At What Point Does an Argument Become Domestic Violence in California?

Arguments are common in all kinds of relationships. In fact, some degree of conflict is often healthy as it means both parties are expressing themselves rather than keeping everything buried inside and letting emotions fester. However, it’s not uncommon for arguments to escalate to the point of domestic violence. The question is, where is the line drawn?

In simple terms, California law deems domestic violence as abuse, harm, or threats of abuse or harm between two parties who have been or are in an intimate relationship. This includes a former or present spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancé, domestic partner, cohabitant, the parent of your child, or someone to whom you’re closely related through blood or marriage. Here’s a breakdown regarding when an argument crosses the line into domestic violence.

Can a Heated Argument Be Classified as Domestic Violence in California?

The scenario isn’t far-fetched: you get into a frenzied shouting match with your partner, which garners the attention of the neighbors, who subsequently call the police. Next thing you know, you’re sitting in the back of a cop car arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. You know you didn’t physically harm your partner, but you begin to wonder whether you’ve unknowingly broken any laws. 

While this scenario can leave you confused and frightened, it’s important to remain calm and contact an attorney as soon as possible. With the help of an experienced lawyer, you may be able to avoid a conviction.

In California, domestic violence is defined as any act of harm, abuse, or threatened abuse committed against someone with whom you’re in an intimate relationship. “Abuse” is further defined by the following terms: 

  • Physically hurting or trying to hurt someone
  • Sexual abuse
  • Harassment/stalking
  • Making the other person “reasonably apprehensive” that they’re in imminent danger

In other words, one of the main takeaways in this context is that domestic violence doesn’t have to involve physical touching. Verbal abuse, psychological and emotional abuse, stalking, destroying personal property, and threatening harm can also be classified as domestic violence. More specifically, emotional or verbal abuse can include repeated threats, attempts to embarrass, belittlement, coercion, and attempts to restrict action.

What Differentiates Abuse from an Argument?

In general, arguments differ from domestic violence when one person engages in actions that seek to establish control over the other. The most apparent form of domestic violence occurs when one party physically strikes the other. On the other hand, emotional abuse can occur when a person tries to block their partner from participating in a decision by belittling or insulting their intelligence. Because this line can be very tricky to maneuver, it’s crucial to discuss the specifics of your case with the Aron Law Firm.

Contact a Top Criminal Defense Lawyer at The Aron Law Firm

If you have additional questions about domestic violence or wish to learn more about how you can protect yourself from the ramifications of a conviction, contact the Aron Law Firm as soon as possible. Our top-of-the-line team of attorneys is committed to safeguarding your rights by scrutinizing the details of your case and putting together a stout defense. We’re well versed in California’s domestic violence laws and are dedicated to helping you sidestep the penalties associated with this offense.

At the Aron Law Firm, our experienced attorney will do everything in his power to protect you from a wide variety of criminal charges, including domestic violence, and we seek to make the legal process as painless as possible. Schedule a consultation today by calling (805) 500-7745 or completing our online contact form to further discuss your options with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.