When Have You Crossed the Line?
Arguments are common in relationships. Unfortunately, sometimes arguments can escalate to the point of domestic violence if someone is harmed. Even when no one is harmed, a neighbor or concerned third-party may call the police if it sounds as if the nature of argument is violent. Since California law enforcement officers are under a strict duty to ensure domestic violence incidences are stopped when they arrive, often one party to the argument will be arrested, even if only words were exchanged.
So, where is the line drawn? At what point is someone arrested and charged with domestic violence for an argument? This is a good question because many innocent people are arrested for domestic violence after nothing more than a heated argument. They may escape charges and be quickly released, but the arrest still stands on their record. In other cases, they face domestic violence charges for something many couples do in the privacy of their own home. Defining domestic violence is a good place to start.
California has a very specific legal definition of domestic violence. Domestic violence is:
- Abuse, harm, or threats of abuse or harm, where
- The abuser and the victim have been in or are in an intimate relationship. This includes a former or present spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancé, domestic partner, or cohabitant, the parent of your child, or someone to whom you are closely related to through blood or marriage.
Let’s break this down further. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, or psychological. Domestic violence involves more than one of these types of abuse. Someone can be abused in any of these ways during an argument, but an argument can also just be a heated disagreement. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know just what is going on during an argument to a concerned third-party. Screaming, throwing things, and hurling insults can seem like abuse to someone who is not involved, but this does not necessarily mean someone was abused or harmed. In reality, the line is drawn based on what evidence is available. If neither party claims they were abused and there are no witness accounts stating clear evidence of harm, there may not be an arrest made or charges filed. If an arrest is made but charges are never filed, the person arrested may be able to have the arrest record sealed.
The California criminal justice system takes reports of domestic violence very seriously. Because so many people are harmed from domestic violence each year, every instance of domestic violence is investigated. Just a few decades ago domestic arguments were seen as outside the purview of the justice system. Today, the criminal justice system takes it upon itself to aggressively protect those harmed and at risk of harm from domestic violence. Arguments between partners, while arguably a personal matter, can lead to criminal charges, but they don’t have to.
Speak with an experienced California domestic violence defense attorney if you are facing domestic violence charges. Domestic violence offenses are very serious and could have a lasting impact on your life. A domestic violence conviction for any offense can lead to you losing some of your rights and privileges as a resident of California. You can also face jail time, heavy fines, and a lifetime of discrimination when it comes to jobs, housing, and public assistance. It is well worth it to at least consult with an experience domestic violence defense attorney if you are facing charges. An attorney can advise you of your rights, the rights you stand to lose if convicted, and what you can do to avoid being convicted.
Do you have questions about domestic violence charges? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in domestic violence defense, our Visalia area legal team can help you face your charges and fight for your rights. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and has the experienced needed to skillfully handle your case. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com for a free consultation.