San Diego County has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in California, based on calls to law enforcement. It also has a wealth of resources available to victims of domestic violence and people who fear they may become victims. California's family laws provide some resources and remedies in cases where domestic violence is a factor, including protective orders, but these are generally only available through the courts. Everyone should be aware of resources like hotlines, shelters, and law enforcement programs that may be able to help in an emergency.
"Domestic violence" is generally defined as force, or the threat of imminent force, against an adult member of a person's household. This could include a spouse or former spouse, a dating partner, the other parent of a person's child, or some other adult relative by blood or marriage. The gender of neither an alleged assailant nor an alleged victim is relevant to the legal definition of domestic violence.
A review of five years of data, ending with 2010, on calls made to law enforcement throughout California revealed that, out of the ten largest counties in the state, San Diego County had the second highest volume of domestic violence calls in four of the five years. Only Fresno County had a higher rate. A spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office suggested, in a report by the San Diego Union-Tribune, that programs supporting domestic violence victims might result in a higher volume of calls, encouraging reporting of incidents by people who might not otherwise feel safe to do so.
San Diego has recently had several high-profile domestic violence-related criminal matters. In October 2012, a 64 year-old handyman pleaded not guilty to charges that he murdered a 66 year-old woman when she reportedly tried to end their three-year dating relationship. Prosecutors allege that the man beat her to death after they got into an argument. If convicted, the man could face twenty-eight years to life in prison. In another case, a man received an eighty-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the murder of his estranged wife, who had recently filed for divorce, and her male co-worker. He allegedly went to her home in February 2011 with a gun and, seeing her inside with the co-worker, shot and killed both of them.
California’s Family Code allows courts to grant protective orders to prevent domestic violence. Courts may grant an ex parte order in an emergency, but the respondent must have notice and a hearing before a court may grant a full protective order. Protective orders may remain in effect for the duration of a divorce proceeding or for a defined period of time. Violations of protective orders could result in a contempt order or a criminal charge. Courts may take domestic violence issues into consideration when ruling on issues like child custody and property division.
While protective orders and other legal tools may help in domestic violence situations, they are still just pieces of paper that may not deter some assailants. We advise anyone concerned about domestic violence to consider the following resources:
- San Diego Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-888-DVLINKS (385-4657)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Additional phone numbers and other resources are available from the San Diego Domestic Violence Council.
Thomas Huguenor is a divorce and child custody lawyer certified by the State of California. For more than 35 years, he has represented people in San Diego finding their way through the California divorce process. Contact us today online or at (858) 458-9500 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Reunification with Children Denied for California Father Because of Abuse Allegations, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, September 27, 2012
Actress Will Not Face Charges for Alleged Domestic Violence, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, May 10, 2012
California Bill Would Prevent Convicted Abusers from Receiving Spousal Maintenance, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, March 22, 2012