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Legal Information: California

Restraining Orders

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April 2, 2020

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in California?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a domestic violence protective order.

Domestic violence is defined as when your current or former spouse, boyfriend / girlfriend, someone you have a child in common with, someone you live(d) with, or someone you are related to through blood or marriage1 does one of the following:

  • causes or attempts to cause you physical injury;
  • sexually assaults you;
  • makes you fear that you or another person is in danger of immediate, serious physical injury;
  • molests, attacks, batters (uses force), or strikes you;
  • stalks you;
  • threatens or harasses you - either in person or through phone calls, emails, or other methods;
  • destroys your personal property; or
  • disturbs your peace.2

Note: If the acts of the abuser do not fit in this definition or if you do not have the specific relationship with the abuser that is mentioned above, you may still be eligible for a Civil Harassment Order. If you are elderly or a dependent adult, you may qualify for a protective order if you are being physically abused, neglected, financially abused by anyone or deprived of needed care by your custodian (caretaker). See Restraining Orders to Prevent Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse for more information.

1 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6211
2 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6203; 6320(a)