In California, Family Code § 6203 FC is the statute that defines abuse for purposes of domestic violence. This statute is contained in the code section entitled “Prevention of Domestic Violence.” Most states extensively define abuse within the context of domestic violence. Yet, it is not always clear when two people in an intimate relationship interact, and tensions flare.
In California, in the context of domestic violence, “abuse” means any of the following:
(1) To intentionally or recklessly cause or attempt to cause bodily injury.
(2) Sexual assault.
(3) To place a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
(4) To engage in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined pursuant to Section 6320.
(b) Abuse is not limited to the actual infliction of physical injury or assault.
It is important to note Section (b) of the statute states that no physical injury must be inflicted for conduct to be considered abuse under California law. Also, any conduct that could be enjoined under § 6320 may be considered abuse.
Section 6320 references conduct that includes molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, harassing, and telephoning another person, including, but not limited to, making annoying telephone calls to such person. It also may include destroying personal property, contacting, either directly or indirectly, by mail or otherwise, coming within a specified distance of, or disturbing the peace of the other party. Also, credibly impersonating or falsely impersonating an individual to accomplish any of the aforementioned actions may be considered abuse.
Domestic violence consists of abuse or threats of abuse when the parties involved are:
- closely related by blood or by marriage,
- domestic partners,
- presently dating or have formerly dated,
- living or have lived together, or
- parents of a child together.
Abuse is not limited to physical abuse that involves striking or hitting an intimate partner. Abuse may involve kicking, shoving, pushing, or scaring another person. It may include throwing things at or following another person, as well as preventing them from freely moving or coming and going. It may even include physical abuse of household pets.
As mentioned, abuse in domestic violence matters does not have to be physical but may be verbal, emotional, or psychological. A person may never be physically touched or struck but still may experience abuse under California law. Abuse may take many forms depending on what means and methods of control the abuser employs to try to gain an advantage or any power over the victim.
As a California Criminal Trial Lawyer with over 40 years of courtroom experience, John Patrick Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. Mr. Dolan is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of domestic violence defense cases. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.