The Costs of Domestic Violence
When facing domestic violence charges, you have a lot at stake. Your dignity, pride, and freedom may be on the line. What you may not realize is your bank account may be jeopardized as well. A domestic violence conviction can result in fines, fees, and other required payments that must be paid as part of your sentencing or as a condition of your probation.
While jail time won't be given in every case, domestic violence fees and fines will be. Under California Penal Code 1203.097, domestic violence offenders face a wide variety of probation conditions. To start, the offender will be ordered to pay a minimum fee of $500. This fee goes towards funding domestic violence programs with the county treasurer, the Controller, and local law enforcement agencies. The amount may be reduced or waived entirely if you cannot pay, but this is only granted at the court's discretion. Since this is a fee and not a fine, you cannot serve jail time in lieu of payment.
There are other fines and costs you may have to pay. The court may order you to make payments to a battered women's shelter in lieu of a fine. The payments will be a maximum of $5,000. You may also be ordered to reimburse the victim for his or her direct losses as part of your probation. This is called restitution. Restitution could cover such costs as the damage to property you caused, the costs of counseling, therapy, or medical care the victim needed after the incident, or the costs of displacement if the victim had to leave his or her home. And, if the victim is your spouse, your community property may not be used to cover these costs unless all your separate property is exhausted. The payment of restitution will take precedence over the payments to the battered women's shelter. So, you will not be ordered to make payments to a shelter if it would affect your ability to pay victim restitution. You will also not be ordered to make payments to a shelter if it would affect your ability to pay court-ordered child support.
In addition to fines and fees, you will be ordered to enroll in and complete a 52-week batterers' intervention program. This program will come at a cost to you. Typically, there will be a sliding-scale fee schedule for lower income individuals. If you cannot pay for the costs of the program up front, you may be able to defer payments and pay a nominal upfront fee. You will have to request a court hearing if you cannot pay this fee. If the court finds you indigent, some or all of your fees may be waived. If the court finds you do have the ability to pay, the payment of the program cost will be made a requirement of your probation, and you must pay during your probation period. There may be fees associated with your probation as well. You must pay all the required costs of your programs to be released from your probation.
The good news is your ability to pay the fines, payments to a battered women's shelter, and victim restitution will be taken into consideration. Your earning capacity may be a considering factor. If you cannot pay some of these costs, you may be relieved of that condition of your sentencing or probation. You hold the burden of proving your inability to pay though.
Speak with an experienced California domestic violence defense attorney right away if you are facing domestic violence charges. Even if you aren't given any jail time, you can expect to pay out of pocket in many ways for your offense. These costs are enough to make speaking with an attorney worth it. An attorney can evaluate the charges against you and advise you of the costs you may face. He or she can also help you prepare for your defense in court.
Are you in the Visalia or Tulare area and facing charges for a domestic violence offense? At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we are experienced in domestic violence defense and can help you face your charges. Criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens has successfully represented clients in Fresno, Tulare, and Kings Counties for over ten years and will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss your case.