Temporary restraining orders usually last 20 to 25 days or until the court date.

Restraining Order that is "permanent."

The judge may issue a "permanent" restraining order when you appear in court for the hearing on your TRO. Since they normally last up to 5 years, they aren't truly "permanent."

You should apply for new restraining order at the end of those five years (or once the current one expires) to ensure that you are still safe.

Order of Protection

The district attorney can file criminal charges against the abuser in the event of a domestic violence incident (or series of incidents). This is the start of a criminal court case. A criminal protection order against the defendant (the person who is committing the violence and abuse) is often issued by the criminal court when the case is pending and for three years after the case is completed if the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty.

The Procedure for Getting a Restraining Order

When anyone files a legal petition for a domestic violence restraining order, they must fill out court paperwork explaining what orders they seek and why. What occurs next varies somewhat from court to court, but the following are the general steps in a court case:

  • The individual seeking defense requests a domestic violence restraining order on court forms. There is no charge for filing.
  • By the next business day, the judge will determine whether or not to issue the warrant. The judge can make a decision sooner than anticipated.
  • If the judge agrees to the requested orders, he or she will first issue "temporary" orders that will only apply until the next court date. On the paperwork, you'll find the court date. These temporary orders will cover a variety of topics, including:
  • directing the restrained person to stay away from the safe person and have no interaction with them (and other protected people and family pets)
  • Custody of the child
  • Who is allowed to use the family home?
  • Who is allowed to use other property, such as a car?
  • Before the court date, the person seeking defense must "serve" the other person with a copy of all the restraining order documents. This ensures that a person aged 18 or over who is not involved in the case must hand-deliver a copy of all the papers to the person who is being held.
  • The person who has been restraining has the right to respond to the restraining order request and justify his or her side of the story.
  • The court hearing is attended by both parties.
  • If the covered party fails to appear at the hearing, the temporary restraining order will normally expire that day, and no restraining order will be issued.
  • If the person who is being held does not attend the hearing, he or she will have no say in the case, and his or her side of the story will be ignored.
  • The judge will determine whether to keep or revoke the temporary restraining order at the hearing. The "permanent" order, if the judge wishes to prolong the temporary order, could last up to 5 years.

If the judge also issues other orders in the restraining order, such as child custody or child support, these orders will have separate expiration dates and will normally last until the child reaches the age of 18 or until the judge changes them. This will depend on how your Criminal Law Attorney will handle your case.

Possible Defense Arguments Against Domestic Violence

  1. False Accusations – This is all too normal, unfortunately. False charges and wrongful convictions are commonplace. During an argument, an enraged spouse or girlfriend can make a split-second decision to call 911 or send a message in order to exact revenge. Law enforcement arrives shortly after, and someone is eventually arrested. It is much more difficult to turn back the clock once things have progressed to this stage, and you will need to hire legal counsel. In order to avoid the filing of criminal charges, a competent Criminal Law Attorney will hire an investigator to obtain witness statements and forward any potentially exculpatory information to law enforcement and/or the appropriate prosecutorial agency. We agree that taking positive steps will always save our clients from the devastating consequences of a criminal conviction. The most valuable work is always completed in the days after an arrest, so it is crucial to maintain legal counsel during this period.
  2. Another common event in domestic abuse cases is an accident. It is not unusual to hit or knock someone down by mistake during a heated argument or struggle. It wasn't your intention for it to happen, but it did. This occurs on a regular basis. For e.g., both parties lose their cool, and there is some mutual pushing and grabbing in the midst of the chaos and confusion. The spouse may strike the other, but not with the intent of hitting them or injuring them.
  3. Self-Defense – Verifying claims of spousal violence may be challenging for the district attorney. Domestic abuse charges emerged in many cases as a result of a joint struggle in which the defendant behaved in legal self-defense. An example may be when an enraged spouse starts hitting their partner, and the partner is forced to push them away to avoid being hit in the face.

Find A Domestic Abuse Lawyer in California is a California Bar Association Certified Free Attorney Referral Service that can refer you to an experienced Criminal Law Attorney that's best fit to handle their unique case. If you are a victim of domestic violence, we can match you with a pre-screened family Law Attorney. You can benefit from an initial case consultation by either contacting us through our 24/7 live chat or completing our case details submission form.