Exposure to Domestic Violence Cases in California

In Giovanni F., the court affirmed a jurisdictional finding under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (a) based on a series of incidents of domestic violence on the part of the father. One such incident occurred when the father punched the mother in the face and choked her to the point of unconsciousness while the father was driving a car with the child in the backseat. Giovanni F. concluded jurisdiction under "section 300, subdivision (a) is appropriate when, through exposure to a parent's domestic violence, a child suffers, or is at substantial risk of suffering, serious physical harm inflicted nonaccidentally by the parent." (Id. at pp. 598-599.) "When domestic violence occurs in a moving vehicle, the potential for injury inherent in the violence is dramatically increased by the likelihood of a collision that could prove fatal." (Id. at p. 600.) Giovanni F. concluded the father's "violence in the car would have been sufficient, by itself, to support jurisdiction under section 300, subdivision (a)." (Id. at p. 601) In In re Jonathan B. (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 115, the mother picked up the children and the children's father from a party and agreed to give the father a ride to his home. While in the car, the father called the mother a "bitch" and pinched her on the neck. When the mother objected, the father stated "I don't care, they need to know what kind of mother they have," grabbed her sunglasses, and broke them. When they arrived at father's home, he got out of the car and threw the mother's belongings on the street. After the mother threatened to call the police, the father hit her in the face. (Id. at 117.) At the jurisdictional hearing, the father argued that the only other incident of domestic violence between the parties had been five years before. (Ibid.) Jonathan B. distinguished Giovanni F. on the basis that in Giovanni F., the father had been consistently violent for years, while the parties in the case before it had not had any domestic violence incidents in five years. (Id. at p. 120-121.)