Family Violence and Dating Violence Laws

by C. J. Crawford

“Family violence” means an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault; abuse of a child; or dating violence.

The assault offenses noted above are fairly straightforward and need no explanation. The term ‘abuse of a child’ under this section specifically refers to the following acts or omissions:

  • physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline…
  • sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of continuous sexual abuse of young child or children, indecency with a child, sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault
  • compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct

“Dating violence” means an act by an individual that is against another individual with whom that person has or has had a dating relationship. For purposes of this title, “dating relationship” means a relationship between individuals who currently have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of:

  • the length of the relationship
  • the nature of the relationship
  • the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship

    A casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization in a business or social context does not constitute a “dating relationship”.


“Family” includes individuals related by consanguinity (blood) or affinity (marriage), individuals who are former spouses of each other, individuals who are the parents of the same child, without regard to marriage, and a foster child and foster parent, without regard to whether those individuals reside together.


“Household” means a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other. “Member of a household” includes a person who previously lived in a household.


The primary duties of a peace officer who investigates a family violence allegation or who responds to a disturbance call that may involve family violence are to protect any potential victim of family violence, enforce the law of this state, enforce a protective order from another jurisdiction, and make lawful arrests of violators.

Sgt. C.J. Crawford, GPD, is a DFG Board Member, Past President and member of the Public Education Committee