What is civil harassment in California and how is it different than domestic violence? Civil harassment is a lot like domestic violence, but what sets it apart from domestic violence is the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.
With domestic violence, the victim and the perpetrator are related by marriage, adoption, blood, or they are in or have been in a dating relationship with each other. But with civil harassment, the victim and the perpetrator are not related and they have never been in a romantic relationship, though the perpetrator may have wished otherwise.
It is civil harassment as opposed to domestic violence if the victim and perpetrator:
- Are friends (they were never romantic)
- Are roommates
- Are neighbors
- Are co-workers
- Are perfect strangers
It is also considered civil harassment if the victim and perpetrator are distant relatives; for example, the abuser is an aunt or uncle, a cousin, or a niece or nephew. When the abuser is a distant relative like those mentioned above, it is NOT domestic violence, it is civil harassment under California law.
What Counts as Civil Harassment?
Generally, civil harassment refers to stalking, threats, physical violence, or threats of abuse by someone who is not a close relative, or by someone you have not dated. If your neighbor is threatening to “beat you up” if you don’t stop your dog from barking at night, or if a co-worker is threatening to hurt you because you don’t get along, or if you are being stalked by someone who is infatuated with you, you may be a victim of civil harassment and the court may be willing to issue a civil harassment restraining order for your protection.
Civil harassment includes:
- Sexual assault
- Assault & battery
- A real threat of violence against the victim
- Violence or threats of violence that seriously scares the victim
A civil harassment restraining order can order the restrained person not to contact the victim. It can order them not to go near the victim, their family, or anyone who lives in their household. It can order them to stay away from the victim’s work and school, and their children’s school, and it can order them not to possess or control any firearms.
A civil harassment restraining order can impact gun rights and immigration. If the restrained person violates the restraining order, they can be arrested, jailed, fined, and prosecuted, or all the above.
Are you named in a restraining order, or are you facing criminal charges in Oakland? To explore your legal options, contact us for a free consultation.