Broad Definition of “Abuse” Upheld Again

Broad Definition of “Abuse” Upheld Again

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A recent case has again come down from the Appellate Courts upholding the broad definition of abuse. In Burquet v. Brumbaugh (2014), the parties were in a dating relationship until she announced the relationship was over and terminated their relationship. This is when ex-boyfriend started to get into trouble. He continued to contact her seeking to have her reconsider her position. She continued to request that he not contact her. Despite her request, he continued to contact her and attempt reconciliation. Not only did he ignore her requests, but his communications became more and more inappropriate and his temper would flare. Refusing to take no for an answer, he appeared at her house unannounced and uninvited. He continued to pledge his love for her. She had enough by this time and told him to leave or she would call the police. After about 10 minutes, he finally left. Thereafter, she went to court to obtain a restraining order. The trial court granted the restraining order based on Family Code, 6320(d), which allows a restraining order to be issued when evidence is presented that shows the restrained person disturbed the peace of the other party. The basics of the appeal is that disturb the peace is not really defined by the legislature and the court should follow the definition as set forth in a criminal case that says disturbing the peace is disrupting public order by acts of violence or threats of violence. The court went on to look at the broad definition of ‘abuse’ provided by the legislature and then the common understanding and definitions of disturb and peace, and concluded that the phrase disturbing the peace is properly understood as ‘conduct that destroys the emotional or mental calm of the other party’. The bottom line is, this case is another that shows how serious the legislature and courts are when considering domestic violence and that they err, if at all, on the side of a broad definition rather than the narrower view