Domestic Violence and Coercive Control

Domestic Violence and Coercive Control

Use of surveillance, electronics, and other means of destroying your peace of mind can be deemed domestic violence under California's Domestic Violence Prevention Act.  Smart devices can be employed to turn off your refrigerator, turn up your heat, and take pictures of your house.  Your robotic vacuum can take pictures, iPhones track your location, and Ring can be used to know who is at your door. 

Under the Domestic Violence Protection Act ("DVPA") a court may issue a protective order "to prevent acts of domestic violence, abuse and to provide for a separation of the persons involved in the domestic violence for a period sufficient to enable these persons to seek a resolution of the causes of the violence" (Family Code § 6220). 

 The DVPA defines "abuse" as intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, sexual assault, placing a person in a reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury or to another, or engaging in any behavior that could be enjoined pursuant to section 6320 of the Family Code (Family Code § 6203 subd. (a).) Abuse includes a broad range of harmful behaviors enumerated under section 6320, including threats, stalking, annoying phone calls, vandalism, and most relevant here, "disturbing the peace of the other party." (Family Code § 6320, subd. (a).)

  "The plain meaning of phrase "disturbing the peace of the other party" is understood to be conduct that destroys the mental or emotional calm of the other party" (N.T. v. H.T., Supra, 34 Cal.App.5th 595, 602). This conduct includes, but is not limited to, coercive control, which is a pattern of behavior that in purpose or effect unreasonably interferes with a person's free will and personal liberty. (Family Code § 6320 subd. (c).

  Examples of Coercive control include, but are not limited to, unreasonably engaging in any of the following:

1.  Controlling, regulating, or monitoring the other party's movements, communications, daily behavior, finances, economic resources, or access to services (Family Code § 6320 subd. (c).

Annoying and harassing an individual is protected under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act in the same way as physical abuse. (In re Marriage of Brubaker & Strum, (2021) 73 Cal. App. 5th 525). 

Post filing abusive conduct is clearly relevant in domestic violence cases in which a temporary restraining order has been granted pending a hearing on a permanent restraining order. (In re Marriage of F.M & M.M., (2021) 279 Cal. App .5th 106).

In N.T v. H.T., the Court reasoned that "Even if husband's alleged acts did not violate temporary restraining order (TRO), his acts, including requesting intimate physical contact with wife, writing wife a letter and placing in daughter's diaper bag, and driving to wife's apartment complex, would have been acts of abuse justifying issuance of domestic violence restraining order (DVRO), since the acts were breaches of wife's peace. ((2019) 246 Cal. App. 5th 595).

Defending or filing for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order on your own can be overwhelming and complicated.  Vera Livingstone has been prosecuting and defending restraining orders for nearly 30 years.  If you are the restrained party or are seeking a domestic violence restraining order,  our firm has the knowledge and experience to represent you. Livingstone Law, APC has handed hundreds of Domestic Violence cases over the course of 27 years. Don't struggle alone. Call or email us today.

This blog is intended for information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.