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    Is Emotional Abuse Considered Domestic Violence in California?

    Posted on: April 5th, 2023 by Dod Law

    Is Emotional Abuse Considered Domestic Violence in California? Emotional Abuse Lawyer | Domestic violence - San Diego | Vista CaliforniaExperienced Emotional Abuse Lawyer in San Diego

    Learn more how an experienced emotional abuse lawyer can help fight for your rights.  In California, emotional abuse, also known as psychological abuse, is illegal and can be prosecuted as a criminal offense. Emotional abuse can be charged as domestic violence, which is legally defined as abuse committed by a current or former intimate partner, a family member, or a person with whom the victim shares a child in common. Domestic violence can also include physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological abuse.

    At Dod Law, APC, our experienced emotional abuse lawyers can help you understand the legal definition of emotional abuse and the consequences of being charged with domestic violence. In this article, we will explain the various types of emotional abuse, the penalties for being convicted, and how to defend against charges of domestic violence.

    Dod Law an Emotional Abuse Lawyer Explains The Differences Between Domestic Violence and Emotional Abuse

    While many forms of domestic violence center on physical aggression, emotional abuse is also a common form of domestic violence. It is important to note that a simple, heated argument between two people is not considered emotional abuse. In order for the behavior to constitute a criminal offense, it must either bring immediate concern of danger to the victim or be committed in a pattern, with the intent to control or intimidate the victim. This includes a variety of behaviors, such as:

    Causing Fear

    Intimidation of a family member, partner, or child through threats or physical violence. Examples include threats to harm the victim or their loved ones, destruction of property, or withholding basic necessities.

    Isolating the Victim

    Preventing the victim from having contact with family, friends, or other supportive individuals. Examples include not allowing the victim to use the telephone or computer, making threats of violence if the victim attempts to leave the home, or monitoring the victim’s activities.

    Verbal Abuse

    This may include humiliating or berating the victim through insults, name-calling, or other degrading language. This can also include threats of physical or verbal violence.


    Manipulating the victim into questioning their own reality by denying events or facts, making false accusations, or withholding information.


    Rejecting or minimizing the victim’s opinions, feelings, or needs in an effort to make them feel unworthy or invalid. This can also include withholding affection or support.

    Economic Abuse

    Controlling the victim’s finances by limiting access to money or making them dependent on the abuser. Examples include withholding money, preventing the victim from getting or keeping a job, or forcing the victim to account for their spending.

    What Happens When You Are Arrested for Domestic Violence in San Diego

    How to Defend Against a Charge of Emotional Abuse – Find an Experienced Emotional Abuse Lawyer

    If you have been charged with emotional abuse, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney with the Dod Law, APC legal team can help you understand the charges and build a defense strategy to protect your rights.

    The prosecution must prove that your words and actions were egregious enough to inflict a reasonable fear of harm in the victim. In some cases, this can be difficult to prove, as emotions can be subjective. If the prosecutor cannot prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the court may reduce the charges or dismiss the case altogether. 

    However, your defense strategy to cast the shadow of doubt will depend on the facts of your case, but some common strategies include:

    Protected Speech

    Your First Amendment right to freedom of speech may protect some verbal threats that do not constitute a true threat of violence. Certain types of speech, however, are not covered by this protection and can still result in criminal charges.


    You may be able to defend yourself if you can prove that your actions were taken in self-defense. To do this, you must show that you were in imminent danger of harm and that your actions were necessary to prevent this harm.

    Lack of Physical Evidence

    If the prosecution can establish a credible pattern of physical abuse, it is much more difficult to defend yourself. However, if no physical contact was made and no physical evidence establishing the pattern, it may be easier to challenge the charges.

    Lack of Intent

    Without the intent to cause fear or control the victim, the prosecutor may not be able to prove their case. To prove intent, they must show that your words or actions were done with the intention of frightening or controlling the victim.

    Lack of Attempt to Carry Out Threat

    In some cases, a callous remark becomes less threatening if the defendant does not attempt to carry out the threat. If the prosecutor cannot prove that you attempted to carry out the threat, they may not be able to prove their case.

    Contact Dod Law, an Emotional Abuse Lawyer Today For Help on Your Case

    If you have been accused of emotional abuse, it is important to seek legal help immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the charges, build a defense strategy, and protect your rights in court.

    At Dod Law, APC, we understand how overwhelming it can be to face criminal charges of emotional abuse. Our experienced domestic abuse defense attorneys have over 18 years of experience and will help you understand the consequences of these charges and how to best defend against them. We will walk you through every step of the process and fight to protect your rights. Contact us online or call us at our San Diego office (619) 814-5110 or Vista office 760-814-6025 today for a free consultation.

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    Meet Attorney Dod Ghassemkhani

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