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California Law Regarding Civil Domestic Violence

How is Domestic Violence Treated in California?

Domestic violence is treated in the following ways in California:

  • As a crime via Penal Code section 273.5
  • As a family law offense via California Family Code section 6200 as well as the California Domestic Violence Prevention Act
  • As a civil tort via California Civil Code section 1708.6

Can an Individual Be Liable for the Tort of Domestic Violence?

Yes, as mentioned previously, an individual can be liable for the tort of domestic violence. Per Civil Code section 1708.6, an individual can be held liable for the tort of domestic violence if the plaintiff proves the following:

  • The plaintiff suffered injury as a result of the abuse;
  • The abuse was inflicted on the plaintiff by the plaintiff’s spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, a person with whom the plaintiff has had a child, or person with whom the plaintiff is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship.

How is Abuse Identified for Purposes of Civil Code section 1708.6?

The definition of abuse used under Civil Code section 1708.6 is actually defined under Penal Code section 13700. As per this Penal Code section, abuse means to intentionally or recklessly cause or attempt to cause bodily injury, or placing another individual in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to himself or herself, or another.

What Damages May the Defendant Be Liable for?

The defendant, who is the person causing abuse to the plaintiff, may be liable for both compensatory as well as punitive damages. Additionally, the defendant may also be held to pay the reasonable attorney’s fees.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages are money that is awarded to the plaintiff as a result of the loss plaintiff has suffered due to the negligent or unlawful conduct of another individual.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are money awarded to the plaintiff in addition to compensatory damages.  Punitive damages are awarded as a form of punishment to those who engage in bad behavior. Additionally, it serves as an example to discourage others as well as the defendant from acting similarly in the future.

What is the Statute of Limitation for Civil Domestic Violence?

The statute of limitation for civil domestic violence as per California Civil Code section 1708.6 is three years from the date of the last abusive act. Should the abuse be ongoing, the plaintiff may recover for all past acts of abuse by the same defendant.

Domestic Violence Attorney

If you or someone you know is facing a violation under Civil Code section 1708.6, contact our experienced attorneys at (31)943-1171 for a free consultation.


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