California’s Family Code has long provided that a court may issue a domestic violence restraining order for disturbing the peace of the complaining party. Now, in a new case, the California Court of Appeal has added clarity to what “disturbing the peace” actually means.
Accepting the reasoning of another appellate decision, this one from 2009, the court this week in Burquet vs. Brumbaugh said that disturbing the peace may include “a former husband’s alleged conduct in destroying the mental or emotional calm of his former wife”. The definition of “disturbing the peace” is important because “disturbing the peace” is one of the things that constitute “abuse”. And there must be “abuse” for a California family court to issue a restraining order.
In the Burquet case, the defendant “unannounced and uninvited, and despite plaintiff’s requests that he not contact her, appeared outside [her] residence”. The woman opened the door but did not let the man in. She told him to leave, but he started rambling at her in a loud voice. She threatened to call the police, and he basically called her bluff before leaving.
At the hearing, the woman said she was scared because on two previous occasions he had become physical with her. Accordingly, the trial judge issued a restraining order for two years.
There was actually more to the story. The parties’ relationship had ended in April of 2012. At that point, “plaintiff terminated the relationship and defendant could not accept it”. He kept contacting her between June and October, 2012, before the final incident in February, 2013 (described above) that resulted in the restraining order.
The defendant appealed the granting of the restraining order, arguing that no evidence had been presented to the trial court of a past act or acts of “abuse”. The Court of Appeal unanimously disagreed.
In California, domestic violence restraining orders are issued in divorce cases or even in cases where the parties were never married but are related to each other or have had a dating relationship. This type of restraining order may last for up to five years. If the police catch someone violating a restraining order, an arrest will usually occur and criminal charges will be filed.