The Basics of Batterers' Programs
Domestic violence in California is never taken lightly. There are many consequences of a domestic violence charge, which can include jail time, probation, and hefty fines. The terms and conditions of probation given for a domestic violence offense in California are extensive under Penal Code 1203.097. Probation will last a minimum of 36 months. A criminal protective order will be issued, which will include its own set of terms and conditions that must be adhered to. Community service may be ordered, and you must provide proof of completion of the service to the court. In certain cases, the court may order the defendant to enroll in a drug and alcohol treatment program or attend anger management classes. Defendants will be ordered to pay a minimum fee of $500, and additional fines and/or payments may be required. Perhaps the most time intensive component of domestic violence probation in California is being ordered to enroll in and successfully complete a Batterers' Intervention Program, or BIP.
These 52-week BIP programs are intensive and require you to meet once a week for two hours. The program must be completed within 18 months of the order, and you must enroll in one of these programs within 30 days of your conviction. Consistent attendance is crucial. You will only be allowed up to three absences during the program and only for good cause. The defendant is responsible for the program fees, but these may be adjusted based on his or her ability to pay. You will not be denied entry into the program based on your inability to pay alone.
Despite the name, you do not need to be convicted of domestic or spousal battery to be ordered to enroll in one of these programs. Any domestic violence offense will result in domestic violence probation, which will require you enroll in a BIP program. Domestic violence is abuse or violence directed at someone you are in or were in an intimate relationship with. This goes beyond just husband and wife. A domestic violence victim can be a past or present spouse, domestic partner, or cohabitant, someone you are or were dating or engaged to, or someone you have a child with. Abuse can be physical, such as punching or hitting, including acts of sexual assault. It can also be emotional or psychological, such as yelling, calling names, belittling, or making one fear for their safety. Even indirect contact such as stalking, harassing, or making threats is considered domestic violence.
Because domestic violence goes beyond just domestic battery, the BIP programs focus on a broad range of attitudes and behaviors that fit the California definition of domestic violence. The programs address the root causes of abuse, the effects abuse has on the victim, and the cognitive and behavioral changes that can prevent repeat offenses. They combine education with counseling to target both the attitude behind and the cause of domestic violence. Research has shown that these programs are effective in reducing the risk offenders will repeat their offense, but recidivism rates vary based on the county where the program is based, and the age, ethnicity, prior criminal history, and other individual characteristics of the offender.
Domestic violence convictions are very serious because of the long-term consequences. While your jail sentence may be minimal, you will face a year of domestic violence classes in a Batterers' Intervention Program. This is reason enough to fight a domestic violence charge. Speak with an experienced California domestic violence defense attorney if you are facing domestic violence charges. It is important you fully understand the potential consequences of such a conviction before you make any moves in your case. An attorney can review the facts and circumstances of your case and advise you on a plan of action you can use to fight your charges.
Are you facing charges for domestic violence? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his team for legal help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in domestic violence defense, Mr. Martens will work hard to ensure you have a strong defense against your charges. With over ten years experience in criminal defense, Attorney Martens has taken over 50 cases to trial and will not be afraid to do the same for you. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.