Many people may think that there must be hard physical evidence of abuse in order for someone to be convicted of a domestic violence offense. If this were the case, many people would get away with abusive behavior with no ramifications. Under California law, however, domestic violence goes far beyond inflicting physical harm. Though physical abuse is still one of the most common forms of domestic violence, there are many other actions that can be considered domestic violence for legal purposes. Some people may think that if they didn't actually touch the alleged victim, there isn't enough evidence for them to be convicted. In reality, even if you didn't touch the victim or leave any marks, there are still several actions that could result in a domestic violence charge.
California law view several acts as domestic violence when directed at someone you are in a close or intimate relationship with such as a past or present spouse, domestic partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancé, or cohabitant, the mother or father of your child, or someone else you are closely related to through blood or marriage. These actions include:
- Inflicting, or attempting to, physical harm either through reckless or intentional behavior
- Sexual assault or molestation
- Threats to harm either the victim or his or her family members, if the threats are credible and place or attempt to place the victim in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of their immediately family or pets
- Destruction of property
- Disturbing of peace
As you can see, several of these do not involve physical touching at all. Abuse is not limited to physical touching or injury for legal purposes. Domestic violence is broadly construed under California law to include violent or forceful acts that harm or attempt to harm individuals. A threatening phone call, menacing texts or emails, or a violent public interaction can all cause or attempt to cause harm to an individual. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological in nature and be carried out through physical interaction or face-to-face or electronic communication. Any one of these acts can lead to a domestic violence conviction if serious enough. These acts can all result in a domestic violence restraining order, or DVRO, as well. The key component that needs to be present in order for someone to be convicted of a domestic violence offense is that whatever they did was directed at someone they are in or have been in a close relationship with and that their actions caused or attempted to cause some form of harm. Seen in this light, it is easy to understand why people are wrongfully accused of domestic violence as there no longer needs to be physical proof such as broken bones or bruises for domestic abuse to be proven.
It is important to keep in mind that the police are under certain obligations when responding to domestic violence calls. In many cases, an arrest will be made even without proof of physical injury. This is simply to prevent further harm from happening and to ensure law enforcement is not liable for failure to protect. Being arrested doesn't necessarily mean you will be charged and convicted. Police may be quick to make an arrest to make sure they are taking all necessary precautions to protect those who could be harmed, but there may not be enough evidence collected to convict you. The call or accusations may even be false. If there isn't enough evidence, an attorney may be able to intervene before charges are ever filed and you may be released. If a charge is filed, you may still be able to fight a conviction if there isn't enough evidence. This is why it is so important to speak with an experienced California domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible if you've been arrested for a domestic violence offense. The sooner you get an attorney involved in a domestic violence case where you did not actually touch the victim, the better chance you have at avoiding a conviction and possibly even a charge.
Are you or a loved one facing domestic violence charges and have questions about the consequences? California attorney Christopher Martens knows domestic violence defense and will fight for your rights and your dignity in court. With over ten years of dedicated criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has taken over 50 to trial. Attorney Christopher Martens will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert DUI defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.