On June 20, 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported on the stabbing death of a Rialto man during an argument with his estranged wife (he had violated a restraining order prohibiting him from contacting his wife; it was the wife’s male friend who stabbed the estranged husband to death). Unfortunately, such incidents are all too common in family law. For example, on January 4, 2012, a murder-suicide occurred in Hemet when a husband fatally shot his estranged wife and then himself in the midst of a child custody hearing. Then, on February 6, 2012, a man murdered his estranged wife and her divorce attorney in broad daylight at a Bass Lake restaurant during a break in their divorce proceeding. These horrific incidents demonstrate the need to be prepared for such conflicts and to act vigilantly – as the saying goes, Better Safe Than Sorry.
A restraining order issued under the Domestic Violence Protection Act (“DVPA”) may provide peace of mind to individuals who fear for their safety and the safety of household members. Family Code section 6220 states that the purpose of a restraining order is “to prevent the recurrence of acts of violence and sexual 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.” A DVPA restraining order only can be issued in cases where domestic violence has or will occur and the person asking for protection is or used to be married to the other party, is dating or used to date the other party, or is related by blood to the other party.
A common misconception is that the abuse alleged needs to be physical: this is not true. Domestic violence generally consists of physical abuse, verbal abuse, stalking, following, tracking movements (such as through the use of a GPS device), harassment (including incessant texts, calls and emails), intimidation, molestation, destruction of property, disturbing the peace and blocking one’s movement (sometimes referred to as “false imprisonment”). Family Code section 6203 defines abuse to include “plac[ing] a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or another” which means a threat to inflict physical damage to the other person (for example, “I’m going to kill you if you report this”; “You’ll wish you were never born if you tell anyone about this”; “If we weren’t in public I’d have you assassinated”). Unfortunately, I’ve heard each one of these statements from prior clients.
Salick Family Law Group maintains an aggressive stance towards protecting clients against domestic violence and adheres to a zero-tolerance policy. If protection under the DVPA is warranted, then it will be recommended. This firm has been, and continues to be vigilant in obtaining DVPA restraining orders against male and female opposing parties. If you feel that a DVPA restraining order may be necessary in your situation, contact Salick Family Law Group or another family law attorney to ensure that you receive the protection you’re legally entitled to.