At some point in every relationship or marriage, couples will have arguments about a wide range of issues from financial matters to parenting decisions. While no relationship is absent from heated debates, couples may wonder what separates a fight from domestic abuse. In some cases, there are clear indications, such as when one partner resorts to violence.
However, this distinction can often be unclear and the accused may not have a firm understanding of whether or not abuse has legally occurred. California takes accusations of domestic violence seriously and the first step in determining whether a fight or argument has crossed the legal line is to understand what constitutes domestic abuse.
What Is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse can take on many forms including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and can occur when a person intentionally causes physical or emotional harm to a family member or cohabitant. While acts or threats of violence can constitute abuse, a person can also be charged when no or minimal physical contact occurs.
Emotional, or verbal abuse, can include:
- Repeated threats
- Attempts to embarrass
- Attempts to restrict action
What Differentiates Abuse From an Argument?
There are numerous factors which can separate an argument or disagreement from abuse. While couples may disagree over the best way to solve a problem, in cases of abuse, one partner will engage in actions that seek to establish control over their partner.
For example, if a couple is engaged in an argument, physical abuse can occur when one person strikes or hits their partner to ensure that they get their way. An example of emotional abuse is when a person attempts to block their partner from participating in a decision through belittlement or by insulting their intelligence.
Another indication of abuse is the existence of a pattern of behavior. As emotional abuse is psychological in nature, patterns of conduct play a large role in determining abuse. Arguments can often bring feelings of anger and frustration to the surface and couples may resort to insults or may act uncharacteristically.
This type of behavior may become abuse when it is a constant factor in disputes. For example, if one spouse repeatedly tells their partner that their opinions are dumb or invalid, these actions may constitute verbal abuse.
It is important to understand the actions and behavior that constitute domestic violence as once an accusation is made, it may not be possible to stop an investigation, even if both parties wish to have the charges dropped. In California, the prosecution can conduct an investigation and decide whether or not to press charges, even if the accuser recants or changes their story.
Attorneys Defending the Accused
If you or someone you know has been charged with domestic violence, it is imperative to secure an uncompromising legal defense from Blumenthal & Moore. The circumstances and nature of domestic abuse cases can mean that individuals can be facing charges based off of misremembered events, exaggerated claims, or false accusations.
Our Riverside attorneys have more than a century of combined legal experience and focus exclusively on criminal defense.
Call (951) 682-5110 to schedule a free consultation with our firm today.