It happens more often than you might think. You get into a heated discussion with your spouse, partner, or significant other. Tempers flare, voices are raised, tensions escalate. You’re now in a shouting match—perhaps loud enough to get the attention of the neighbors. Concerned, someone calls the police. Before you realize it, one of you is arrested and carried off on suspicion of domestic violence.
This type of scenario can be baffling, confusing, and frightening—for one or both of the people involved. Perhaps in your mind—and even in the mind of your partner—the two of you were just having a fight, a lover’s spat. Maybe no punches were even thrown. Was it, in fact, domestic violence? Is there enough evidence for the charges to stick? At what point does a basic family argument cross the line into domestic violence? Let’s unpack this question a little, looking at it first through the eyes of California law, and then from the standpoint of real life.
What the Law Says