Yes, Verbal Abuse Is A Crime In California

Yes, Verbal Abuse Is A Crime In California

by Jan 8, 2019

It’s very common for people to assume that domestic violence only includes actual physical harm to another person. But in California, domestic violence also includes verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse as well. Those charged with domestic violence may think that if there was no physical violence, their punishment will be less severe. This is not true.

Verbal Abuse & Domestic Violence Laws

In California, domestic violence legally occurs when there is abuse or threats of abuse against people who are:

  • Married or registered domestic partners
  • Divorced or separated
  • Dating or used to date
  • Living together or used to live together (but more than just roommates)
  • Closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, etc)

“Abuse” is legally defined as:

  • Physically hurting or trying to hurt someone intentionally or recklessly
  • Sexual assault
  • Making someone reasonably afraid that he, she, or someone else is about to be seriously hurt (like threats or promises to harm someone)
  • Behavior like harassing, stalking, threatening, or hitting someone, disturbing someone’s peace, or destroying someone’s personal property

Getting mad at a partner and saying mean or hurtful things (ie “You’re a jerk and I hope you fall off a cliff”) is not considered verbal abuse from a legal standpoint. But if there is a threat of harm that is perceived as sincere (“I am going to kill you if you don’t clean this up”) that absolutely qualifies as verbal abuse and the person who made the threat can be charged with domestic violence.

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Defending Against Verbal Abuse Charges

Proving verbal abuse can be much more difficult than proving physical violence. Unless there is recorded audio and/or video of an altercation in which the alleged abuse occurred, it often comes down to a he-said/she-said scenario.

If there is no documented proof of the verbal abuse, and the person being accused does not have a previous record of domestic violence, it will be difficult for the alleged victim to press charges.

If you have been charged with domestic violence stemming from verbal abuse, you should contact an attorney immediately. At Quinnan Law, we have extensive experience defending clients against false charges of verbal abuse and other forms of domestic violence. Please contact our offices for a free consultation.


At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

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