A sad reality is that anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. To protect these victims, domestic violence laws have been established. While such laws, as any law proscribing conduct which society has deemed to be detrimental, have gone a long way in punishing aggressors, in some cases, the laws, as written, cast such a wide net that unintended persons are caught.
An experienced domestic violence attorney can help these individuals. California’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act is one of these such laws, written in such vague terms that unwarranted restraining orders have been levied against persons who are not the intended targets – that is, persons whose actions do not rise to the level of aggression intended by the California Legislature when drafting the statute.
A discussion of the vagueness of the California Domestic Violence Prevention Act, and the consequences of being accused of its violation, will follow below.
What Is California’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act?
In 1993, the California Legislature enacted the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, which is intended to prevent the abuse of a person by an aggressor with whom the person has a special (sometimes called intimate) relationship. Specifically, the law prohibits the following actions:
- Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury;
- Sexual assault;
- Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another;
- Engaging in the following types of behavior: molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, harassing, telephoning, destroying the personal property of, contacting either directly or indirectly by mail or otherwise, and/or disturbing the peace of another party.
As mentioned above, there must be a special relationship between the aggressor and the victim. Specifically, the victim must be any of the following:
- A current or former spouse;
- A current or former cohabitant;
- A person in or formerly in a dating or engagement relationship;
- A co-parent (i.e., the two persons are parents of a child together);
- A child of a party; or
- Any other person related by blood, marriage, or adoption within two degrees.
What are the Consequences of Domestic Violence?
As written, the statute is very vague as to what specifically constitutes domestic violence. However, as noted by a Professor of Law in the story linked above, the statute should be vague so that a wide range of detrimental behavior can, in fact, qualify as domestic violence, but it is then up to a judge to make sure the language is being applied in a fair way to every particular situation.
However, this is not necessarily what occurs, and consequences of being found in violation of the statute – the imposition of a restraining order against the violator – can have a wide-ranging effect. In fact, the article notes that a phone call or calling someone a name can be considered domestic violence, assuming they qualify as an intimate partner or household member.
Restraining orders are public records, and any individual can conduct a search to find out who has a restraining order imposed against them, including potential employers. To this end, many employers will not hire such a person. Further, some professions require termination when such an order has been imposed. Additionally, security clearances can be revoked for these people. Such restraining orders also appear in law enforcement databases.
Another issue is that one may not own a firearm during the enforcement period of the restraining order, which typically would mean the loss of a job for someone who uses a weapon in their employment, not to mention a loss of rights for anyone who owns a weapon for self-defense or for hunting. Finally, a restraining order can have a material effect on custody and visitation, potentially preventing a parent from interacting with his/her child.
Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with violating California’s Domestic Violence Law, and do not believe your actions are consistent with the intent of the statute, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at the Los Angeles law firm Manshoory Law Group, APC will use their skills to build a defense on your behalf to obtain the best possible results.
Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact us today for an initial consultation.