Threats Against You are Domestic Violence
Domestic violence charges can be filed in criminal court for physical attacks – and for certain types of threats. You have the right to be free from abuse and harassment. Abuse includes physically harming a domestic partner (such as a spouse, former spouse, relationship partner, current or former dating partner, people living together, or closely related) when the threats put the person in fear of imminent harm. Other types of abuse include stalking, threatening to harm, verbal abuse, or destroying property.
Psychological Abuse and Domestic Violence
When one party in a domestic relationship is verbally or emotionally abusive, the other person may live in fear. They may be cut off from friends, family, and other types of support. If you live in fear of a partner who uses threats to control you, it is imperative to ensure you have the protection the law can provide. In California, when a person threatens another with serious harm, it is a crime, either a misdemeanor or felony, based on what occurred. Call the police if you are a victim of threats.
Felony Criminal Threats
Threats to a domestic partner are filed as a felony when:
- The threat explicitly stated the intention to harm or kill the domestic partner physically.
- The recipient of the threat was in a sustained state of fear, reasonable under the circumstances.
- The threat was issued verbally, in writing, or by text, email, or other electronic means of communication.
Examples of Online Harassment
When a couple part ways, it can be an emotionally upsetting time, but in some cases, a former relationship partner engages in online harassment to attempt to harm the other. The types of actions that are likely to be considered harassment include:
- Posting intimate photos of you online.
- Sending negative messages about you to your employer, friends, family, or others without provocation.
- Electronic surveillance techniques used to monitor your location and conversations as a form of control.
- Posting threats to harm by text, email, or on various social media platforms.
- Spreading damaging gossip to harm your reputation.
- Obscene or threatening posts, emails, texts, etc.
In 1990, California passed an anti-stalking law, 646.9, which states:
“Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison.”
If you are the victim of harassment, abuse, threats, and fear you will be harmed, you must ensure you are protected by a restraining order. Such orders can be issued on an emergency basis. Your attorney can present evidence of threats to the judge to obtain an emergency order of protection. This order will restrict the person from contacting you in person or by any means and restrict them from being within a certain distance of you or entering your home.
Domestic Violence: How Threats can Impact the Outcome of a Divorce
If you are planning to divorce and have been the victim of physical harm, threats, or abuse, documenting what has occurred and putting a restraining order in place are essential. These acts can have a significant impact on a divorce. The party who committed acts of domestic violence is far less likely to be granted custody of children of the relationship and subject to an arrest if they violate the order of protection.
For guidance on how to proceed to protect yourself if you are threatened, whether in person, over the phone, or online, call Mattis Law, APC, at (858) 328-4400 at once.