Every couple argues. The events of the past year have left many couples contending with job loss, health concerns and isolation from family and friends during lockdown. This, in turn, has put additional strain on interpersonal relationships. Perhaps your marital spats have escalated in frequency or severity during this time.
But where exactly is the line between a normal relationship feud and a clash that constitutes domestic violence? This can be a hard distinction for the average person to make.
Things can escalate quickly
During a heated dispute, you may lose your temper and punch a pillow or throw your cell phone across the room. Is such behavior illegal?
If your partner or a concerned neighbor calls the police over your behavior, you may end up being arrested – even if your exchange was strictly verbal. Even if you never face charges and are quickly released from jail, your arrest will still show up on your permanent record – and this can have an impact on your future.
California law defines domestic violence as abuse – or threats of abuse – against an intimate partner. Such abuse may be emotional, physical or psychological. Therefore, a strictly verbal altercation could constitute domestic violence, which is against the law. However, interpersonal squabbles are also a normal part of any relationship, and certainly not all heated disagreements between partners are illegal.
What it really comes down to is evidence. For example, if a neighbor overhears an intense argument and calls the police out of concern, they may not have all of the necessary evidence to determine what was really going on behind closed doors. If the police arrive and no one engaged in the argument makes any claim of abuse, then there will likely be no arrest. It can also happen that one partner is arrested, but ultimately no charges are ever brought. In such cases, sealing your arrest record can help to protect your future.
Evidence is key in making or breaking a domestic violence case, and this evidence can take many forms based on the situation. If you are facing domestic violence charges, an experienced attorney can collect available evidence to help you build a robust defense.