One State’s Penal Code Definition of Domestic Violence

In order for law enforcement to arrest a person for domestic violence in the State of California, certain conditions must be met, as outlined in the State’s Penal Code, copied below. (Other states have different definitions.)

Penal Code section 273.5 states:

Any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim…is guilty of a felony.

Additionally, it states that the victim must be one or more of the following:

(1) The offender’s spouse or former spouse.

(2) The offender’s cohabitant or former cohabitant.

(3) The offender’s fiancé or fiancée, or someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship.

(4) The mother or father of the offender’s child.

This section also defines “traumatic condition” as

 “a condition of the body, such as a wound, or external or internal injury, including, but not limited to, injury as a result of strangulation or suffocation, whether of a minor or serious nature, caused by a physical force.  For purposes of this section, “strangulation” and “suffocation” include impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a person by applying pressure on the throat or neck.”

Domestic violence agencies have a different definition of domestic violence,  based on the experiences of victims.