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Domestic violence charges covered under a big umbrella

When people think about crimes, they often think about specific behaviors or actions that lead to specific charges. Indeed, specificity is a crucial element in many criminal offenses. However, some criminal charges have much broader definitions and applications.

One example of this is domestic violence. In California, the domestic violence laws cover a wide range of actions, and definitions for misconduct are relatively broad. Because of this, a person could wind up accused of domestic violence for any number of reasons.

Backing up a bit, domestic violence laws refer to any abusive behavior involving spouses, exes, partners, significant others, roommates, siblings, parents, children or anyone else to whom you are related. According to state laws, you could be arrested and charged with domestic violence if you:

  • Accidentally hurt one of these parties
  • Intentionally hurt one of these parties
  • Attempt to hurt one of these parties
  • Threaten to hurt one of these parties
  • Engage in behavior like harassment or stalking
  • Prevent one of these parties from coming or going
  • Yell at, threaten or otherwise verbally abuse someone
  • Make a person feel intimidated, scared or otherwise emotionally abused
  • Sexually assault someone
  • Destroy personal property

As you can see, there are a wide range of behaviors that can be considered domestic abuse, and the definitions of some of these actions are somewhat subjective and vague. 

With all this in mind, we want to remind readers that domestic violence accusations can be arise out of many situations, and defending yourself against them can be critical. This might involve providing context to a situation, poking holes in the alleged victim's account or proving that you were not the violent party. Your defense will depend on the details of your specific situation.

Considering everything that is at stake and the various emotional and legal complexities of a domestic violence claim, it can be crucial that you consult an attorney if you are accused of violent or abusive behavior. With legal guidance, you can defend yourself and minimize your exposure to overly harsh penalties.

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9.3Lisa Victoria Houle
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