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Altafulla v. Ervin Summary


Altafulla v. Ervin summary

Factual Background


In Altafulla v. Ervin, Boyfriend was in a previous marriage to Wife.  Wife obtained a DVPA against Boyfriend and the two eventually divorced.  Boyfriend then started a romantic relationship with Girlfriend.  Boyfriend moved in with Girlfriend and her two daughters’ home.


Boyfriend discovered by surveillance Girlfriend was unfaithful.  Boyfriend maintained Wife initiated the surveillance and he merely made a copy of the report.  Boyfriend emailed Girlfriend’s employer and mutual friends the surveillance reports which purported to show her unfaithfulness.  Boyfriend also described sex acts to Girlfriend’s minor daughters and warned they faced infection from Girlfriends transmutable diseases.  One child was so distraught she needed she required mental health facility services.


Girlfriend obtained a temporary restraining order under the DVPA against Boyfriend.  He was to have no contact with Girlfriend of her daughters.  Husband then likewise filed for a restraining against Girlfriend under the DVPA.


Trial Court’s Decision


The trial court heard both parties’ motions.  The trial court weighed each witness’s credibility.  It found Girlfriend feared Boyfriend and issued a five-year order.  The court ordered Boyfriend to leave the home.  Boyfriends DVPA request was denied.


Decision on Appeal


Boyfriend’s first substantive argument on appeal was Girlfriend admitted she had a yeast infection and thus his statements to the children and others were literally true.  This Court was unmoved.  Factual accuracy was not determinative as to whether to issue a restraining order under the DVPA.  In reference to the prior decision in In re Marriage of Nadmarni, the Court determined the true intent of the DVPA was to prevent an abuser from further disruption of the abused’s peace.   The Court defined disturbed mental peace as “[t]o agitate and destroy . . .  to break up the quiet, tranquility or rest . . . to stir up, trouble, disquiet.”  Peace included “freedom from anxiety, disturbance . . . or inner conflict[.]”  Under the DVPA, when Boyfriend disseminated Girlfriend's personal information he disturbed Girlfriend's peace.  Whether the information was true was irrelevant


Boyfriend next complained Girlfriend obtained a five-year restraining order when she only requested one for three years.  Again, the Court was unmoved.  At trial Girlfriend testified she wanted a five-year order.  Under those circumstances the trial court was free to grant a five-year order.


Boyfriend finally asserted the DVPA was unconstitutional.  He argued the DVPA intruded on his first and second amendment rights.  The Court disagreed.  First, Girlfriend’s fear was well placed.  Second, the first amendment did not protect speech that that caused an abused to fear for themselves.  Third and with regard to Boyfriend's attempt to tie his case to handgun bans, Handgun bands were not absolute as Boyfriend argued and passed constitutional muster when those found to have perpetrated domestic violence were restrained.


The Court of Appeal affirmed and awarded Girlfriend costs.

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